"We Tried to Get There" - Harry Mayes on His 97.5 the Fanatic Departure
If you listened to this morning’s Crossing Broadcast featuring Harry Mayes, thanks.
It was good, wasn’t it? I mean, I can say that right since I wasn’t on it? I’m not trying to blow sunshine up anybody’s butt here, I just found it to be interesting and fresh and relatively unfiltered, with Harry explaining his departure from 97.5 the Fanatic and sharing some unique behind-the-scenes information about the station and radio in general.
Definitely listen to it if you have 30 minutes of free time, or if you’re stuck on the Schuylkill Expressway driving home today, or if you’re stuck on I-95 northbound at the construction zone. If you can’t, I thought it would be a good idea to transcribe some of the most relevant quotes and write out pieces of the interview right here in this space.
As far leaving the station, Mayes, a 13 year veteran and the longest tenured host at 97.5, confirmed that he was offered a gig on the morning show but ultimately did not take it because of the money.
“I just wasn’t comfortable with what I was going to be asked to do for the amount of money, and I just said, ‘I can’t do it,’ and that’s why we’re here today,” Mayes explained.
Kyles suggested that Harry would be a good morning show host, to which Mayes agreed, pointing out that he wasn’t against the idea of changing shifts, but noting that it would be a huge lifestyle and schedule change for both he and his wife.
“It came down late last week that (management) was going to be making a change to the midday show, and I didn’t know that our show was going to be touched,” he continued. I thought they were going to do something new with the mornings and I didn’t know that it had to do anything with my show, but they said, ‘we’d like you to go to the mornings’ and be like the update guy and the 2nd voice, 3rd voice, whatever you wanna say, on the morning show. And I was like, ‘okay, let’s talk about it.’ I was interested in that. Who wouldn’t want to be on a morning show?
“When it was presented, the financial situation just was not tenable. These guys that do morning shows, a lot of people don’t understand how hard they work and how early in the morning they get up and how much their schedule is impacted. You’re getting up at 3 a.m., some guys even earlier, and they’re going to bed at seven o’clock at night and their whole life is transformed. My wife’s life would have been transformed, and I was like, you know, ‘I’m gonna need X amount (of dollars) to do that.’ We tried to get there, they would not guarantee that, and so I couldn’t do it. It was like, ‘I need this, I told you this on Thursday and Friday and we got to Monday and it still didn’t happen,’ so we agreed to part ways with no hard feelings. But I would love to be on a morning show. There were certain things that needed to happen for that to take place, and that was not presented.”
Mayes went on to explain that he treated the midday show as a morning show, if that makes sense. If you listened to his shows with Tony Bruno or Rob Ellis or Jason Myrtetus, they were certainly more relaxed and less stiff, a little more lighthearted and “loose” like a Preston and Steve type of vibe. He says he learned a lot during middays and felt like doing a morning show with Bruno would have been successful, maybe even as a competitor for Angelo Cataldi at 94 WIP after 97.5 decided to do away with their national syndication and install a local program instead.
“For some reason it broke down and never happened, but I felt like that would have been a great morning show,” said Mayes of possibly working with Bruno from 6 to 10 a.m. ”
Apparently Harry has worked with more than 40 hosts, by his count, which doesn’t surprise me. He’d been on 97.5 for something like 10 years and came over from 950 AM before the Fanatic even existed, so he’s been around the block.
Mayes also admitted that he was focused on just doing “good radio” and not necessarily good sports radio, suggesting that he wasn’t 100% interested in talking about the same sports topics over and over again.
“We were many times told, ‘let’s get it back to the Eagles,’ and that became a running joke when I was with Rob Ellis,” said Mayes. “We had sound bites that we’d play for that. Like if we ever sort of got off the beaten path for too long, there might have been a phone call made to the producer (from management), saying, you know, ‘what are they doing here? Let’s get back on track.’ They don’t like things getting off the rails. I actually think the show is best when it’s getting off the rails, unless there is a real, serious good topic to discuss. I think that’s when I was at my best, and I think a lot of times I felt maybe hamstrung by that.”
Mayes says this idea of staying on track had been a thing “going back for years.” It was not specific to Program Director Eric Johnson or longtime former PD Matt Nahigian, who left the station last year.
Harry also revealed that he did not particularly enjoy doing shows with a heavy focus on social or political issues (the NFL’s national anthem controversy as an example). Those shows would bring out extremes on both sides of the argument, and sometimes, though rarely, he said he was encouraged to take a side on an issue when that wasn’t really his way of doing radio.
“The 90% Eagles onslaught at times got tiring for us as well,” he added. “We were thinking of ways to sprinkle in other topics or do different things and sort of set ourselves apart. But, working with somebody who you have great chemistry with, you don’t have to go to those lengths. It just sort of happens. That’s what I started to realize when I worked with Tony, when I worked with Rob and Jason, too. We had great chemistry, and that’s what I enjoyed about it, where we could sort of, 10 o’ clock comes around, the light comes on, and we might not have something big and heavy to get into, but ten after ten we’re into a good discussion. That’s what I felt was really good and authentic about the shows I’ve been on.”
What’s next for Mayes?
He’s not sure, but didn’t sound too keen on jumping back into sports radio, at least not right away.
“I’m really not interested in doing just, ‘hey the Eagles need a new cornerback, Jalen Mills sucks, 610-632..’ I’m kind of bored with that, to be honest with you.”
Mayes said he doesn’t expect to have anything lined up anytime soon, noting that we’re in the middle of the NFL season and that most shifts are filled and most contracts are signed. He’ll appear tonight on Tony Bruno’s podcast and you can listen to him with Kyle and Russ below: