Francesa at the annual Bar A show in Belmar, New Jersey in 2008
|Born||(1954-03-20) March 20, 1954
Long Beach, New York, U.S.
|Station(s)||WFAN (New York City)
Fox Sports 1 (nationally)
|Time slot||1–6:30 p.m., Monday–Friday
9 a.m.–12 p.m., Sunday (during the NFL season)
Michael Patrick “Mike” Francesa, Jr. (born March 20, 1954) is an American radio talk show host and television commentator. He is primarily known in his former role co-hosting the popular Mike and the Mad Dog show on WFAN in New York City. Francesa now hosts his own show, Mike’s On: Francesa on the FAN, during the afternoon drive slot formerly occupied by Mike and the Mad Dog.
Francesa started his career by spending six years at College and Pro Football Newsweekly. He was hired by CBS Sports in 1982 as a researcher, focusing primarily on college sports. In CBS Sports, he was initially a behind-the-scenes, statistic-wielding editorial assistant, but network executives were so impressed by his knowledge that he was made a studio analyst for college basketball and football and acquired such a reputation that The New Yorker termed him “Brent Musburger’s brain.”
When WFAN was launched in 1987, Francesa thought he would be good at radio and applied for a host job, but the station management was looking for top-shelf types, rather than someone with no experience and he was only offered a producer’s job, which he rejected. With his then-wife Kate’s encouragement, Francesa continued to pursue WFAN. Finally WFAN gave him a job as a weekend host talking college football and basketball in August 1987. Because of the positive reviews, Francesa began to guest-host other shows.
Because of his initial success as a weekend and fill-in host, he was teamed with local New York City host Ed Coleman and the duo had a popular show on the 10 a.m.–2 p.m. slot. In 1989, WFAN was looking for hosts to replace the controversial Pete Franklin in the afternoon drive time period between 3 and 7 p.m. Station management decided to team the knowledgeable, but somewhat dry Francesa with the young and vibrant Chris Russo. While Francesa’s brand of sports commentating was considered hard-hitting and serious, Russo’s was lighter, unconventional, and more entertaining. The show was dubbed Mike and the Mad Dog. The show quickly gained popularity and was a staple of the New York sports scene from 1989 to 2008. The duo won the 2000 Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year. They were the first sports-talk hosts ever to win the award.
Francesa also hosts a weekly radio show called The NFL Now, which has originated from WFAN since 1987. It eventually became syndicated and at one time was simulcast on MSNBC and later via video Webcast on NBCSports.com. The NFL Now became a syndicated program again when WBZ-FM in Boston started airing the show, a few weeks after the station’s launch. Francesa on the FAN was seen on the YES Network from 2008 until 2014.
He does the nightly “Sportstime” commentary on the CBS Radio Network and Westwood One. Francesa regularly contributed to the Imus in the Morning program with his views on sports while it aired on WFAN and Westwood One.
During his show’s time on the YES Network, Francesa’s trademark intro to a show hosted by himself was “From the studios of WFAN in New York and simulcast across the country on the YES Network, this is Mike’s On: Francesa on the FAN.”
On August 14, 2008, it was announced that Chris “Mad Dog” Russo decided to leave WFAN, and thus ended the Mike and the Mad Dog show two weeks shy of its 19th anniversary scenario. This ended two months of speculation of whether the show was going to make it to a 20th season. At the same time, Francesa signed a five-year deal to stay at WFAN. September 8, 2008 officially marked the kickoff of Francesa’s new WFAN program, which he announced on air would be called Mike’d Up, the same name as his former weekly television program on WNBC.
On January 17, 2012 the show was renamed Mike’s On. After Francesa left the show Mike’d Up: The Francesa Sports Final in WNBC, the television station retained the rights to the name of the show. NBC and CBS did not reach an agreement for the rights and WFAN changed the name.
In 2012, Mike Francesa was ranked No. 1 as the 100 most important sports talk radio hosts in America by Talkers Magazine. Francesa credited colleagues at WFAN for his success with special salute to Russo. He was also ranked the No. 1 sports talk radio host for the second year in a row by Talkers in 2013, and then again in 2014. Additionally, Francesa won the 2012 Marconi Award for Major Market Personality of the Year, which is his second since 2000. The announcement was made on September 20 at the 2012 National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards Dinner and Show in Dallas, TX. On April 2, 2013 CBS Radio announced that Francesa was signed to a new multi-year contract to host Mike’s On, as well as The NFL Now.
On March 24, 2014, Francesa’s show began broadcasting nationally on Fox Sports 1. He changed his trademark intro to the show to “From the studios of WFAN in New York and simulcast across the country on Fox Sports 1, this is Mike’s On: Francesa on the FAN.” The relationship with Fox Sports was tumultuous at times so, Francesa and Fox Sports did not renew the contract to continue simulcasting his radio show effective September 11, 2015. Mike took primary responsibility for the relationship not succeeding.
Francesa was born and raised in Long Beach, New York. He is the second son of Michael Francesa, Sr., who abandoned the family when Francesa was eight years old. He has an older brother, John and a younger brother, Marty, who committed suicide on November 27, 1990. He attended Maria Regina High School, now Kellenberg, in Uniondale, and graduated from St. John’s University in 1977 (transferring there after one year at the University of South Florida), majoring in communications and athletic administration. He first married Kate in 1983 but divorced in the 1990s.
Currently a resident of Manhasset, New York. Francesa married his current wife, Rose (whom he usually refers to as Roe), on July 14, 2000 and they have three children, fraternal twins Emily Grace and Jack Patrick (10) and Harrison James (8).
Francesa has also had a number of health problems. He had reconstructive surgery on both of his knees. He participated in junior varsity high school baseball, but was cut. He frequently refers to his “baseball career” on the air, garnering him some derision because of the use of the word “career” in reference to his high school playing days.
During the first week of June 2006, Francesa missed a few days on the radio for what was termed as ‘personal reasons’. Soon after returning, on the June 8, 2006 show, he revealed that following medical tests, he needed to change his diet due to his weight struggles. He also admitted to going to the hospital to get an angioplasty done. Francesa had emergency knee surgery on August 31, 2006 to repair his shattered kneecap when he played golf the day before in Westhampton Beach, New York.