Mike Francesa said Tuesday that he no longer is seeking to leave WFAN before his contract expires at the end of 2017, in part because of an improvement in his strained relationship with CBS Radio, WFAN’s parent company.
“I have come to the conclusion there is no way to do anything but play out my contract,” he said. “I’ve come to the conclusion, and the company has made it clear, that that’s what they want to happen, and there really is no other way to deal with it.”
Francesa said “a lot of the disputes that we had have been rectified in one way or another, so we don’t have anything hanging over our heads right now.”VoteMike Francesa: Fan or foe?
One of the biggest was Francesa’s frustration over his simulcast arrangement with Fox Sports, which often preempted him or moved him from Fox Sports 1 to the less-well-distributed Fox Sports 2.
Francesa’s show left Fox in September, and since then it has been widely speculated he would land elsewhere on television, with MSG believed to be the most logical choice.
But Francesa said there are “no developments” on that front and that it is possible if no acceptable deal comes along there will be no simulcast at all.
“The idea of just doing the radio show gives me a lot of flexibility that I haven’t had in a very, very long time, and a lot of it is appreciated,” he said.
Not having to worry about TV arrangements allows for moving the show to different locations on short notice, and bringing fewer people and less equipment along.
Francesa has been simulcast since the old “Mike and the Mad Dog” show came to the YES Network in 2002.
“There is an upside (to not being on TV), and an upside I hadn’t experienced in a long time that I have to admit is very welcome,” he said. “Right now I’m kind of enjoying being a radio show.”
Francesa said he has not considered his next step beyond Dec. 31, 2017. “I’m not looking one day past that,” he said. “Time goes very fast. Two years is a very short time in our business. As you get older you find out how fast time goes.”
Whether or not the radio show goes to MSG, Francesa maintains a close relationship with Madison Square Garden officials. That led in part to last week’s announcement that he and his former partner, Chris Russo, would reunite for a fundraising show for the Garden of Dreams Foundation at Radio City Music Hall March 30.
Francesa said early interest has been strong and that organizers expect a quick sellout when tickets officially go on sale on a date to be determined.
In addition to the charitable aspect, Francesa said he was attracted by the opportunity to play Radio City, “one of the great venues in the world. I’m thrilled ... I’m honored to play the building.”
The one-time-only reunion has renewed speculation about the possibility of a more permanent show for the pair. But Francesa said that probably is not in the cards.
“At this stage of our careers, and the stage the business is in right now, I think it is extremely, extremely unlikely,” he said.
But while there would be economic hurdles to a more extensive reunion, Francesa insisted he and Russo have maintained a mostly positive personal relationship since breaking up in 2008.
“We’ve never had a cross word since we split up, never had an argument since we split up,” he said. “There were some people trying to drag us into things to try and promote the new avenues we were each traveling. I think that’s logical and I think it was other people dragging us into that and into comments that probably never needed to be made.
“But we never didn’t get along.”
When Francesa and Russo made the announcement about their reunion Thursday on WFAN and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, they said they would make joint appearances in the coming months to promote the show.
But Francesa said that might not be necessary if the tickets sell out as quickly as expected. What about the long-rumored possibility of Russo showing up at the annual “FrancesaCon” event in late January?
“There has been some discussion about whether Dog would make an appearance there,” Francesa said. “Everyone will have to wait until that day to find out.”
Francesa said the Radio City proceeds all will go to the foundation because the Garden is picking up expenses and there will be no complimentary tickets.
Francesa said the goal is to raise more than $1 million for the foundation, which supports various programs for young people in need.