Friday, March 21, 2008
By John McMullen
Philadelphia, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The bloodletting is over and on the surface, some of Greater Media's moves to save WPEN are encouraging.
The station jettisoned the radio-challenged Glenn Foley and the embarrassing Jamie Yannacone, moved Jody Mac to middays where he belongs, and brought back the one guy with the testicular fortitude (Mike Missanelli) to call Howard Eskin exactly what he is on the air -- a fraud.
Problem is, Jody and Mikey Miss are already behind the eight-ball. The new ESPN 950 is airing syndicated shows like Mike and Mike in the morning and Mike Tirico from 1 pm to 3 pm.
Anyone who has been here for five minutes can figure out Philadelphia fans are pretty provincial.
Hockey season is over when the Flyers skate for the last time.
Hoops are done when Andre Iguodala's final forced shot clangs off the iron.
The suns sets on baseball when Ryan Howard fans for the 199th time, and football rests in peace after Big Red clears his throat to tell you the Eagles are this (picture thumb and index finger an inch apart) close.
This town simply doesn't care about other teams and other cities.
So when Greater Media made the leap and announced WPEN was becoming an ESPN affiliate earlier this week, they may have well just raised a white flag.
The war with WIP is over.
OK...it really was never a war. There are two camps in the radio world -- the haves and the have nots and its pretty easy to see which camp SR950 was in.
The station had a chance to dent the 500-pound gorilla in the room (WIP) but they have always lacked leadership at the top. Station manger Bob DeBlois has gone from Jason Barrett to Gregg Henson to Matt Nahigian, the three stooges of broadcast journalism.
Radio is not rocket science. Like any other business you have to spend money to make money but that was never in the SR950 playbook. Forget about hiring six-figure guys, SR950 never had the duckets to hire a $15 dollar an hour overnight guy to battle Paul Jolovich.
It was clear from the start that the people in charge in Bala Cynwyd had no imagination, no insight, no vision and worst of all no plan.
The morning show was atrocious...Michael Bradley is fine as a radio personality but beyond ridiculous as the amped up morning guy while Foley, although possessing an NFL pedigree and a Cherry Hill native, just didn't have it.
An amateur (Yannacone) that was hired by Nahigian's predecessors in a contest as a gimmick was cluttering the midday show.
The hackneyed Jody Mac was practicing cliche radio against "The King" (Marconi invented radio in the early 1900s and Jody was doing the "Do Me a Favor" segment an hour later).
And, something called Geoff Harbaugh was trying way too hard to sound relevant at night.
Simply put, the lineup was a clusterfuck of bad radio.
And yet, people all over the Delaware Valley were still tuning in and chipping away at WIP's audience.
Consider this...A couple of years ago, I wrote a column that included some of the things I "learned" by listening to Philadelphia's "top sports station:"
-The good-old USA has 11 billion illegal immigrants entering it every year. (This despite the fact there is, at last check, about seven billion people on the planet).
-Vince Young did very poorly in the "Wonderlink" test. (That may seem like a small mistake if it wasn't repeated a dozen or so times by a certain wannabe "King.")
-Rickey Henderson was a heck of a switch-hitter in his day. (An excellent point considering Ricky was one of the best....But, the fact he hits exclusively from the right side probably should have disqualified him.)
-That Gavin Floyd will be "the fifth in the rotation starting." for the Phillies. (That's an homage to a certain Yoda-ically challenged late night update hostess).
-The Cowboys "are stupid" since they didn't trade their seventh round pick to the Eagles to get T.O. under the terms of his old contract. (Maybe I'm dense but isn't that contract the reason T.O. was pissed off in the first place?).
And believe me, at WIP nothing changes. The same people that made those errors are still polluting the airwaves and making the same kind of mistakes.
So while many of us dream of a local sports world with no more "Chief"...No more "Cuz"...No more "Big Daddy," the door remains open.
Unfortunately, SR950 isn't going through it.
-You can reach John McMullen at email@example.com