Thank you, Tony Bruno
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Wednesday was a somber day for the sports radio industry in Philadelphia. Tony Bruno, a personality whose career took him from local prominence at WIP to the lofty peaks of national outlets ESPN and Fox Sports Radio, has decided to hang up his headphones and step away from the microphone. Although Bruno has maintained that he will continue to release podcasts on his personal website, it appears that the radio host’s time on the FM dial has come to an end. According to Bruno:
After 45 years of pursuing my dreams and goal of radio and climbing the sport radio stairs to the highest rungs, the format and industry in general no longer provide me joy and satisfaction, even after reaching number 1 in pm drive in record time in my hometown.
I decided to resign from WIP and from regular long-form terrestrial radio as a result and will pursue my podcasts and other things to keep me occupied and happy.
For the past five years, I have been an avid fan of Tony’s shows as he brought his special brand of “intensity and alacrity” to the Fanatic and, later, WIP. His voice stood out amidst the inane babble that tends to dominate the format. In a sea of hot takes issued by brand-building loudmouths who mistake outrage for critical thought, Tony’s program was an island of lightheartedness that offered a comical approach to sports. Unlike some of his self-satisfied colleagues and competitors, Tony never took himself or the material too seriously. Sports, after all, are meant to serve as a diversion from the frequently frustrating and occasionally ulcer-inducing realities of life. There’s no need to add to one’s stress level because the Eagles quarterback situation is unsettled or because the Phillies resemble a mediocre Triple-A team. Better to laugh about it. In the grand scheme of things, this stuff really is not all that important. And, frankly, the opinions and analysis offered each day by sports radio hosts and “experts” are as evanescent as an ice cube on a hot summer’s day. It’s all just noise that will be replaced by different noise tomorrow. Tony seemed to grasp these truths better than most, which freed him to focus on entertaining his listeners rather than trying to outsmart them.
I’ll miss Tony’s “stone cold, lead pipe guaranteed locks” and the “Mr. Monday Night” football picks (offered for amusement purposes only, of course). I’ll also miss the 12 Days of Bruno and the hilarious, well-deployed clips from Tony’s soundboard (i.e. Christian Bale’s “What don’t you f#%&ing understand!” and Brad Pitt’s “What’s in the box?” line from Se7en). Furthermore, I’ll miss the goofy tangents (like the time when Tony, a bald white guy, started waxing about hair care products for black men) and the allusions to long-forgotten incidents in Philadelphia sports history. I’ll miss the special chemistry Tony developed with Harry Mayes during their 10-to-noon show on the Fanatic. Finally, I’ll miss turning on sports talk radio and experiencing original, funny content.
However, life goes on. Thank you, Tony, for making the workday feel a little less interminable and a little less dull. Sports radio in Philadelphia won’t be the same without you. Here’s hoping retirement agrees with you. Now, in the words of Harry Mayes, “Get out! Get out!”