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Volume 24 No. 155
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          With 260 all sports-talk radio stations in the U.S.,
     there are "something like a thousand" hosts, but "none of
     them remotely as good or remotely as powerful" as "Mike and
     the Mad Dog," WFAN's Mike Francesa and Chris Russo,
     according to GQ's Peter Richmond.  Through January 1, 1998,
     the duo had topped the drive-time ratings for eight of the
     last ten quarterly rating periods in the NYC area, making
     their afternoon show the "jewel of the nation's most
     successful radio station," and "one of the most listened-to"
     local shows in the country.  Richmond calls radio "sports'
     truest voice, the humblest and most democratic medium for
     the culture's least pretentious enterprise," and adds that
     the "phenomenal growth" of sports radio "reflects the growth
     of the sports world."  Francesa: "The business of sports
     continues to explode.  It stretches and stretches, and there
     seems to be enough material to keep stretching it." 
          FRIENDS TILL THE END? Richmond describes Russo as "no
     more enlightened than the guy next to you in the Midas
     customer waiting room," and who gives most issues "a good
     eleven seconds of thought before spouting an opinion." 
     Francesa, meanwhile, "knows what he's talking about ... but
     often comes off as being overly satisfied with himself." 
     Richmond: "[T]here's no particular magic in their
     relationship.  They're not great friends.  There are times
     when they don't even like each other."  Still, their success
     is unquestioned, and they have "been approached a dozen
     times about doing a national show."  Most recently, they
     "declined a national talk show on Fox" (GQ, 3/98 issue).