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The Iconic Legacy of Mike Golic

Mike Golic concluded his 22-year morning radio run this morning in a family-filled airing. Emotions and feelings don’t describe his historical run, but the word family succinctly does.

On-air personalities are routinely accused of shticks and amplifying personas. Skip Bayless has his takes; Stephen A. Smith has his volume. Howard Stern’s skits are his signature. Mike Francesa is synonymous with arrogance. Golic is a family man, that’s his brand.

Golic’s shows, between three different co-hosts — Tony Bruno, Mike Greenberg, Trey Wingo — differed. But all three had one common thread: they were family first. Golic’s family. His kids grew up with his listeners, and later his viewers. In the morning show’s third iteration, his son, Mike Golic Jr., joined him as an on-air host.

“Even when we turn off our mics, you still get to be our Dad,” Golic Jr. said this morning on Golic and Wingo.

Golic invited the audience into his living room, they invited him back into theirs. Sports fans, of all ages and interests, woke up with Golic. His audience varied from star athletes to celebrities; to the every-man to the hungover sports nut; to mothers driving their children to school.

“I would have mothers come up to me and say, ‘You know what, I appreciate? When I was driving the kids to school, I never had to worry about turning it down or turning the channel real quick because you were going to say something my kids shouldn’t hear,'” Golic reminisced with Sarah Spain this week.

Over the last 22 years sports media changed. A few times. Social media was born. Hot takes replaced reason. Buzz became more lucrative than quality. Golic didn’t change, and that’s why it worked. It is why he worked.

Being ‘relatable’ and ‘likable’ are the most underrated skills in sportscasting. Two qualities mostly overlooked and forgotten about. Golic personified both. He reminded his audience of their jolly uncle — they felt comfortable with him. His programs were smart, funny, self-deprecating, and always focused on sports. This all sounds so simple, but so few do it. Even fewer do it well.

Golic is an industry stalwart. A default early-morning escape from the toxic world that this is. His listeners connected with him. They heard him raise his children, saw him go from chubby to fit (still hard to fathom), and experienced him sing Darius Rucker on-air.

As the experience grew wider, Golic’s Q-rating expanded. He was on with David Letterman, a few times. Everyone, in and around the sports world, knows who he is.

On the Sports Talk Mount Rushmore, it’s Jim Rome, Chris Russo, and Mike Francesa. The fourth spot is open. Golic’s resume is enough to make his case. (Other options include Paul Finebaum, Tony Kornheiser, Colin Cowherd, Dan Patrick, and Golic’s former co-host, Mike Greenberg.)

Golic is a radio legend. It’s hard to do anything well for over two decades. He did it in a field infamous for constant change.

Humans are creatures of habit. Particularly, in the morning. For sports fans, Golic is a morning routine. When habits are involuntarily disrupted, individuals quickly oppose. Golic’s successors now face the aftermath.

Golic wanted to remain on morning radio; ESPN chose to move him. This is a mistake. Replacing Golic is forcing coffee drinkers to drink tea. ESPN is removing waffles from the breakfast table. It’s throwing out a peaceful alarm clock for a startling, unsettling new sound.

On August 17, ESPN rolls out its new radio lineup. Keyshawn, Jay and Zubin take over for Golic. Sources around the industry have expressed serious doubts this show can work. The casting is lackluster and far from promising. Morning radio needed a revamp, but not at the expense of its draw. Golic, Golic Jr., and Jason Fitz checked off the boxes as a pragmatic replacement. The chemistry is there, it even extended off-air.

Golic’s future is much in the air. This season, assuming there is one, he’ll transition back into a college football role. His contract expires later in the year.

Whether he stays with ESPN or moves on, he established his legacy years ago with an unprecedented, industry-paving career.

If I were to say Golic’s 22-year run is inimitable, would you argue back?

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers any news story that deserves attention but focuses on media. His interests include reading Stephen King novels, avoiding traffic on the road, and pretending to solve true-crime mysteries. He still believes Cersei should've won and encourages everyone to always question the news.

8 Comments

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  1. Hey Bobby…great story about Mike’s legacy, and let’s hope he has a soft landing wherever he winds up after his ESPN contract expires. He is most assuredly an asset, and a team player, and no matter where he goes he’ll make an impact.

  2. 3 favorite memories of Golic ( all from Mike & Mike in the morning )

    1. The picture! If you don’t know just Google Mike Golic oil picture – you will not be disappointed.
    2. His face (and Mark Schlereth) when Greeny was pooped on by the cow.
    3. His wife called in one year on their anniversary. Greeny asked if there is one thing she wished she could change with Golic. Her reply- I wish he would clean up better after he manscapes! The look on his face was total horror. To this day I don’t know if she was truthful or kidding.

  3. Hello Bobby, finding myself reading more of your articles than probably any other writers in Outkick. Keep up the good work! Awesome that you included Jim Rome (Numero Uno) on the Mount Rushmore of Sports Radio (and surprised that you didn’t include your boss Clay on the list LOL – hope you don’t get into trouble!) Mike & Mike works only because of Golic’s authentic and outspoken style (w/ the pro athlete credibility), and not because of Mike Greenberg’s boring brand of anchorman-style sports radio. Greeny is way, way overpaid (corporate robbery), and lets’ hope that Golic gets to shine again somewhere else.

  4. Bobby … I subscribed due to this article.

    Mike Golic is someone I listened to for years. Every morning. Regardless of job or what I was doing I was listening. The enjoyment came from his affable manner and comfortable style. It was like hanging out with someone and listening them shoot the bull. When the divorce happened he didn’t wallow, he moved on and picked up with Wingo.

    Wingo was miscast. He’s like the student that waits too long to sign up for electives and ends up with his worst choice. You could tell Wingo never really got it, but that didn’t prevent Golic from keeping on.

    It is a shame ESPN made the decision they did, but things change. I cannot fault ESPN for wanting to try something new, but I can be patient and await Golic moving somewhere new.

    Anyway, thanks for the article and summing up the feelings many of us have about Golic.

  5. Good run for golic but lets not act like he is a radio legend. I dont recall him ever saying anything that was a) interesting, b) controversial or c) logical. He started most sentences with ” i i i i , ah, da, bla”. Greeny did all of the setup and prep, all golic had to do is roll outta bed and do the dumb jock routine ( be himself). Still, great successful career for him, well done.

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