Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No More Mike and the Mad Dog - Sirius Gets More Branded Content

Mike and the Mad Dog, sports radio fixtures for nearly 19 years, have split up. When I first heard them, I was intrigued and captivated. Their chemistry was so entertaining, it made for great radio, whatever they were discussing or frankly arguing about. Not many duos have had that kind of appeal and energy. Most people have compared them to comedy teams like Martin and Lewis and Abbott and Costello. But for me, their chemistry and banter reminded me of Siskel and Ebert. Divergent opinions on everything! And great radio, too.

But like most teams, egos and personalities don't always mesh. This "marriage" lasted far longer then most expected. They may have initially disliked each other, but they also recognized the power their relationship caused in the media and the audience that grew. It made economic sense to put aside differences for the successes that would come. At the end of the day, pocketbooks matter more.

And for that same reason, Chris Russo has decided that he should make that next financial leap by going solo. And Sirius Radio agrees with him. Sirius's strategy, branded exclusive content, is to differentiate to make the decision to purchase their product a necessity. Can the Mad Dog deliver that same impact? Martin and Lewis broke up and each found individual fame; but Abbott and Costello could not. And when Gene Siskel passed away, their film critic show with Richard Roeper as co-host was never the same. That magic in the bottle was hard to replace.

So the jury is out on how Chris Russo will do as a solo sports talk personality. It's one thing to talk New York sports, but can he do it on a national basis. And will he need to find a partner to bounce off of? "The show will run every weekday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be the first original program to air on both Sirius and XM, which combined in July." For Sirius, his acquisition makes perfect sense. Exclusive content is the way to compete against free radio and the iPod. It seemed to work when Howard Stern was brought on board, and now it is Chris's turn. It may be sad to see Mike and the Mad Dog divorce, but it was inevitable.