TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison interviews WFAN sports talk superstar Mike Francesa on this week’s installment of the international hit podcast series, “Up Close and Far Out.” In an exclusive 30-minute conversation, Harrison and Francesa cover a variety of fascinating topics including authenticity in broadcasting, internet critics, digital era audiences, radio versus television, changes in pop culture, the phenomenal growth of sports and the future of radio in a world of screens.
Francesa credits the authenticity, for which Harrison praises him, in part, to being on the air an unusually long five-and-a-half hours per day, pointing out that you can’t be live on radio that long every day without being your real self. According to Francesa, one of the big changes faced by hosts in both sports and general talk programming today is the audience has as much, if not more, access to information as you do – which means merely presenting news is not enough.
A host’s success is dependent on having an interesting “take” on the events of the day. He says the internet has made it much easier to break into broadcasting but much more difficult to get noticed. Of his critics, he states the worst thing that can happen is to be ignored. “If you are ignored, you are dead.”
Francesa tells Harrison that he very seldom responds to his critics – refusing to give them the exposure of his larger platform that they seek. In addition to having a growing national following due to television and radio syndication, Mike Francesa has long been one of the highest profile media figures in New York and has been ranked by TALKERS magazine for the past two years in a row in the #1 spot on its “Heavy Hundred” of sports talk radio (“The 100 Most Important Radio Sports Talk Hosts in America”).
After several years of being carried by the YES Network, Francesa’s daily local radio show is presently simulcast nationally on Fox Sports 1. In comparing radio to television, Francesa says, “Television is a director’s medium. Radio is a performer’s medium.” He explains, “Radio is unvarnished. It is visceral. It is emotional. Television is more packaged and homogenized.” Regarding the survival and future of radio, Francesa states, “Radio will be here long, long past us. People have been trying to kill radio since the first days of television. They’ve tried to kill radio 40 different times in multiple generations. They will never kill it because its appeal of being live, local, personal and mobile will never be equaled.”
Francesa sees the rise of mobile digital media as actually being a good thing for radio, acknowledging that “radio will change.” He confidently says, “It will be enhanced because of the smart phone. It is the new transistor radio. Who carried a transistor radio for the past 30 years? Now everyone does. THAT is an opportunity!”
To listen to Mike Francesa on “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” please click here or click on the special player box in the right hand column of every page on Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com.