New Canaanites Play Key Roles in ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ Documentary, Premiering Thursday on ESPN

New Canaan’s Ted Shaker two years ago set a professional goal that had eluded five or six producers before him: Get two of sports radio’s iconic personalities and former collaborators to participate in a documentary about their pasts, their immeasurably influential show, their complicated relationship and rather public “breakup.”

Starting around 1982—the year Shaker and his wife, Sheryl, moved to New Canaan—he had served as executive producer of “NFL Today” at CBS Sports and then the entire sports division, and in the course of his 19-year career there he hired a brilliant St. John’s University graduate named Mike Francesa, first as a researcher and then as a football and basketball analyst. In May 2015, Shaker traveled to Long Island to visit Francesa at his home there—the men had been in touch occasionally in the intervening years, such as at Jim Nantz’s California wedding in 2012—and after securing a ‘Yes’ to participate in the ESPN documentary film, returned home for a breakfast meeting at New Canaan Diner with an equally gifted though dramatically different kind of sports commentator—longtime New Canaan resident, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo. “He [Russo] in fact said somebody was talking to him about doing a documentary about them, some other guy, so I guess people had been around him, and I said, ‘Well, Mike [Francesa] said he was going to do it,’ and he was surprised by that,” Shaker recalled. “[Russo] said, ‘Let’s do it,’ though it’s funny—he was skeptical that it was going to happen.”

It did.