Turns out they were lucky to get him.
“I wasn’t one of these guys who grew up with a tape recorder, wanting to be a play-by-play guy or wanting to be a broadcaster,” he said. “I was like a typical kid, you know, as a youngster I was a player.”
As that goal went by the wayside once he got older, Francesa set his sights on a more practical career path. He began studying athletic communications and playing baseball at the University of South Florida, but returned back north after a knee injury his first semester.
After deciding that he would not be returning to South Florida, Francesa enrolled at Hofstra. His time at school on Long Island, however, lasted even shorter than it did in Florida.
“I actually enrolled at Hofstra for a day, and then when I looked deeper into St. John’s, I actually asked Hofstra to release me, which they did,” he said. “I thought the St. John’s communications program fit me better than Hofstra did… So I actually went to Hofstra for one day.”
Now at his third college in just over one year, Francesa had finally found a home in Queens. He doubled-majored in Athletic Communications and Athletic Administration as one of the first St. John’s graduates of the Athletic Administration program.
The rest, as they say, is Non National Radio Hall Of Fame history.
Interestingly Francesa can't claim insider status at St. John's because if he said that he did ... he would be called out on it. (Legitimately. And he knows it.) Thus - no mention of that time the 'New' Big East Conference asked Francesa to assist its rebirth.
He did, however, have some advice for young broadcasters who might want his talk show job.
Who knows? Maybe the next Mike Francesa could be someone walking the halls of St. John’s right now, just as he did decades earlier. If that is the case, Francesa offered up some advice for anyone aspiring to one day be in his shoes.
“A lot of it’s right place, right time, there’s gonna be four or five times in life where you’re gonna come up against a decision or you’re gonna come up against a moment that’s gonna define your career,” he said. “And you gotta be fortunate enough to make the right decisions at those times.”
“You can’t fool the audience, they know what’s real and what’s fake, they know the difference. And they’re the ones that count; in essence, they are the ones who decide,” he said. “The best thing about what I do is, you get a report card, you get judged, you know if you’re doing a good job or not because your job is to get ratings...if you don’t get ratings, and you don’t provide revenue, you’re not gonna be there.”
Mike's right. As Sid Rosenberg pointed out 4 years ago - Francesa get's something wrong every day. Any ratings he has are because folks tune in to see a train wreck.
Even more interesting was 6 years ago Mike told prospective radio jocks to leave NY. “I always tell people who want to get into this business to go get out of town so you can put your own imprint on a show,” Francesa said. “You’ll have your own résumé, your own ratings, your own show ratings growth rather than just being a fill-in for people because then it’s just very subjective and you don’t have anything a program director can look at."
Just being a fill-in. Looking at you [insert WFAN summer time fill in host here.]
[The Torch: Francesa’s path to radio stardom began at SJU]
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