Francesa at Super Bowl LIII Radio Row, 2019
Michael Patrick Francesa
March 20, 1954
|Station(s)||WFAN (New York City)|
|Time slot||5:00-6:30 p.m., every day on RADIO.COM|
6:00-6:30 p.m, Monday-Friday on WFAN
9:00 a.m-1:00 p.m Sundays (temporarily during Coronavirus re-scheduling)
Michael Patrick Francesa (born March 20, 1954) is an American sports radio talk show host. Together with Chris Russo, he launched Mike and the Mad Dog in 1989 on WFAN in New York City, which ran until 2008 and is one of the most successful sports-talk radio programs in American history.
On December 15, 2017, Francesa retired from his own show, Mike's On: Francesa on the FAN, which had been airing in the afternoon drive slot formerly occupied by Mike and the Mad Dog. He was succeeded by Chris Carlin, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott in the same time slot for the first ratings book of 2018.
On April 27, 2018, WFAN announced that Francesa would return to the station for a -hour afternoon show, a shorter shift than his original slot. Francesa hosted this shortened afternoon drive WFAN slot in a tumultuous tenure through the end of 2019 before he retired for a second time, moving to a half-hour evening slot on WFAN while also producing content for the Entercom-owned Radio.com platform, which began in January 2020. On March 24, 2020, Francesa was tapped to return to the station for a daytime slot on Sundays, and on May 26, 2020, he began returning to WFAN on weekdays for an hour each day. On July 24, 2020, Francesa retired for the third time citing the desire for more time with his family.
Francesa started his career by spending six years at College and Pro Football Newsweekly. He was hired by CBS Sports in 1982 as a researcher, focusing primarily on college sports. At CBS Sports, he was initially a behind-the-scenes, statistic-wielding editorial assistant, but network executives were so impressed by his knowledge that he was made a studio analyst for college basketball and football and acquired such a reputation that The New Yorker termed him "Brent Musburger's brain."
When WFAN was launched in 1987, Francesa applied for a host job. However, station management was looking for top-shelf types rather than someone with no experience, and he was only offered a producer's job, which he ended up rejecting. With his then-wife Kate's encouragement, Francesa continued to pursue WFAN. Finally, WFAN gave him a job as a weekend host talking college football and basketball in August 1987. Because of the positive reviews, Francesa began to guest-host other shows.
Because of his initial success as a weekend and fill-in host, he was teamed with local New York City host Ed Coleman, and the duo had a popular show on the 10 a.m.-2 p.m. slot. In 1989, WFAN was looking for hosts to replace the controversial Pete Franklin in the afternoon drive time period between 3 and 7 p.m. Station management decided to team the knowledgeable, but somewhat dry Francesa with the young and vibrant Chris Russo. While Francesa's brand of sports commentating was considered hard-hitting and serious, Russo's was lighter, unconventional, and more entertaining. The show was dubbed Mike and the Mad Dog. The show quickly gained popularity and was a staple of the New York sports scene from 1989 to 2008. The duo won the 2000 Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year. They were the first sports-talk hosts ever to win the award.
Francesa also hosted a weekly radio show called The NFL Now, which originated from WFAN and aired from 1987 to 2016. It eventually became syndicated and at one time was simulcast on MSNBC and later via video Webcast on NBCSports.com. The NFL Now became a syndicated program again when WBZ-FM in Boston started airing the show, a few weeks after the station's launch.
Francesa also provided the nightly "Sportstime" commentary on the CBS Radio Network and Westwood One. Francesa regularly contributed to the Imus in the Morning program with his views on sports while it aired on WFAN and Westwood One.
On August 14, 2008, it was announced that Russo had decided to leave WFAN, and thus ended the Mike and the Mad Dog show two weeks shy of its 19th anniversary scenario. This ended two months of speculation of whether the show was going to make it to a 20th season. At the same time, Francesa signed a five-year deal to stay at WFAN. September 8, 2008 officially marked the kickoff of Francesa's new solo WFAN program, which he announced on air would be called Mike'd Up, the same name as his former weekly television program on WNBC. Francesa on the FAN was seen on the YES Network from 2008 until 2014.
On January 17, 2012, the show was renamed Mike's On. After Francesa left the show Mike'd Up: The Francesa Sports Final on WNBC, the television station retained the rights to the name of the show. NBC and CBS did not reach an agreement for the rights and WFAN changed the name.
During his show's time on the YES Network, Francesa's trademark intro to a show hosted by himself was "From the studios of WFAN in New York and simulcast across the country on the YES Network, this is Mike's On: Francesa on the FAN."
On September 10, 2012, Francesa fell asleep live on air during a segment with Yankees beat reporter Sweeny Murti. He later denied he had fallen asleep after national ridicule and mockery including fans calling into the show.
On March 24, 2014, Francesa's show began broadcasting nationally on Fox Sports 1. He changed his trademark intro to the show to "From the studios of WFAN in New York and simulcast across the country on Fox Sports 1, this is Mike's On: Francesa on the FAN". The relationship with Fox Sports was tumultuous at times so, Francesa and Fox Sports did not renew the contract to continue simulcasting his radio show effective September 11, 2015. Francesa took primary responsibility for the relationship not succeeding. During his entire solo run, Francesa hosted the top-rated drive time sports talk show in the New York market.
