The Mike and the Mad Dog 9/11 Tapes

Mike and Mad

I just stumbled upon this article at Deadspin.

As I have written here before, I spent a lot of time over the years listening to WFAN, New York City’s first sports-talk radio station.  Between 1989 and 2008 Mike Francesa and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo were the heart and soul of the station.  Their afternoon drive-time show “Mike and the Mad Dog” dominated the New York City radio airwaves, especially among men between the ages of 25 and 55.  (Francesa is still at WFAN.  Russo now has his own Series XM Radio channel).

I was living in Valparaiso, Indiana on September 11, 2001 and was thus not listening to Mike and Mad Dog.  I never really thought about how they would have reacted to the tragic events of that day until I read this piece.

I had no idea that they did a controversial show on September 12, 2011. I also did not know that this show was not preserved or made available to the media.  Keith Draper and Nick Martin have located a recording of the show and they have analyzed it extensively at Deadspin.

Here is a taste:

On Sept. 12, 2001, Mike and the Mad Dog host Mike Francesa drove to his local gas station to fill up the tank before coming into work. The station was owned by an “Arabic family,” and he said he could tell that the man working was understandably nervous given the previous day’s events, so he “gave him a slap on the back” before leaving the station.

 Francesa related this anecdote on the air later that day, as he and partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo spent the six hours of their WFAN afternoon drive radio show occasionally discussing sports, but mostly the 9/11 attacks, and how they happened, who was responsible, and, critically, who should be blamed.

That broadcast, and the broadcasts on the days that followed, entered into a shadowy sports-radio infamy because of what was supposedly said. The Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter to WFAN program director Mark Chernoff denouncing how Francesa and Russo spoke about Jews and Israel, New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick wrote a number of critical columns about the duo’s 9/11 takes, and Francesa and Russo even addressed it for an upcoming 30 for 30 documentary.

But the actual tapes of the Sept. 12, 2001 Mike and the Mad Dog broadcast were seemingly not preserved and never made available. Mushnick asked WFAN for them and was stonewalled. The director of the 30 for 30 couldn’t locate them. Chernoff told us that WFAN doesn’t have them in an archive.

According to former WFAN employees, at the time the Mike and the Mad Dog show was recorded onto six-hour long VHS tapes. The video track was from a station security camera. But these tapes would only be stored for six months, at most, before they were re-used and recorded over. Only certain portions—say, an interview with a coach that might be replayed—were transferred off of VHS onto audio cassettes. In the days before the huge capacity of external hard drives, WFAN didn’t keep an archive filled with endless physical tapes.

Rumors continued to suggest that the tape was somewhere out there, however, and Deadspin was able to confirm that in the years afterwards there were—at the very least—two copies of the Sept. 12, 2001, broadcast of Mike and the Mad Dog.

Read the entire piece here.