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Mike Francesa Is Embracing And Enjoying Podcasting

“I do them whenever I want,” said Francesa.  “I do them the length I want to do them.  I do them on any topic I want to do but basically, I’ve done sports.  They’ve been received very well.”

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Mike Francesa

When legendary sports talk host Mike Francesa initially retired from WFAN Radio in New York back in December of 2017, offers to do a podcast started to come in but it was not something that he wanted to get involved in.  Five months later, he came out of retirement and returned to WFAN but subsequently retired for a second time hosting his final show on July 24th, 2020.   

Under contract to WFAN for two more years, Francesa was not allowed do to anything locally and only did one interview last year, a cameo Mike and the Mad Dog reunion with Chris Russo on Mad Dog’s Sirius XM show.

For the most part, Mike was only getting his sports takes out to his fans via his Twitter account but the offers to do a podcast continued to come in, particularly from a handful of gambling operations that were looking for star power.

“A couple of them came after me and offered me pretty outstanding amounts of money,” said Francesa.  “These gambling companies have come in and paid a lot of money to a lot of people but they wanted people who had name recognition because that’s what they were looking for.”

Ultimately, the Bet Rivers Network impressed Francesa during their presentation and they signed the iconic radio giant to do The Mike Francesa Podcast which launched back in March.

“It’s been easy,” said Francesa. “I noticed now that basically that’s where everything is going.  It’s all gone there. I haven’t studied the economics of the podcasts for the companies the way I knew radio. Radio is changing obviously. Local radio is changing dramatically.”

Francesa generally does two podcasts a week, a solo show on Monday that recaps the weekend in sports and another show later in the week with guests. He has the flexibility to do more if a big sports event is taking place or there’s breaking news and the plan is to ramp things up once the football season gets underway.

“I do them whenever I want,” said Francesa.  “I do them the length I want to do them. I do them on any topic I want to do but basically, I’ve done sports. They’ve been received very well.”

As part of his deal, Francesa is also voicing Bet Rivers’ radio commercials and will do two public appearances for them with the first one scheduled for September.   

And, he hired his WFAN producer Brian Monzo to help out with the podcast.   

“Monz had left the FAN which I wasn’t even aware of,” said Francesa. “He wanted to come aboard so he’s handing all of my technical stuff. Everything goes through him. I have a studio in the house so it works out great.”  

Francesa was obviously skeptical about podcasts a few years ago, but now he is embracing it as the landscape of radio, particularly on the local side, continues to evolve with content and social media elements that were not in place back in the day. Not only was Mike, arguably, the most successful sports talk show host in history, but he was also a student of the game understanding the business end of broadcasting.

Today, sports talk radio is a whole new ballgame.

“It has changed,” said Francesa. “They want to generate social media applications and awareness there and hits there because they are moving their advertising as much to those platforms as they are to regular radio platforms. I don’t think that has been successful for local radio stations. Clearly, they aren’t paying the salaries that they paid years ago.”  

As far as the economics of podcasts go, Francesa is still learning. The reality is that there are a lot of podcasts out there but the challenge is always how to monetize them. Some are able to and some are not, but so far Francesa’s new venture has been a success in terms of the interest from the listeners and also the reaction from his new bosses.

“I don’t know the economics,” said Francesa of podcasts. “I don’t see how a lot of them could be economically solvent but I really haven’t looked into it that much. So far, the response has been very good (to his podcast). (Bet Rivers) is very happy with them.”

To a certain extent, Francesa’s podcast is very much like his radio show in that he can express his thoughts and share his takes on sports news and issues on his own terms. With the podcast, Francesa can deliver what he used to in a three or four hour talk show in a nicely compacted half-hour to one hour podcast depending on if it’s a show with guests.

After he’s provided his commentary on sports issues and whatever else he chooses to talk about, Francesa will end the podcast by taking some emails from his fan. It’s the closest he can get now to taking phone calls because, at the moment, phone calls are not a part of the podcasts which are all pre-recorded.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a live element,” said Francesa. “It’s been discussed.  A couple of other companies had talked to me about doing something live once a week. I think these companies intend on moving in that direction where they are going to have some appointment radio that’s going to be live.”  

Francesa has a couple of ideas for potential live shows.

One could be for an hour every week, maybe around noon. Another possibility for a half an hour on NFL Sundays at 7:30pm eastern time before the night game starts.

“I’ve thought about that,” said Francesa. “I might do something like that because that would be very timely and very popular.” 

Francesa has been doing a baseball podcast just about each week with former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, also under contract to Bet Rivers, and he plans on doing a Football Friday podcast.

In a lot of ways, it will mirror the football program that he did each Friday on WFAN. 

“We’re going to hire some people for the football season,” said Francesa. “They also have people under contract like Mike Ditka, Mark Schlereth and all these different people that they have signed around the country that I can use if I want.”

As for his former employers, Francesa has pretty much distanced himself from WFAN.  He did go on the air at the FAN to say goodbye to retiring longtime update anchors John Minko and Bob Heussler.   

There actually could have been a cameo return for Francesa to do a show.

This past Friday, July 1st, was the 35th anniversary of WFAN going on the air becoming the first ever all-sports radio station in 1987.

“WFAN asked me to do a show on July 1st on the anniversary,” said Francesa. “I (couldn’t) do it but I did voice a message to the fans on the 35th anniversary.”

Between his early days on WFAN, the Mike and the Mad Dog show and his solo program, Francesa was a huge part of the station’s success, but the radio station has certainly entered a new era.

In addition to Francesa, many of the names and personalities that helped in the station’s growth and sustainability, like Minko, Huessler, Steve Somers, Harris Allen and Tony Paige have all retired and are no longer on WFAN.

Since his retirement, Francesa continues to follow sports as closely as he did when he did his show, but he has not listened to WFAN very much.

“I don’t hear the FAN a lot to be honest with you,” admitted Francesa. “I really don’t. If I’m in the car, I might put it on but I really have not heard the FAN very much. I haven’t listened to it a whole lot. It just hasn’t fit my schedule very well. I haven’t heard a lot of sports talk. I watch the games. I hear the games. I listen to the ballgames on the radio if I’m in the car. I watch everything like always.”

And now, with the The Mike Francesa Podcast on the Bet Rivers Network, the iconic sports talk show personality has a platform to, like always, deliver his sports commentary to so many listeners who enjoyed his shows on WFAN. And, like always, when something big is happening in sports, Mike Francesa is once again a must-listen like he was for many years on afternoon drive radio in New York.

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Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

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Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

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