Two way talk on radio, no matter the format, didn’t emerge until the early ’60s.
In New York, the late Bill Mazer hosted the first such sports show in 1964. Bill would take calls and converse gently with young listeners in an avuncular tone. There were three network TV channels in most towns and a couple independents in the bigger ones. Back from school, our choices were watching reruns of Abbott & Costello, do homework or listen to Bill Mazer. That was it. I usually chose Mazer and my grades often reflected it.
With endless media options, talk shows today waft from everywhere like pot now does from Manhattan streets.
Today, I can listen to just about any talk show on SiriusXM. There’s the heady Colin Cowherd, the didactic Jim Rome and the creative Dan Le Batard. They’re all good in their own way.
In the afternoon, it’s Chris Russo. He’s a touch of home. Mad Dog was part of my routine on most days in my earlier iteration in New York. His rants then were hilarious and they still are today. They’re from the heart.
One of his favorite targets was the inanimate 59th Street Bridge, now named for New York’s esteemed late mayor, Ed Koch. If the bridge were to be sabotaged, the cops would be at Russo’s door in a heartbeat.
How you can get so angry at something of concrete and steel I don’t know but Chris did. See, to get to the WFAN studios where for years he teamed with Mike Francesa, it was impossible to avoid the darn thing. But for most of the busy New York day the bridge is impassable, a New York traffic nightmare.
When Russo split with Francesa after a long and profitable run, Mad Dog was bestowed with a national channel of his own at SiriusXM. Russo himself hosts afternoons and others fill the day’s schedule on the eponymous Mad Dog Sports Radio.
In his own inimitable way, Chris makes me smile here in South Florida 1,200 miles from his studio. When he gets serious, he often talk sports history. Personally, it’s a favorite topic. Russo is one of the few who doesn’t think sports were born yesterday.
If Russo talks a mile a minute, his mid-morning man almost sounds ponderous. When I first heard Adam Schein, I said to myself, this fellow’s cadence is so similar to longtime New York sports talkie, Steve Somers, a WFAN institution since day one, July 1, 1987. That’s when WFAN launched.
Somers is still there today. For years, he did overnights, which he called, “a journey to 5:30.” Schein grew up in New York, listening to both Somers and Russo.
Adam delivers his sports axioms in a deliberate cadence; vocal mannerisms that belie Russo’s. Chris speed-talks, spewing more words in five minutes than Schein does in an hour. Still, Schein isn’t afraid to opine, particularly about the NFL to which he pays lots of attention.
Hopping around the dying AM dial, PCs or mobile devices, talk show hosts today are indistinguishable. I couldn’t tell you half their names or anything memorable they’ve said. Schein brings style and substance. He’s heard weekdays from 10am-1pm on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio and he’s also seen on CBS Sports Network, weeknights from 6-7pm.
The 1999 Syracuse University alum has been with SiriusXM for 15 years. He got his start working in the shadows of SU at WHEN Radio. And his career was on a fast track when he landed shortly thereafter at WFAN.
On CBS Sports Network Time to Schein is filled with bold predictions which he sells to his audience by stabbing his index finger in the air or gesticulating animatedly to drive home his point. Recently, he predicted big things for the Browns and suggested that the Steelers will struggle. He went out on a limb, saying that QB Andy Dalton will have a career year and that Buffalo’s Sean McDermott will win Coach of the Year.
Is Schein any good? Well, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand who follows sports media assiduously reported a couple months ago that there were talks to have Schein succeed the Pope, WFAN’s Mike Francesa when he retires permanently.
In other words, Schein is good. And if you wouldn’t know any better you’d think you’re listening to a young Somers.
We learned more about the likable Schein in our interview.
You’re a Syracuse alum. Gun to your head! Give me the top five alumni of SU who’ve become sports announcers.
That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child! Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications is the best broadcast journalism school in the country bar none. WAER is the best student radio station for sports. I learned everything at WAER when I was in school. To answer your question, and I will go with sportscasters that I’ve heard, so that eliminates the iconic Marty Glickman. the list is Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Mike Tirico, Ian Eagle, and Sean McDonough in no order. They are the five megastars and faces of the Syracuse sportscaster alumni. But the list is so amazing. Dick Stockton and Len Berman. My good friend Andrew Catalon is a star for CBS. My good friend Cory Provus is great calling Twins baseball. I love watching Andrew Siciliano and Dave Pasch. My SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio colleague Nick Wright is amazing. The list goes on!
