Interesting piece on Mike Francesa by Joe DePaolo of SB Nation Longform. DePaolo gets into the essense of the WFAN personality by describing his self confidence/arrogance.
This is a frequent criticism of Francesa – his aggressive treatment of callers. The critics say he talks down to callers and belittles them. To a certain extent, Francesa will plead guilty as charged. His every utterance on the air is governed by his unshakable belief that he knows more about sports than his audience.
“I don’t believe this idea that everyone knows as much as I do,” Francesa says. “If I go to the doctor’s office, I don’t think I know as much as the doctor. He’s spent his life learning his trade. If I go to my accountant, I don’t know as much about the tax laws as he does. I’d better not.”
Then there’s this passage:
Until you prove yourself, you get long, meandering answers. The man often repeats himself – a habit, one would assume, attributable to the fact that he must fill five-and-a-half hours of airtime daily. He doesn’t trust you to talk. Why should he? You simply aren’t as good at it as he is. So he’ll do it himself, thank you.
“I don’t lack confidence. I admit that. I know I’m good at this. If I don’t think I’m good at this, why would anyone else think I’m good at it?”
As for the sleeping on the air episode, Francesa says it didn’t happen:
“Honestly, I don’t think I had fallen asleep on the air. And I still don’t think I fell asleep on the air. I actually know I wasn’t asleep. I know what the video looks like, but if you listen to it on the radio, no one got anything out of it because I didn’t miss a question. I didn’t miss a beat in the interview. I was clearly nodding off, but I was listening to Sweeny the whole time. So I was still there. I was still conscious. That’s why, to me, I never really thought like it happened. I know what the video looks like. But I was still awake, even though it looks like I was asleep.”
The video of the episode went viral, giving Francesa, 58, yet another reason to sound off the new age of media.
If there is a media outlet that attracts more of Francesa’s vitriol than YouTube, it is Twitter. Francesa believes Twitter is the enemy of reason and pragmatism. The kind of extreme, profane opinions that are commonplace on Twitter are nowhere to be found on Francesa’s show. He is the rare sports talker whose takes are measured. He cautions that the potential ramifications for those who participate in these heated, nasty conversations on the social networking site are enormous – particularly if they are public figures.
“I did a very controversial rant on Twitter one day, and warned people about Twitter. I said, ‘It’s gonna get players in hot water. It’s gonna get broadcasters fired. It’s gonna get public people sued. It’s gonna cost people their jobs.’
“And we’ve already seen that since I said it,” Francesa added, referring to Exhibit A in his case against Twitter, Scott Torgerson, a Columbus, Ohio, based talk show host. After tweeting that he wished Desmond Howard, a host of ESPN’s College Gameday, “would get fired or die so I could watch Gameday again,” Torgerson was fired.
If you’re interested in Francesa, it’s a good read.