On December 24, 2016, Francesa said goodbye on his last Mike Francesa Football Sunday after CBS didn't renew it for 2017.
On January 19, 2016, Francesa stated that he planned to leave WFAN when his contract with the station expired at the end of 2017. On May 3, 2017, WFAN announced WFAN Presents: Mike Francesa, A Night to Remember, to be held at the LIU Post Tilles Center on November 15 at 7:30 p.m.WFAN held Francesa's Next-To-Last WFAN/New York Show Live From The Paley Center for Media. Mike's final day on the air on WFAN was December 15, 2017. Mike signed off at 6:26pm EST on December 15, 2017 with these final words:
"I want to thank you guys, the listeners, the audience. Because without you - we don't last a week. We don't last a month. So, what I'd like to say to you is, 'I will miss you. I thank you. And, from the bottom of my heart, I love you. Good bye.'"
On April 24, 2018, just over 4 months after having retired from WFAN, Francesa announced his intention to return there. The station confirmed the decision stating that he would return to afternoon drive, albeit with a shorter show running from 3-6:30pm Monday through Friday.
On August 23, 2018, Francesa launched a subscription-based mobile app known as Mike's On, which provides a live video stream of Francesa's daily show on WFAN, archived interviews from previous shows, exclusively hosts Francesa's Sunday NFL show and Saturday college football show during their respective seasons, and occasional live reactions to sporting events. The $8.99 per-month price tag of the service was widely criticized by the media.
After returning to WFAN, Francesa won the fall 2018 ratings book, the first since his return, with an average of 6.4 percent of the listening audience over The Michael Kay Show's 5.8, the show opposite his time slot on the New York ESPN affiliate WEPN-FM. The total included both the over-the-air radio listening audience and WFAN's online streaming audience, which has traditionally been included in the total audience rating because WFAN has different advertising on each format. Without the stream, Francesa would have still won the fall 2018 book during the time slot by a share of 5.9-5.8 over Kay's show.
In the winter 2019 ratings book, Francesa received a 6.2 percent share of the listening audience compared to the 5.9 received by The Michael Kay Show during the same time slot. The total included both the over-the-air share as well as the WFAN online streaming. However, Kay beat Francesa 5.9-5.5 in the radio segment, and both hosts claimed victory on their respective shows. After hearing that Kay was celebrating victory over the disputed ratings book, Francesa said on his April 15, 2019 show that "I have nothing but sadness and pity for you that you would actually claim a victory that wasn't real" as well as saying that "you're ESPN, and you get beat like a rented mule for 20 years, it's got to hurt". Francesa later tweeted that "there was only one possible way to read [the ratings]" and that "anyone, and that means anyone, who says differently is either a fool or a liar."  Francesa also felt the stress of a close ratings battle for the first time in his NYC sports radio career, and got in a heated argument with WFAN management about the availability of a Craig Carton post-sentencing interview on the last few days of the book, after Carton was interviewed by Kay.
On April 28, 2019, Francesa became the center of controversy yet again, appearing to shame both the New York Giants and their 2019 6th-round draft pick Corey Ballentine after Ballentine was wounded in a drive-by shooting the day before. Francesa said that the incident contrasted with the "great character" of the draft class the Giants claimed to have picked, despite evidence that the shooting was completely randomized. After some media members picked up on the comments, such as Francesa's fellow WFAN hosts Boomer and Gio, Francesa did walk back the opinion on his next day's show, but not before tearing into his FAN counterparts in a fiery rant on their morning show the same day, accusing them of purposely distributing misinformation about him and his comments.
On September 3, 2019, it was announced that WFAN's owner Entercom had acquired the intellectual property of the Mike's On app, and that its content would be integrated into the company's Radio.com platform instead, with no additional subscription required. The Mike's On app was discontinued by the end of September, with its content having been made available for free in the meantime. Francesa never revealed the number of paying customers to his app, which was roundly criticized by the media throughout its existence.
While delivering his "5 Minute Morning" recording on November 4th, 2019, Francesa appeared to deliver flatulence on the air, which was picked up and turned into a mainstream news story on several online publications, including the New York Daily News. Francesa later denied the incident occurred, saying on his afternoon show the same day that it was "fake news" and that the media was desperate for a headline.
In the fall 2019 ratings book, Francesa's third full book since his return, his WFAN show lost to his ESPN rival The Michael Kay Show in direct head-to-head ratings, dethroning Francesa from the top of the New York sports ratings for the first time in his career, spanning back to 1989. In the book, Francesa was outrated by Kay 7.4-5.5, with Francesa's total share rising to 6.0 after including streaming. In response to his first-ever ratings book loss, Francesa criticized Kay and his co-hosts, claiming that "celebrating [their] success now would be the same as spiking the football after finally scoring a TD in a game that is 77-0!"
