Radio Row’s evolution amazes Francesa, Rome

INDIANAPOLIS — We know Radio Row as the center of the broadcasting universe during Super Bowl week … but it wasn’t always that way.

New York radio stalwart Mike Francesa told me earlier this week there was no such thing as Radio Row when the “Mike and the Mad Dog” show traveled to New

Jim Rome's set sticks out on Radio Row. (Alix Drawec/NFL)

Orleans for Super Bowl XXIV in 1990. It remained a foreign concept when Francesa and former partner Chris Russo showed up the next year for Super Bowl XXV between the Giants and Bills.

“Sometime around the mid-90s, it really exploded,” Francesa said, “where all of sudden, you looked up and there was like 30 stations there.”

Another longtime Radio Row presence is Jim Rome, whose stage for “The Jim Rome Show” could rival what Madonna uses at halftime Sunday.

“There are markets now where there are four sports stations in the market, so the thing is just enormous,” Rome said. “It gets bigger and louder and freakier and more obnoxious every year, and it’s awesome.”

Classic Rome. I had to ask him why his stage is so unnecessarily enormous.

“Twenty years in, I figured maybe I’d upgrade my digs a little bit,” he said. “I’ve been kind of hood-like the last couple of years, so that was kind of by design.”

Francesa points out the changes have gone beyond the number of radio stations.

“I can’t even imagine what the technology will be like in 10 years,” he said. “I’ll come back after I’m retired and walk down here and probably won’t even recognize what it looks like.”

Of course, Francesa will never retire. Let’s check back with him in 2022.

— Dan Hanzus

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