The RADIO WARS reached its exciting climax last week. This is the war that has been foretold, as Jim described it on our podcast. Indeed it is. But “Dwayne From Swedesboro” strolling out of 97.5’s studios and, like Keyser Soze, slowly morphing into Pat Egan, while we flash back to Josh Innes burning in the boat fire, only concludes chapter one. Sure, we fade to black as Egan gets into the awaiting car driven by Matt Nahigian and Jason Myrtetus, but there is more to come. Innes is dead. Mike Missanelli is back on top. Who shall come for him next? What about the looming end of an era on WIP Mornings? There is much still to be decided. How did we get here?
Before we get into it, we must set the scene. Here’s a brief video introduction. I implore you to watch it because I spent a lot of time on it:
Our journey begins.
December, 2013: Glen Macnow leaves his WIP show with Anthony Gargano, mid-show, amid an apparent contract dispute. Glen’s contract was up at the end of the year. He posts a message to his followers on Facebook telling them he’s taking some time off until things can be worked out. We report that Rob Ellis will likely replace Macnow, and that Macnow will likely take on a weekend and part-time role, similar to Howard Eskin.
January, 2014: Former WIP Operations Manager Andy Bloom freaks the fuck out during a live remote broadcast from Chickie’s and Pete’s Play 2 when he discovers that 97.5’s Jon Marks is also appearing at the restaurant as part of a Greater Media promotion. At one point, Chickie’s and Pete’s staff moves Marks’ promotional photos to the back of the restaurant to appease Bloom. But Bloom, acting irrationally, orders Gargano and Ellis, now his partner, back to the WIP studio.
June, 2014: 97.5 sends us a terse statement in an effort to get out ahead of news that Tony Bruno is leaving the station. Insiders say Bruno attempted to use accrued vacation time while his agent hammered out a new contract with 97.5. The station didn’t see it that way and essentially fired Bruno for breach of contract, avoiding having to pay his 90-day severance had he been fired. We speculate that WIP could have interest in Bruno.
July, 2014: A tipster tells us that Bruno and his girlfriend, Miss Robin, had dinner at Del Frisco’s with Bloom. They are believed to have discussed the possibility of Bruno joining WIP.
October, 2014: Josh Innes, doing evenings at WIP, mauls Mike Missanelli in an on-air rant after Missanelli apparently mocks Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz after he got hurt in a game against the Eagles. Somewhat ironically, Innes’ rant includes fake racist and homophobic Tweets that Missanelli might have sent after famous events in history:
The next day, Innes refers to Missanelli as “Bitchanelli.” Missanelli and his producer, Jason Myrtetus, dismiss Innes using the lyric “someone you don’t know” from Airborne Toxic Event’s Sometime Around Midnight upon returning from a break. Later that day, in his Philly Mag column, Missanelli addresses the criticism of his Cruz Tweet and calls CSN and WIP host Michael Barkann a “marginally talented circus barker who couldn’t exist without a teleprompter.”
November, 2014: Innes again goes after Missanelli, but this time claims he could beat Missanelli if he were up against him head-to-head. Through his criticism of Missanelli, Innes takes a thinly-veiled shot at his colleagues Gargano and Ellis, implying that they are no match for Missanelli. This marks the first time tensions between the two stations have led to internal strife. Winter is coming.
December, 2014: Howard Eskin, attempting to stay relevant, calls Missanelli a “psycho.” Angelo Cataldi’s contract is renewed for three years, securing the WIP morning time slot through 2017. Meanwhile, Gargano’s contract with WIP is up at the end of the year and we report that Bloom may tap Innes as his replacement in the afternoon and that Gargano may be in talks with 97.5. A few days later, Gargano is not on the air and we report that it is contract-related. Three days later, Gargano announces he is leaving WIP and we report that he has a three-month non-compete clause and could go to 97.5 when it’s up in the spring. On New Year’s Eve, Bruno shows up (and then is removed!) from WIP’s upcoming weekly schedule. His partner for the holiday week? Josh Innes.
January, 2015: Innes, after hosting a show with Bruno, tweets: “Huge thanks to Tony Bruno. Today was a hit show. If this works out Bitchanelli is done.” Meanwhile, Ellis – Switzerland – who is caught in the middle of this mess, is forced to co-host with Innes in what appears to be a tryout to save his job, when it’s clear that Innes, the heir apparent to Gargano, favors Bruno as a co-host. Things get weird when Innes closes the show with a monologue acknowledging the awkwardness and uncertainty. A few weeks later, we report that Bruno, who is in Arizona for the Super Bowl, will in fact be named Innes’ co-host and an announcement will be made during or after Wing Bowl, and that Gargano could host a 97.5 morning show, but that he likely won’t show up on their air until early April. Two days later, during Wing Bowl, WIP announces the new show with the following promo:
Following the announcement, we report that the new show will start the following Wednesday because Bruno plans to remain in Arizona for two days after the Super Bowl, and that WIP will concoct a fake controversy about why they’re not starting on Monday.
February, 2015: Missanelli takes aim at his new competition, calling them a “clown show“:
Bruno responds on Twitter by calling Missanelli a “troubled dude.” Innes again calls him “Bitchanelli.” The new duo continues to make fun of Missanelli on their show and they confirm that Bloom created a fake suspension for Innes to explain the mid-week start.
Later in the month, Bruno and Innes have me on their show to discuss a separate topic. Innes bombards me about RADIO WARS reporting and summons Bloom, who gets on the air and calls me a “fraud” and an “a-hole.” It’s followed up by a phone call in which we screamed at each other for five minutes.
