Mike Francesa offers little, drones on a lot in first show back
Mike Francesa said Alex Rodriguez asked to be his first guest on Francesa’s return to WFAN. Francesa said he is getting into the app business, because he really thinks it is going to be the future. Francesa lamented that Tuesday would have been a really good day to play golf.
What Francesa didn’t do on his first show back was really explain why he had an 18-month “retirement tour” only to return 4 ¹/₂ months later, telling his audience, it was mostly “none of their business.”
Francesa only said a couple of things of note. He reported he is on a 2 ¹/₂-year contract and, tellingly, spoke of only one specific offer from Brent Musburger and his family’s Vegas Stats & Information Network, but added nothing else of substance.
Francesa needed WFAN and claimed an unnamed radio station had interest. Francesa didn’t say which station, but sources said Francesa used a real or imagined job at WOR as leverage to get his old gig back. Mostly, Francesa acted as if he had never left.
He is the overwhelming favorite to win the spring ratings book over ESPN’s “The Michael Kay Show,” even though his program is not particularly good anymore. It hasn’t been for a while. Francesa is dismissive of his audience and drones on, but a lot of people don’t seem to mind.
For his diehards, Francesa’s thick Long Island accent Tuesday was the return of the soundtrack of their childhoods or just a familiar voice that has aged with them. They were clearly happy to have him back, no matter the circumstances.
Francesa didn’t address what he and Entercom president, David Field, did to Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, whose spot he took. While CMB, in their new 1-3 p.m. time slot, mostly avoided Francesa’s name during their show, Carlin did say Francesa and his teammates were on the “same page” after a pre-show meeting. Francesa, who took a pay cut to return, basically waved off the one caller who told him, he “overplayed his hand.”
Part of Francesa’s appeal, even at 64, is how ridiculous he is, which is funny — intentionally or not. Francesa claimed A-Rod asked to be the first guest on this return show and Francesa responded, “Why not?”
It is hard to believe Rodriguez ever said anything like, “Jennifer [Lopez,] did you hear about ‘Mike’s On’? I’ve got to be the first guest. Hopefully, Mike will let me be the first guest. I’m going to text him.”
When he did appear, Rodriguez did say New York sports needed Francesa back. It was a shot — intentional or not — at A-Rod’s ESPN teammate, Kay, who had ripped Rodriguez on Monday. Rodriguez didn’t say he asked to be Francesa’s first guest, but that when Francesa “retired,” he said he would appear on the host’s next venture.
A theme of the show was how Francesa has noticed apps are where everything is going regarding video and audio.
“Apps are the future,” Francesa said.
Francesa, who had sworn off social media, has new Twitter, Instagram and Facebook handles, but he won’t be present on them. They are just designed to promote his yet to be revealed app and his radio show. Francesa said the app is due in August.
“There are going to be things that haven’t been done before,” he said.
For that to be true, someone will have to work, and there continued to be a laziness to Francesa’s show. When he had Eli Manning on, he failed to ask even one question specifically about Saquon Barkley. Also, wouldn’t it have been nice to know what Manning thought leading up to the draft and on the big night? It wasn’t asked.
Manning snapped off the best line of the show, kidding Francesa, “That was the shortest retirement I’ve ever seen.”
What Francesa really misses is Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. Russo took off for SiriusXM a little less than a decade ago, because he couldn’t stand working with his partner of almost 20 years any longer. The two have had reunions and, when they do, Russo’s energy brings out a more lively Francesa. That is the shame of Francesa’s post-retirement retreat. He should be doing something with Russo, even if it were part-time. That’s where he really belongs.
By himself, Francesa just drones on, living on reputation, more than anything else. But, he is right, it is a different world. It is hard for a talk show host to stick out, because everyone with these new up-and-coming apps has a voice.
Francesa is still a big deal, because of his history, but listening to all 3 ¹/₂ hours of his show felt more like work than joy. And it seemed he owed his loyal listeners a little more.
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