The new year of 2013 is underway.
Also underway is the final year of a five-year contract that Chris Russo, better known in sports radio lore as "The Mad Dog," signed with SiriusXM Satellite Radio back in the summer of 2008. To do so, of course, he had to part ways with WFAN in New York, and end an on-air friendship with Mike Francesa (with whom he's still friends off the air).
Since the launch of the "Mad Dog Radio" channel in mid-November 2008, a number of on-air talent had left for other opportunities. Gary Williams left the morning show on MDR to join The Golf Channel's new wake-up program, "Morning Drive," with was then co-hosted by Erik Kuselias, who is now with NBC Sports. Williams' replacement in 2011 was Jason Horowitz from SiriusXM's NFL channel, but that was short-lived as Evan Cohen now co-hosts the MDR morning show alongside Steve Phillips, formerly with ESPN. And John Feinstein, who had been co-hosting the MDR midday show with Bruce Murray, departed to become the midday host at CBS Sports Radio. (For what it's worth, Scott Ferrall, who had previously hosted a sports program on SiriusXM's "Howard 101" channel - as in Howard Stern - also left to join CBSSR.)
It seems the only constants at the "Mad Dog Radio" channel have been Russo (naturally), who hosts the five-hour "Mad Dog Unleashed" show in afternoon drive; Murray; and evening host Dino Costa - and oh, by the way, his contract is going to be up at the end of the month. Costa foresees continuing to host a show on the SiriusXM platform, yet at the same time, he had some not-so-nice things to say about his boss, "Mad Dog" Russo.
While the fate of the "Mad Dog Radio" channel on SiriusXM won't be known until this summer at the latest, whether or not Costa re-signs with MDR, or SiriusXM, could be a giant clue. He might choose to leave satellite radio - and Russo - and do his own thing. Maybe he'll follow Feinstein and Ferrall to terrestrial radio, and any of the five sports radio networks that now exist.
Later this year, "Mad Dog" will be in the hot seat. Maybe he'll go back to terrestrial radio, as well. There is the usual prediction that he will once again team up with his old buddy, Mike Francesa, who is actually doing quite well flying solo on 'FAN.
But remember, the NBC Sports Radio network still has a few time slots to fill, as it will be broadcasting 24/7 on April 1. Unless they have someone else in mind to hand the vacant afternoon drive time slot to, "Mad Dog" should be a hot property.
The only downside of leaving SiriusXM for Russo is that he would no longer get the opportunity to be a guest DJ on E Street Radio, a music channel inspired by his idol, Bruce Springsteen.
Without Russo, and with or without Costa, "Mad Dog Radio" would likely continue as a sports talk channel on SiriusXM, albeit under a new name.
But when people take notice of the talent that have jumped ship, that can't be good dogma for the channel.
UPDATE, 3.4.13: Of note: Adam Schein, a veteran of CBS Sports as well as the SNY regional network, has been hired as the channel's new midday host. So what does this mean for previous midday host Bruce Murray?