Chris Russo reveals hefty ‘First Take’ paycheck to Howard Stern

Chris Russo does just fine financially.

The Mad Dog had an appearance with Howard Stern on SiriusXM Wednesday morning, and revealed that his deal to debate Stephen A. Smith on Wednesdays on “First Take” is for $10,000 an episode — and 40 dates.

Consider that this is Russo’s third job. He also hosts afternoon drive on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio, the station that was built for him when he left Mike Francesa and WFAN in 2008, and hosts “High Heat” on MLB Network.

And yet, one could argue that Russo should be in line for a big raise from ESPN when this deal expires.

Mad Dog’s hump-day appearances give a shot in the arm to Smith and “First Take” — when last weekend’s buffet of live sports has been picked to the bone and it’s still a little early to preview next weekend — and they generate buzz that percolates from ESPN’s airwaves onto the internet.

Chris Russo on “First Take” on June 22, 2022.
First Take/Twitter
Howard Stern had no idea what 'First Take' is, nor that Chris Russo appears on it weekly.
Howard Stern had no idea what ‘First Take’ is, nor that Chris Russo appears on it weekly.
Getty Images

Hardly a week goes by where there is not headlines about Mad Dog barking at Smith over something inconsequential to the world at-large — but vital to Russo’s serious evaluations of the sports universe.

And yet, Stern pled ignorance when it came to Russo’s appearances on ESPN.

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

Stern asked for clarification.

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

Chris Russo revealed that he makes $10k per episode on his weekly 'First Take' appearances.
Chris Russo (right) revealed to Howard Stern that he makes $10k per episode on his weekly ‘First Take’ appearances.
Getty Images for SiriusXM

Russo was incredulous.

“It’s a sports show, I’m on there once a week. 10-12! It’s fun! We laugh! We fool around. We talk sports. We talk all these topics. You’re not following that?” Russo said.

Stern continued to have no idea what Russo was talking about.

“No, I’m not, I didn’t know you were on TV, but good for you — maybe that will help you get into the Radio Hall of Fame.”

Stern continued to say that he doesn’t know what the show is: “I don’t know ‘First Take,’ Second Take, Third Take …”.

Not only that, Stern did not seem to even know who Stephen A. Smith was, and required an explanation about him from a producer. Stern then wanted to know why Russo would go on with another screamer: “Isn’t that too much screaming?”

Russo then pointed out that he was at a recent graduation party and approached by two college athletes in their twenties — a pitcher at Fordham, and a lacrosse player at Penn — who told him they watch his appearances weekly.

Russo has been going on with Howard Stern for a very long time, but clearly Stern has just been following the Mad Dog’s radio exploits.