During his radio comeback, Francesa's show was the target of criticism for reasons ranging from his frequent inaccurate predictions to his treatment of callers. His show was described as "grumbles and contentious conversations with callers on a regular basis" by Deadspin, and Francesa was particularly noted for responding negatively to a caller who told him that Stan Lee died. Video clips of Francesa making inaccurate predictions often went viral on Twitter, with players like Virginia basketball's Ty Jerome coming onto the show to specifically address them. Francesa also received attention for maintaining that Tiger Woods had "nil" chance after the second round to win the 2019 Masters Tournament, which Woods later won, and then later claiming that the video clips in question that showed the inaccurate predictions were doctored or altered.
In a November 2019 interview, Francesa's former Mike and the Mad Dog co-host Chris Russo called the bombastic radio comeback "unhealthy". Russo revealed that he and Francesa had not spoken since March 2018 and in a direct criticism of his un-retirement, said "Mike should never have come back. He should have stayed retired.", while conjecturing he may have realized towards the end of his second afternoon drive run that it was a mistake.
On November 5th, 2019, Francesa announced his retirement from WFAN for a second time, announcing he would leave the station that December. On December 6th, 2019, he hosted his final afternoon show, giving thanks to both the station and the listeners.
Francesa's departure left WFAN looking for a replacement to their afternoon drive slot, which they eventually filled with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, who formerly hosted the midday show on the same network.
After Francesa left afternoon drive, WFAN announced he would not be leaving the station altogether and would instead host a shortened show in a later timeslot. On December 16th, 2019, Francesa revealed he would host a 30-minute show on WFAN from 6:00-6:30, with an additional hour on Radio.com. Francesa announced that the show would be mostly freeform, saying that "I can do whatever I want. I don't have to sports. I can do politics. I can do whatever I want" in terms of content.
On January 6th, 2020, Francesa debuted the first show on his new format, hosting a half-hour show on WFAN nights during the week while also hosting on Entercom's Radio.com platform. Francesa announced plans to branch out to more than New York sports, talking about national sports as well as political discussions. On the first day of his new show, Francesa announced that his political coverage would be "played down the middle", claiming to provide an unbiased centrist perspective.
On March 24th, 2020, Francesa returned to daytime sports radio at WFAN for the first time after his second retirement, taking a temporary weekends gig from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sundays. Downsizing at the station due to Coronavirus concerns played a part in WFAN's hiring of the longtime host, who had retired for a second time in December 2019. In May 2020, WFAN announced a revamp to their afternoon plans, slotting in Francesa in his first weekday show on the network since his second retirement, giving him a 6:00-7:00 PM time window.
During Francesa's May 21st, 2020 show, he ridiculed and laughed at reports of an unnamed NFL player who claimed he was sexually assaulted during a United Airlines flight, disputing the inability or willingness of the player to prevent the assault. On July 24, 2020, Francesa retired from broadcasting his daily WFAN and Radio.com show for the third time citing the desire to spend more time with his family.
Francesa was born and raised in Long Beach, New York. He is the second son of Michael Anthony Francesa, who abandoned the family when Francesa was eight years old. He has an older brother, John and a younger brother, Marty, who committed suicide on November 27, 1990. He attended Maria Regina High School in Uniondale (now known as Kellenberg Memorial High School), and graduated from St. John's University in 1977 (transferring there after one year at the University of South Florida), majoring in communications and athletic administration. He first married Kate in 1983 but divorced in 1994.
Currently a resident of Manhasset, New York, Francesa married his current wife, Rose (whom he usually refers to as Roe), on July 14, 2000, and they have three children, fraternal twins Emily Grace and Jack Patrick (15) and Harrison James (14). In November 2019, Francesa bought a home in South Florida, reportedly due to his desire to pay less in tax money.
In April 2007, Francesa criticized Democratic presidential nominees Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton after they called for the resignation of Don Imus, following comments Imus made about the Rutgers women's basketball team.
In 2016, Francesa came out as a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, supporting him as early as May 2016 and voting for him in the 2016 presidential election. He has previously expressed support for Trump's national anthem perspectives, tweeting that the "NFL has lost its way" by allowing players to kneel for the playing of the national anthem. Francesa also brushed off reports that President Trump's finances were in trouble, pointing out that he was still able to win the 2016 election.
Despite voting for Trump, Francesa claimed in January 2020 that he would be providing an "unbiased" moderate political perspective on his Radio.com show.
During the first week of June 2006, Francesa missed a few days on the radio for what was termed as "personal reasons." Soon after returning on the June 8, 2006, show he revealed that following medical tests, he needed to change his diet due to his weight struggles. He also admitted to going to the hospital to get an angioplasty done. Francesa had emergency knee surgery on August 31, 2006, to repair his shattered kneecap when he played golf the day before in Westhampton Beach, New York.
In 2012, Mike Francesa was ranked No. 1 of the 100 most important sports talk radio hosts in America by Talkers Magazine. Francesa credited colleagues at WFAN for his success, with a special salute to Russo. He remained the No. 1 sports talk radio host by Talkers in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, Francesa won the 2012 Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year