Mike Francesa WFAN
Asbury Park Press

Mike Francesa is off and running with his BetRivers podcast. But the big question remains: Is he ever going to take phone calls?

It does not sound like it is in the plans. At least at the moment.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a live element,” Francesa told Barrett Sports Media. “It’s been discussed. A couple of other companies had talked to me about doing something live once a week. I think these companies intend on moving in that direction where they are going to have some appointment radio that’s going to be live.”

Francesa has found a groove with his new venture. He is putting out a quality product several times a week. But there is still something missing.

Callers were the lifeblood of his WFAN program, first with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and then solo. They not only helped him craft each show’s direction; they played the foil in the post-Russo days. And the litany of legendary prank calls — dutifully documented for digital posterity by Funhouse — helped (and continue to help) keep Francesa relevant.

Francesa has been responding to reader emails at the end of each episode. And those do sometimes spark interesting audio, although they have tended to get repetitive — how many times must the man be asked for his thoughts on Aaron Judge’s pending free agency? But it’s just not the same.

Francesa mentioned two ideas for live shows to BSM: A weekly one-hour program around noon and a Sunday night show during the NFL season between the end of the 4 p.m. games and the start of the night game. If BetRivers is going for a national focus, that makes sense. If they want to double down on the tri-state area with Francesa, a Monday NFL postmortem show makes more sense.

Bottom line: Francesa and BetRivers need to make it work. He took calls on his app, after all. It’s possible.

James Kratch can be reached at james.kratch@xlmedia.com



James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.