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Volume 24 No. 155
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Francesa Fans, Russo Skeptical Of New WFAN Hosts; Was Completely Different Show Needed?

It is evident that the new afternoon lineup replacing Mike Francesa on WFAN has "some work to do in winning over diehard Francesa fans" based on the reaction last night from fans celebrating the Francesa's career, according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. The station yesterday formally announced Chris Carlin, Bart Scott and Maggie Gray will fill the afternoon slot beginning in January, and Francesa said to fans last night at LIU-Post's campus, “Give the next show a chance." The effort "prompted widespread booing." Francesa added that the "first text he got" yesterday was from former co-host Chris Russo, who "criticized" both the new show and Scott on Tuesday on his SiriusXM show. Russo, who eventually joined Francesa on stage, brought up Scott’s name and "many in the audience booed loudly." Francesa said, "They’re taking over rarified piece of air. I think it’s the No. 1 sports media platform in this city. ... But I really don't see myself rooting against them. I'll be interested in it because I'm just interested in the business, and we'll see how it unfolds" (NEWSDAY, 11/16). Meanwhile, SNY's Jon Hein said he was happy for Carlin, Scott and Gray. He said, "Maggie is the best, (Chris) brought me here. Nothing but good things. Good luck to all you guys.” SNY’s Willie Colon said, “Bart will talk your head off. I know that's hard because it’s talk radio, but he can literally talk someone's head off. He doesn't stop. He’s entertainment, but I am happy for Bart. Chris, I have to say really thank you to him because when I started this, he was really sweet to me and encouraging, so I’m happy for Chris Carlin” (“Loud Mouths,” SNY, 11/15).

NEEDED TO GO DIFFERENT DIRECTION: SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote from a business standpoint, one can "understand what WFAN is doing and it makes sense." Unless WFAN "pulled off a miracle" and brought back Russo, Francesa listeners were "not going to be happy with ANY hire the station made." The station is "trying to replace a guy who was on afternoon drive for 30 years" and became a "radio legend, cult figure and Internet star." It would be "foolish to just plug in someone similar -- although there is no one similar to Francesa -- or someone who would try to do the same show." It would also be a "monumental mistake" to try and replicate the days of the "Mike & the Mad Dog" show. Going in a completely different direction -- a "diverse team, younger team" -- was the "smart way for WFAN to go." Many listeners will "bail on the station simply because" Francesa is gone. That is "just a fact" and WFAN management "knows that." The station "needs to attract people who didn’t listen to Mike’s show." Traina: "How do you do that? Appeal to a different audience" (SI.com, 11/15).