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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Missanelli Out at WIP

With the apparent ouster of Mike Missanelli from 610 WIP, the vacuum of good midday sports talk has returned. Reportedly fired after his second physical altercation with a co-worker, including one with morning guy Angelo Cataldi, Missanelli was the only reason to tolerate midday sports talk. His firing offers a chance to review what sports fans are left with on the two sports talk stations in town.

While I was excited about WPEN 950 going to an all sports format in the fall, it’s done little to enliven things for fans. I enjoyed Tony Bruno for a while, and may hear his 9-to-noon airing more now with Missanelli gone. Bruno is funny and the show moved. A national perspective from a former Philly guy was a nice change of pace.

However, I eventually went back to WIP in the morning because I got sick of being sure to change the channel before Jim Rome came on. Even the first few minutes of his rehearsed, supposed-to-be intense monologues was too much to stomach. He spent weeks initiating Philadelphia fans to his “unique” style, assisted by well-trained and just-as-dull callers, as if we were pledging a frat. I wasn’t, and bailed quick. I occasionally return to confirm that he still sucks. The worst part was that WPEN actually axes Bruno’s last hour for Rome.

Jody MacDonald is still his solid self. He offers up good views on all the sports, and doesn’t just ignore struggling teams as if their too dull to discuss. He gets Philly very well, and is a great alternative. Unfortunately, his weak lead-in renders him just that — an alternative. (I admit, I’ve never heard the show that follows him.)

I may be a bit too high on WIP’s morning show right now, as Cataldi was recently away. When Al Morganti and Rhea Hughes are forced to carry the show, it improves dramatically. (Their previous practice of bringing in over night guy “Big Daddy” Graham when Cataldi took vacation was a horrible fit. His role as stand-up comic telling stories about the outskirts of showbiz and occasional sports talk is terrible.) Still funny, the show becomes sports oriented novel idea, eh? Years ago Cataldi changed to a more personal style that attracts too many cronies. When he talks sports — a too infrequent occurrence — he’s still one of the best.

I’ve recently discussed Anthony Gargano’s lack of skill as a sports talk guy. I won’t belabor the point, but the fact that he helps Hugh Douglas sound like a serviceable fill-in for Missanelli says it all. The former defensive end is not good, it just sounds ok because Gargano is so awful.

Howard Eskin is still one of the best, though his recent defense of the Eagles’ inactivity in free agency is hurting him. He’s still the only one on WIP who even attempts to be a reporter. Yet, if he continues to cozy up to the Birds, the self-proclaimed king will struggle to stay among the top talent.

I still don’t get why Glen Macnow is buried at night, unless he asked for the shift. He brings an even keel to most subjects, does some interesting, different things without distracting from sports, and knows his stuff. He’s probably the best sports talk show host on the air.

Finally, Missanelli, though apparently a hot head, is one of the better hosts I’ve heard. A bit too cocky and overly confident about his own talent-evaluating skills (he loves to hear himself say player X “can’t play”), his passion is real. He offers up some unique yet thought out opinions. He was the main, if not only, guy who said the Eagles needed to let Terrell Owens think he’d won their squabble without giving in to him. Few fans could bicker with that now.

Here’s hoping Missanelli lands at WPEN during the midday. He’d crush Gargano, and fill the void known as Jim Rome.

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