Thank you, Mike Francesa, for the memories and the inspiration
ESNY contributor John Santamaria with Mike Francesa at the 2012 WFAN Fantasy Phenom auditions

As Mike Francesa signs off this afternoon after 30 years on the airwaves of WFAN, I look back at the impact he’s had on me.

Growing up I have always been a fan of sports. My first love is baseball and as a Mets fan I would ask my parents to put the games on the radio in the car wherever it was we were going. I was then introduced to WFAN—Sports Radio 66—the Mets radio home until the end of the 2013 season.

You would hear advertisements for a show known as Mike and the Mad Dog come on from time to time. I didn’t know much about them but tuned in to the program when I was able to after school. I knew from a young age that broadcasting was what I was going to pursue as my career and I began to watch different types of shows on various mediums. When the simulcast on the YES Network was introduced, I would tune in for Mike and the Mad Dog. That was the start for me and my following of Mike Francesa.

I remember some moments from the Mike and the Mad Dog days but my biggest memories are from the recent years when Mike did the show solo. From the day I started driving at 18 years old and got my first car to this day at age 27, WFAN is a constant in my car, especially on weekday afternoons. Through it all in my life, whether I had a good day or a bad day, I always knew I had a show to listen to on that ride home and catch up on the day in sports. I have lived through a lot of big stories in New York sports and the first place I would hear it was from Mike, who would always give you the best information.

For me, Mike Francesa has not just been a daily listen but a model for how to succeed in a very competitive business. I was able to audition in the station’s Fantasy Phenom contest twice and to have Mike as a judge on those days was an honor. Even though I didn’t win, it was an incredible opportunity to audition in front of him and station management to even be considered for a weekly show. When I was in college and taking radio courses, I modeled a lot of projects based on his show because of the impact it has had on me.

The next few months on weekday afternoons will sound a bit different but I am forever grateful for the years I was able to listen to an icon on sports talk radio. Thank you, Mike, for the impact you had on me and my love for sports and the media.

John Santamaria joins as a writer in March 2017. He is a graduate of New York Institute of Technology with an M.A. and B.F.A. in Communication Arts. John currently is a Technology teacher and prior to that was employed at MLB Advanced Media and CBS Sports Network. He also works as a Public Address Announcer for various colleges including his alma mater NYIT. John is a lifelong sports fan rooting for the Mets, Islanders, Jets, and Knicks.