Like politics, sports are local. You’ve done and still do both local and national shows. How do you go about each? What are the differences in preparation between the two?
I love doing national sports radio and television. I love painting with a blank canvas and picking the best topics across the country that I am most passionate about that will translate with an audience. I love making the donuts, prepping a show. I love reading and diving deep and most especially watching the games and being prepared and the challenge of keeping a national audience engaged and entertained.
You do both television and radio. What are the challenges of each and which do you enjoy more?
I love them both! Am I allowed to say that? It’s true! Radio was my first love. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a radio monologue on SiriusXM setting the tone and table with strong, passionate, informed opinions and then interacting with amazing sports fans and doing interviews. My radio producer Bob Stewart is great and he lines up great guests and plans a show out well with sound, and we know how to adjust on the fly based upon news and the flow of the show. And I love that rush of doing a daily television show on CBS Sports Network. On radio you might do a single topic for 3 hours. For television that’s a rarity. You keep it moving differently in a solo, 7 block television show. Obviously you have to be on the same page in TV with the control room. The production meetings and omnipresent planning are very important. My TV producer Alison Cohen is simply phenomenal and we are seemingly planning 24 hours a day. And I love hosting NFL Monday QB and That Other Pregame Show on CBS Sports Network during the football season. In those forums it is my job to stimulate conversation and maximize the outstanding analysts I work with. I love my jobs and doing both a daily national radio and TV show.
At Sirius XM, you’re affiliated with Mad Dog Sports Radio. Did you listen to Chris Russo growing up in New York and what was it about him that has stuck with you through your career.
I was obsessed with Mike and the Mad Dog growing up. They changed my life. All I wanted to do was host a sports radio show! They were the sound track of my youth and shaped my life and goals. Chris’ passion, energy, hard hitting interviews, intelligence, humor… simply unmatched in the history of sports talk radio. He’s the greatest sports radio host of all-time.
Your cadence reminds me and others of Steve Somers on WFAN. You’ve likely heard the comparison before. If so, what is it about Somers that you like?
When I first hosted shows on WFAN in the summer of 2001, Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News gave me a really nice and much appreciated write-up of my shows and compared my style to Somers. That was the first I’ve heard it. And recently, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post wrote he hears a little of Mike, Chris, and Somers when he listens to me. I love that. I might put that on my tombstone! Steve is a mensch and was so nice to me when I first started at WFAN. I learned a lot from him; the art of the monologue and the amazing rapport with callers.
Through your twenty-year career, you’ve seemed to have a focus on football. Why?
The NFL is king. SiriusXM’s Steve Cohen made me his first hire in 2004 to launch SiriusXM NFL Radio. Game changer. I love talking football. It’s a true national sport.
You’re a football guy. Who are the two best NFL reporters on national television?
My guy Jason LaCanfora is excellent for us at CBS and I love having him on Time to Schein, NFL Monday QB, and That Other Pregame Show. Adam Schefter is the gold standard. Mort is a legend. Obviously, Jay Glazer is superb. And I love Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo at the NFL Network.
How has social media affected sports talk? Platforms like Twitter serve as outlets for fans to vent and rant. Has it cut down on the number of callers to radio?
I love Twitter. I love the interaction. I actually think that in my experience Twitter is a way for people to interact with shows without calling. I will also use Twitter as a trial balloon for takes and show promotion.
The big talkies nationally are Rome, who was first, Russo, Cowherd, Le Batard, Patrick and Eisen, to name a handful. How do you differentiate the styles of these guys and which of the national hosts do you like?
Obviously Chris Russo is the greatest talk show host ever as I mentioned before. After Chris, I think Stephen A. Smith And Colin Cowherd are the two best in the business. They bring it. They entertain.
You’re relatively young. Where do you see your career going from here? What’s the next step. Do you want to do more serious interviews or do you want to do play-by-play?
I absolutely love what I’m doing. I signed a new four year deal this spring with SiriusXM. I couldn’t be happier hosting Schein on Sports. I’ve been hosting at SiriusXM for 15 amazing years now. And I just love Time to Schein. It rocks. At both CBS and SiriusXM I love the people I work with, the people I work for, and the incredible platforms I’m on. I want to keep hosting these shows forever.