Suzyn Waldman and Christopher Russo cross paths again
Of course, it’s fitting that Suzyn (Ma Pinstripe) Waldman and Christopher (MadDog) Russo enter the Radio Hall of Fame together as part of the Class of 2022.
The most obvious parallel is their connection and contributions to WFAN, the nation’s premier, 24-hour, all-sports radio station. Yet, we’re not here today to spotlight their resumes, territory familiar that has been told over and over again.
These are more observations made over three decades. What really powers them? And why should they enter the radio room together? Both were lucky. They didn’t have to make a character. They’ve been blessed with an authenticity – for better or worse – that they bring to the microphone every time they speak to an audience. They never tried to be someone else.
For Waldman, that means not shy away from showing raw emotion. Like when she went gaga over the sight of Roger Clemens stepping onto the balcony of George Steinbrenner’s stadium suite on May 6, 2007, and telling the unwashed masses he was coming back to the Yankees. “Oh, my God, graciously. Of all the dramatic things I’ve ever seen,” a high-volume Waldman proclaimed on WCBS-AM radio during the Mariners-Yankees 7th inning.
The stirring emotion in Waldman’s soul welled up. She didn’t hold back. Always not.
Russo, who has been blowing at SiriusXM for 15 years after 19 years at FAN, doesn’t need a muzzle either. And he does not know the meaning of the modification. Russo’s hoarse cry, his mutilated grammar, his coat of many malaprops have always made him authentic, an original. Over the years, an assortment of Gasbags have tried to appropriate his style only to find that it was impossible to duplicate.
There’s nothing like the real thing.
His outrageous, entertaining and sometimes arrogant opinions are often humorous. They can also sting. The mischievous/sneaky side of the dog has always come naturally. Russo has spent a career agitating people. He must take advantage of it. Still, not enough to ever want to be cast as the heavy. It’s obvious that Doggie doesn’t want to come out of radio fracas with a guilty conscience.
That’s why Russo often prefaced a tear job by saying, “I like so and so, but…….”
It’s also ironic that Waldman and Russo, after waiting too long, walk into the radio room together. Many moons ago, they were involved in a famous “interaction” that revealed Waldman’s tenacity. It also amplified Russo’s desire to never be picked as a heavyweight. The tense exchange came 12 days after Clemens appeared in Steinbrenner’s sequel.
Russo and his partner Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa, who was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2018, repeatedly replayed the audio of Waldman celebrating Clemens’ return, adding their cutting commentary, mocking her. Before a Subway Series game at Shea Stadium, Waldman looked for Russo near the radio booth and confronted him.
Russo told Waldman, “We were just having fun (playing the Clemens audio).”
Waldman said she hoped he “had his two fun days because you ruined my life in the process.”
Dog followed Waldman and tried to calm her down. Instead, she dropped two F-bombs on Russo and punctuated her “remarks,” accusing Doggie of “talking behind my back for 20 years.”
It has been more than 15 years since this “meeting” failed. All psychological wounds should have healed. And their long careers in the spotlight have also provided proof that every voice is tougher than your average Gasbag or baseball radio analyst.
After all, Russo spent nearly two decades working on an often stormy Mount Ego, with the sports pope, who could be in a bad mood at times (that’s nice). And in their 18th season together, Waldman continues to star with John (Pa Pinstripe) Sterling, the Yankees’ quirky radio voice.
That Russo and Waldman not only survived but thrived under the thumbs of these two demanding mouths is not only a testament to their ability to lift heavy loads, but reason enough for their induction into the Radio Hall of Fame.
After being asked what he thought of the performance of YES analysts Cameron Maybin and Carlos Beltran, Yankee prez Randy Levine threw out what looked like a vote of confidence for rookie voices who suffered some heat external. Levine said the opinions of WFAN’s Evan Roberts and Craig Carton were “subjective,” adding that he believed each guy brought a “different” type of “perception” to Yankees TV shows. Yet despite Levine’s optimism, it seems Beltran is on shaky ground at YES.
With MLB offering its national television partners consistent audio access, it would be nice to see the sound recording of players, managers and others extended to the local level. So maybe YES or SNY could demystify the proofreading process by chronicling it with microphones and cameras. The piece could be taped and used on either team’s pre-game show… ESPN’s Derek Jeter documentary is compelling and a must-watch for Bombers fanatics in the New York market. Not sure it has the kind of juice, or mainstream appeal, to conquer markets outside of the metropolitan area.
It’s not a stretch to suggest that the Audacy suits didn’t break the bank (like their predecessors did) to acquire a multi-year extension of their Yankee radio contract… How long John (Pa Pinstripe) Will Sterling be part of this new contract? The way it was portrayed, Sterling was all on board with Audacy’s plan to scale back (limited travel) their WFAN schedule for the remainder of this season. Nevertheless, an in-the-know mole says Sterling initially resisted being taken out of road games and ultimately wasn’t entirely on board with the plan… WFAN’s Keith McPherson has improved his status as a cheerleader of the Yankees after the Bombers were swept by the Mets. He went on the air Thursday morning and incredibly claimed that the Yankees (whom he called ‘us’) didn’t ‘care’ about this episode of the Subway series and had ‘bigger fish to fry’ than the Yankees. Put. His take prompted a call from FAN colleague Sal Licata, who told McPom-Pom, “You’re lying between your fucking teeth.” And: “I don’t do the ‘we’. I am a broadcaster. Give Licata credit for not getting to the bottom of things, which he is more than capable of, and making this an all out Fan Boys battle. This is the direction McPherson has tried to take this “debate”.…. Was anyone else surprised that Norman Julius Esiason didn’t try to take credit for Mekhi Becton’s sudden weight loss?
To take care. His donation to pay for the funeral expenses of all the victims of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas deserves recognition. Jackson, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbot, wanted families to have “one less thing to worry about as they grieve.”
The mouths of many college football coaches exceed their brains. Smart is just the latest to act like a clown. The Georgia coach slammed the well-meaning NIL program for athletes as he signed his new contract for more than $10 million a season. Ouch!
What Aaron Boone said: “It’s fake news that you can have too many power hitters. We have savages in the lineup. What Aaron Boone meant: “(Expletive deleted) you. We are a home run or bust team.