Saturday, April 14, 2007

Unexpected Imus Fallout, Part II: WFAN in Deep Doo Doo

As mentioned in my Thursday post, Imus accounted for a whopping 25% of the revenue for radio station WFAN. In the wake of his firing by parent company CBS, it's an understatement to say that the station is in deep doo doo as they scramble to replace his spot. In the meantime, Mike & The Mad Dog are going to be on twice a day, for a total of something like 8 hours. How can they possibly keep that up?

From the New York Times:

Yesterday there was clearly no succession plan in place for Mr. Imus, but for the next two weeks, Mike Francesa and Christopher Russo, who are the co-hosts of the afternoon “Mike and Mad Dog” show on WFAN, will fill in, working from 6 to 10 a.m., tweaking their two-man act to have a slightly more national flavor. After the midday hosts, Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, expand their show to 2 p.m., Mr. Francesa and Mr. Russo will return to the air for the afternoon drive shift, from 2 to 6, which will be cut temporarily from their usual 1 to 6:30 p.m. slot.

Mr. Russo also said the program would be heard on all the stations that received “Imus in the Morning,” except those in Boston and Washington. A Westwood spokeswoman said she could not verify that.

Mike Barnicle, a frequent guest of Mr. Imus and the host of a talk show in Boston, was considered as an interim replacement, “but it didn’t work out,” said Karen Mateo, a spokeswoman for CBS Radio.

Mr. Francesa and Mr. Russo were first teamed at WFAN in 1989, two years after it pioneered the sports-radio format. Mr. Imus was never a sports aficionado, but sports were frequently discussed on his program.

He often tapped Mr. Francesa and Mr. Russo — whom he dubbed “Fatso and Fruit Loops” — for their sports knowledge. Ultimately, it was Mr. Imus’s toxic mix of sports and a racist comment that led to his stunningly abrupt fall.

“This place is reeling,” Mr. Russo said by telephone yesterday during a break in their program. Mr. Francesa, also during a break for commercials, added: “He was the rock upon which WFAN’s success and ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’s’ success were built. No ifs, ands or buts.”

Trouble. This is my favorite station. I'd hate to see the whole station go down because of one guy.


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