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Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s contract with SiriusXM expires in 2024. He says he will reassess his options at that time, after the Super Bowl.
“I am 64 years old in two months. I can’t be doing this forever, correct?” Russo told Sports Illustrated this week.
“So from that perspective, you know I will definitely, definitely be everywhere through, say, February 14th. Give me a little leeway where I can at least reassess my life after I have everybody away for a term.”
Russo details that the uncertainty lies with his four kids moving out of the house and working across the country, where he plans to visit them in the coming year:
“I get a kid who’s going to be the third assistant in Northern Arizona. You don’t think I’m going to be wrapped up in Flagstaff, Arizona there for a good part of the season? I have a daughter in San Diego. You think I’m not going to be interested in going out there to see her? I got Colin who is at Wisconsin. I could see him doing radio in a year or so, his senior year in Madison. And then you got a kid in Chicago going to college. So from that standpoint, freedom is important.”
Russo clarifies he does not plan to leave radio for a podcast or streaming service, as his former WFAN co-host Mike Francesa has with BetRivers.
Specifically, Mad Dog doesn’t believe other forms of media can replicate the immediacy and spontaneity of radio.
Russo joined SiriusXM in 2008 as the face of the newly created Mad Dog Sports Radio channel. He established the channel, paving a home for Stephen A. Smith and Pat McAfee at Sirius.
He originally had a say over programming but is now only the namesake of the network. The namesake and the biggest star, that is.
Thus, Sirius would be a hard sell for sports fans without Mad Dog.
Adam Schein, who anchors the 9 am to noon hours on the channel, is the most underrated radio host in the industry. His skillset warrants a large platform. But Schein is only one person and doesn’t have the national cachet of Russo.
For those reasons, Sirius is likely to give Russo what he wants, which would appear to be more days off.
Don’t expect Mad Dog to receive a Howard Stern-like schedule, three days a week for about 37 weeks a year. Though perhaps more time off to travel to Arizona to see his son would suffice.
In addition to radio, Russo is signed with ESPN until March 2024, where he appears weekly on First Take with Stephen A.. ESPN pays Mad Dog $10,000 an episode and provides him with a mainstream platform.
Thereby expect Russo to stay on First Take until staffers revolt against ESPN for allowing an old white guy on television. (We are not joking.)
Russo also hosts a daily television program on MLB Network called High Heat. (High Heat is not to be mistaken with High Noon, the failed ESPN program.)
Baseball is Mad Dog’s favorite sport. He is an institution to baseball fans. Yet if he is to cut back his schedule, perhaps MLB Network is where he does.
MLB Network does not have the reach for Russo to amass anything more than a niche audience of older viewers. Moreover, the network recently moved High Heat from 1 pm to 11 am, stretching Mad Dog’s work day by hours. He doesn’t begin radio until 3 pm.
Russoe remains one of the few joyful voices in sports talk. At OutKick, we often criticize the state of the industry. It’s broken. Whiny, spoiled brats have inundated the field. Think Mina Kimes
Networks have turned to the likes of Domonique Foxworth, Sarah Spain, and the recently fired Bomani Jones to cover sports– none of whom relate or apprentice sports fans.
According to Foxworth and Bomani, sports fans are racist. Seriously.
Russo doesn’t call anyone racist, except for actual racists. He doesn’t speak down to his audience. Instead, he is one of them. Mad Dog is a sports fan on air talking about sports, a formula so simple yet so rare in modern media.
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo should be a sought-after free agent next year. He would provide value to any competitor, be it FS1, Fox Sports Radio, FanDuel, DraftKings, or ESPN on a larger scale.