March, 2015: Ellis announces that he’s leaving WIP. We report that he’ll host a new show on the Comcast Network called Breakfast On Broad alongside Jillian Mele, and that, after his 90-day non-compete clause is up, he may also head over to 97.5, where he could join Gargano, who may host a new local morning show for them. If you haven’t noticed by now, we are very, very good. Later in the month, Bruno and Innes secure a ratings victory over Missanelli, beating him in the all-important men 25-54 demographic. They celebrate by sending an errand boy to bring Missanelli dead roses. Missanelli calls security.
After the first break, Missanelli returns with nary a mention about what just transpired. A day later, Sean Brace is let go by 97.5. A day later, we report that Nick Kayal is leaving 97.5 for Sirius. Three days later, Gargano co-hosts with Missanelli, and I speculate that he may host a morning or mid-day show on 97.5, perhaps with Jon Marks or Harry Mayes. A week later, we report that Gargano and Marks will co-host a morning show with little-known Maureen Williams, with whom Gargano is widely rumored to have some sort of relations. Meanwhile, Bruno and Innes again beat Missanelli in the ratings.
May, 2015: Missanelli tells Eskin he has “half a brain.” Bruno and Innes crush Missanelli in the ratings. Things are getting interesting, as Missanelli has a genuine fight on his hands, even as he piles on poor, old Eskin.
June, 2015: Innes race-baits callers over something Chip Kelly said, purporting to find it racist, but in doing so perhaps going too far and saying things that are, in fact, racist. Meanwhile, Ellis hosts on 97.5 and we report that it could become a permanent thing. Innes calls Missanelli a “pussy” after Missanelli responds to a Goodfellas reference and implies that Innes would wind up dead. Missanelli threatens Innes. Bruno and Innes again beat Missanelli in the ratings. Things go nuclear as Missanelli addresses his defeats head-on, calling Innes a Howard Stern wannabe and being completely dismissive of Bruno, who responds by calling Missanelli a “multi-time failure in Philly and NYC,” while Innes calls Missanelli a “lazy bastard.” Howard Eskin tweets that Missanelli is pathetic and insecure. Missanelli responds by calling Bruno a “rat,” excoriating him for the way he handled his departure at 97.5.
He then claims that Gargano had confronted Innes during his time at WIP and says that Innes almost peed himself. A day later, we provide further details about the confrontation between Gargano and Innes. A week later, Ellis announces a regular role on 97.5 in which he’ll be co-hosting with Mayes from 10-2.
July, 2015: We report that the Bruno and Innes pairing may be doomed because Bruno is turned off by Innes’ antics. A day later, we report that Bruno is most likely done with the show. Innes has an on-air meltdown about the ordeal, seemingly berating his update host:
Innes leaves the air, and then returns to talk about Bruno’s departure. He’s joined by Bloom, who reads an email Bruno sent. Bruno declines to call in. Bloom denies our initial report about discord. I call him a “snake” and then lay out the full story. Later that month, CBS Philly radio head Marc Rayfield gets promoted to New York and we wonder what this will mean for Bloom, whom Rayfield seemingly protected. David Yadgaroff is named Rayfield’s replacement, and we speculate that this could be bad news for Bloom and that Spike Eskin might both co-host with Innes and take over as program director. To end the month, Kayal does a heel turn and appears on WIP with Innes as the station is trying out co-hosts, and he promptly lights his local radio career on fire, throwing Missanelli under the bus in an attempt to win Innes’ support:
August, 2015: We report that WIP will announce an afternoon show of Innes, Spike Eskin and Hollis Thomas. A week later, Innes confronts Missanelli at an Eagles practice and all hell breaks loose. Missanelli addresses it on-air and of course compares Innes to a Sopranos character. Later that day, Missanelli’s brother, a gynecologist, calls Innes and threatens to fight him:
December, 2015: We report that Bloom has been fired by CBS.
January, 2016: Spike Eskin is named as Bloom’s replacement, and Marc Farzetta is named as Eskin’s replacement on the show. Missanelli has regained control of his ratings lead. Innes is suspended for calling Jason Kelce a “house negro.” He apologized:
July, 2016: Greater Media gets sold to Beasley.
August, 2016: We report that 97.5 caller Dwayne From Swedesboro is actually 97.5 producer Pat Egan. Missanelli addresses the situation on-air:
Innes goes completely overboard and gets unintentionally racist in his attempts to bury his competition. A day later, we report that Innes has been fired for his actions, at this point becoming the only person to suffer a consequence following 97.5’s controversial stunt. Former 97.5 intern Alex Reardon comes out of the woodwork to claim sexism at 97.5. Meanwhile, on his podcast, Bruno calls Missanelli an “unmitigated douchebag.” The next day, we report that Black Lives Matter has a meeting scheduled with 97.5’s program director, Matt Nahigian. Later that day, Nahigian, Egan and Myrtetus are suspended for three days.
So here we are. Innes entered the fray, with the support of Bloom, and over the course of two years helped usher both Gargano and Ellis off WIP and over to 97.5. He drove Bruno off the air. He pressed Missanelli to the point that the two almost came to blows, forcing Missanelli’s brother to call Innes and threaten him. Bloom was ultimately fired by CBS, leaving Spike Eskin to deal with the fallout. As Missanelli’s lead increased, it was Dwayne From Swedesboro, a fake 97.5 caller, that ultimately killed Innes. And it was Eskin, the King’s son, who stood over his dead body. He’s the one left holding the keys. He’ll name a successor to take on a wounded, but still-on-top Missanelli in an attempt to reclaim what his family views as rightfully their own– the King’s throne. MUSIC THE CREDITS: