Skip to main content

Howard Stern Has No Clue What “First Take” Is, Gets Chris Russo to Reveal ESPN Salary

Also in Traina Thoughts: Keenan Thompson hosts NHL Awards show; announcer loses it over Ohtani home run; "Karate Kid" anniversary and more

1. As a die-hard Howard Stern fan, I’ve said a million times over the years that one of my favorite things about Howard is that he knows less than nothing about sports. This is a man who has chosen to play chess over watching the Super Bowl.

Stern’s total disinterest in sports always makes for amusing radio, and it did again on Wednesday when he had fellow SiriusXM host, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on his show.

As Stern does with most of his interviews, he managed to get his guest to reveal something they probably shouldn’t reveal. After Russo shared his joy about being a regular First Take panelist, Stern wanted to know what ESPN was paying Mad Dog. After light prodding, Russo revealed that ESPN is paying him $10,000 per episode and that he’s contracted to do his Wednesday hit on First Take for 40 weeks.

Russo must have blurted out the salary to show Stern that First Take is a big deal in the sports world because Howard had absolutely no clue what First Take was.

When Russo asked Stern whether he’s been following his weekly battles with Stephen A. Smith and his various viral moments, Stern was lost.

“Have you been paying attention to this First Take stuff on ESPN?” Russo asked.

“I don’t know anything about sports,” Stern replied.

A dumbfounded and disappointed Russo responded, “You’re not following that?”

“No, I’m not,” admitted Stern. “I didn’t know you were on TV, but good for you.”

Russo, clearly flustered by Stern being unfamiliar with First Take, went back to the topic later in the interview.

“How come you haven’t followed this First Take thing on ESPN?” an incredulous Russo asked.

This time Howard and Russo went back and forth for a few minutes about First Take, which featured some great quotes, including Stern saying, “I don’t know First Take from Second Take or Third Take.”

Watch ESPN with FuboTV: Try for free!

Stern also questioned the philosophy of having two high-strung hosts on First Take at the same time. “Why go on with another screamer?” asked Stern. “Let me ask you from a broadcasting standpoint. Gary [Dell’Abate] says you’re a screamer, this guy’s a screamer. Is it too much screaming? Don’t you need a calm, collected co-host much like Tom Francesa or whatever his name is?”

Russo then went on to joyfully tell a story about getting complimented for his First Take work at a Father’s Day barbecue. The entire thing was radio gold.

In addition to First Take, the interview covered a ton of other topics that made for great radio. Among the subject matter discussed: Howard still working from home because he’s afraid of COVID-19, whether or not the two are afraid of death, LIV golf, a possible Yankees-Mets World Series, whether heaven exists, the Radio Hall of Fame and much more.

Scroll to Continue

SI Recommends

2. Here is Keenan Thompson's monologue from the NHL Awards show that took place Tuesday night.

3. Normally, I love over-the-top calls by broadcasters, but for some reason, I just found this one, on Shohei Ohtani's game-tying three-run homer in the ninth inning last night just a tad much. It's a meaningless June game, not the playoffs.

4. Now that Gronk has retired again, we can only hope he goes back into TV so we can get more moments like this.

5. The Astros had some between-innings entertainment thing last night where a kid is given the chance to run on the field and “steal second base.” The base is set up in the outfield so the players can warm up on the field. However, the 6-year-old contestant wanted the real second base and this is what happened.

6. The latest SI Media Podcast features an interview with Paul “BizNasty” Bissonnette.

The media star talks about how he ended up getting the gig with TNT, what the television experience has been like for him and the challenges he faces doing a network television show while also doing a podcast for Barstool Sports at the same time.

Other topics discussed include Bissonnette’s intense feud with Rangers fans, which players he’d like to have on Spittin’ Chiclets, which celebrity would be his dream interview and why working for TNT has been one of the best experiences of his life.

Following Biz is the weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment with Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York. Jimmy and Sal discuss Adam Sandler’s new movie Hustle, the MLS–Apple TV+ deal and the pros and cons of summer. The segment finishes with Jimmy and analyzing recent Apple reviews for the SI Media Podcast.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on AppleSpotify and Google.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: On this date, June 22, 1984, The Karate Kid was released in theaters, and we were given one of the greatest musical montages in film history.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.