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Chris ’Mad Dog’ Russo, Suzyn Waldman and Jeff Smulyan Enter The Radio Hall of Fame

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The radio industry gathered in Chicago for the 2022 Radio Hall of Fame. The event took place at the Radisson Blu, and saw a number of sports media professionals in attendance. Among them, Spike Eskin of WFAN, Chris Oliviero of Audacy New York, Mitch Rosen of 670 The Score, Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network, and Steve Cohen, Steve Torre and Eric Spitz of SiriusXM.

The event, which was hosted by KFI’s Bill Handel and created by Kraig Kitchin and Dennis Green, saw a total of 10 broadcasters inducted into the radio hall of fame. Hosts Ellen K, Lon Helton, Walt ’Baby’ Love, Mark Thompson, Carol Miller, Marv Dyson and ’Broadway’ Bill Lee all received recognition for their contributions to the industry, offering personal stories about their careers and thank you’s to those who helped them along the way. Thompson’s speech in particular stood out, especially when he talked about stirring the pot and reminding the room that “attention draws ratings, ratings mean money, and money saves jobs.”

Ryan Seacrest flew in to introduce Ellen K, legendary morning host Scott Shannon was in the building, as were industry executives Julie Talbott, Ginny Morris, Susan Larkin, David Kantor, and Erik Hellum among others. But it was the three most connected to the sports radio industry who we were on hand to support.

Chris ’Mad Dog’ Russo, Suzyn Waldman and Jeff Smulyan each took their place among the industry’s greats. Russo was the first of the group to be recognized. A video of some of his on-air moments ran first, followed by an exceptionally moving video tribute sent in by Stephen A. Smith. The popular ESPN talker shared how much Russo has meant to him personally and professionally, throwing in a few jokes and Mad Dog impressions along the way.

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Russo then took the stage, promising to keep his speech short so everyone could get back to watching Game 3 of the World Series. After producing a few laughs, Mad Dog got serious and took everyone through his broadcasting journey. He shared how he got started in Jacksonville, got a break from Larry Khan, sent in a tape for a NYC job at WMCA that he saw in broadcasting magazine, became known as ‘Mad Dog’ thanks to Bob Raissman, and landed a weekend gig at WFAN.

He talked next about getting a break after Imus heard his weekend show, and an even bigger opportunity when Mark Mason paired him with Mike Francesa in afternoon drive. He talked about the Mike & the Mad Dog partnership, his decision to take a risk and move to SiriusXM, and all that he’s enjoyed and overcome to build an audience on Mad Dog Sports Radio.

After thanking his agent, his parents and wife, and sharing a story of how he and his wife first met, Chris explained that he’s had a great year but this honor is a big deal to him. As much as he’s loved First Take, Mike and the Mad Dog, and making more than thirty appearances on David Letterman’s former television show, radio is what he enjoys most. He shared how in late July he had just lost a Tennis match and was upset about it when his boss (Steve Cohen) called to tell him he had been chosen for induction into the radio hall of fame. Russo admitted he cried all the way home, and then exited the stage to a standing ovation.

The man who started the sports format, and operated some of the industry’s top radio brands in the biggest markets across the country, Jeff Smulyan, was next to address the room. After a classy video introduction from his longtime friend and programming boss Rick Cummings, Smulyan told the room his secret to success has been his family and surrounding himself with good people. He shared a few stories from his career and signed off by expressing his gratitude to the hall of fame for recognizing his work.

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Wrapping up the night was Suzyn Waldman. The New York Yankees broadcaster who was the first voice on WFAN congratulated Chris ’Mad Dog Russo’ and Jeff Smulyan on their honors and thanked Chris Oliviero for putting her on the ballot for entry into the hall of fame. Waldman talked about being recognized as a trailblazer but never sought out to be one. All she wanted to do was talk about sports.

Suzyn pulled no punches, detailing how many hurdles she had to overcome during her career to get to where she is now. She pointed out some of the male jealousy and unprofessional behavior she had to put up with and thanked Joel Hollander for having her back through all of it.

Waldman also thanked Mark Chernoff for giving her a shot in middays, Eric Spitz for taking her calls whenever she was frustrated, and Steve Cohen for the tremendous remote work they did together with Yankee programs. She shared how bringing Yogi Berra and George Steinbrenner together became a big part of her career, and thanked the former Yankees boss for believing in her. She then thanked her friends and colleagues, the hall of fame, and brought the show to a close.

Sports Radio News

Evan Roberts: Boomer Esiason Was Taking Shot at Craig Carton With FS1 Dig

“He said they only put the stuff no one cares about on FS1. And he did it with his Boomer smile where I knew what he was mentioning.”

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WFAN afternoon host Evan Roberts was listening to the station’s morning show, Boomer & Gio, and heard what he believed was a slight towards his current co-host Craig Carton Wednesday from Boomer Esiason.

“I heard Boomer this morning taking some shots at you. I did not like it,” Roberts said. “Did not like it. Big shots at my partner. He made a comment about how FOX puts stuff that no one cares about on FS1. And he meant that directly at you.”

“First off, he wouldn’t say that,” replied Carton.

“He said it. I listened. He said they only put the stuff no one cares about on FS1,” Roberts reiterated. “And he did it with his Boomer smile where I knew what he was mentioning. He wasn’t talking about anything other than his old, dear friend Craig. What a cheap shot.”

Carton, who hosts The Carton Show each weekday morning on FS1, said no one must have been listening to Boomer’s attack because he didn’t get any tweets or emails about it.

“Boomer’s probably listening — because he does listen to us — and he’s probably smiling saying ‘Evan’s right!’,” Roberts said before laughing out loud.

“If he did say it — next time — I’ll just ask a favor,” Carton asked of Esiason. “Reminder your listeners that I am on FS1 from 7:00-9:30 AM, but only until 9:00 AM this week because of World Cup soccer. If you’re gonna take a shot, it allows me to promote it. And I don’t promote it here.”

A caller later told Carton & Roberts the exact moment, down to the minute, of when Esiason made the quip about FS1. Producers then pulled up the clip, which they played on the air.

After hearing the clip, Carton joked FOX puts they stuff they don’t care about on FS2 before asking “Now I gotta figure out, do I respond or not? Or do I just let it go?” before concluding that he’s more mature than making a response.

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Sports Radio News

Fred Toucher Tells Paul Finebaum: Your Greatest Talent Is Not Losing It On Callers

“What you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off.”

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Paul Finebaum

98.5 The Sports Hub morning show Toucher & Rich has frequently pointed out the absurdity of callers into The Paul Finebaum Show. Thursday morning, the Boston show welcomed in the southern college football host to discuss what makes his show tick.

“I can’t tell you how big a thrill this is for me, because I didn’t realize how funny our show was until I started listening to you guys,” Finebaum joked.

“Part of the brilliance of your show is you just let these people go,” Fred Toucher said. “For those that don’t know, the instinct in what you’re actually taught in radio — and not to the benefit of people — is to move things along and cut people off. At what point did you realize ‘I’m just gonna let these dudes talk and see where they take it’?”

“I listened to all these radio goobs — I mean all these people in the corner office — tell us how to do it and I realized I can’t do that. I didn’t have the radio voice, I didn’t have the style, I didn’t have the energy. So I just sat there and literally listened to callers ramble on and I started to find the humor in it.

“It hit me one day that these people don’t have a voice,” Finebaum continued. “Especially in the south where we don’t have six or seven professional sports franchises. Callers started becoming famous and becoming a part of the show. We started having lunches with them for Christmas and various other things and days and I think we realized what we had and we made the most of it. Some of these callers really defy logic. I think I’ve given four or five eulogies at various callers funerals and I think that there’s a connection there.”

Finebaum then mentioned one of his more notorious callers, Legend. The caller actually spent more than 20 years in prison after shooting someone six times. Toucher said Legend has actually called into their show but they have never taken his call.

“We don’t take Legend because we’re not gonna do as good a job with him,” Toucher said. “I told our producer, I do not want to take Legend.”

“Paul’s a master with him,” Rich Shertenlieb added.

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Sports Radio News

Gregg Giannotti: CBS Won’t Show Deshaun Watson Accusers Sunday

“I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Quarterback Deshaun Watson is set to make his 2022 season debut against his former team on Sunday following an 11-game suspension. Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct, and 10 of the women who believe the now-Cleveland Browns QB preyed upon them are planning to attend the game in Houston. On Boomer & Gio on WFAN on Wednesday, co-host Gregg Giannotti had a thought on CBS cameras dedicating a snippet of the game broadcast to showing the women in attendance.

“I wonder does like the broadcast show them?” Gio asked to co-host Boomer Esiason. “Are you guys gonna have to talk about that on The NFL Today?”

“I have no idea,” Esiason responded. Boomer explained that they hadn’t had their production meeting for this week’s show, but he felt like beyond that he and Gio had already discussed the Watson situation at great length.

Still, Gio said if he were in charge of the CBS broadcast, he would find a way to show the alleged victims’ faces.

“I mean you could show them and explain the situation,” he said. “I think people know what’s going on. You’re not gonna show them and start trashing them on the broadcast.”

Once the 2022 NFL season started, and Watson accepted the suspension and began going through the various processes he needed to go through in order to be reinstated, the focus shifted away from the story. But Gio added that now that Watson is ready to play, the story gets thrust back into the limelight.

“Nobody was talking about it for weeks and weeks and weeks, and now he’s back,” he said. “And now it’s back.”

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