I totally missed this on Tuesday, but Flyers fans didn’t seem happy with Mike Missanelli. I saw some Twitter arguments and some scraps and scuffles here and there, but was not initially aware of the source.
They weren’t happy with Mike because he began his show by basically dismissing the Flyers’ eight-game winning streak before going on to explain why your team, your town, your Orange and Black aren’t worth talking about on 97.5 the Fanatic.
Mike opened Tuesday’s show with a primer, and said this, in part:
“Flyers fans do not understand why they are always put at the bottom of the pecking order, and they have a legitimate question. And only the people in this business can answer the question. And we’re going to try to answer that question today. The Flyers have won eight in a row and the kid saved 40 shots (Monday) night, right? 41. They beat the Canucks. I watched a lot of the game and the kid stood tall. Now, here’s the thing we are told in radio – play the hits. Right? We’re told to play the hits. People who play music, they have to play the songs that their audience likes most, because if they’re not playing those songs, they’ll switch the station. It’s the same thing with sports talk subjects. We have to try to figure out what is most interesting to the majority of the fan base to talk about…”
Here’s my theory; there are more natural basketball fans in this city than there are hockey fans, which leaves hockey, unfortunately, at the bottom of the pecking order, and when you’re talking about playing the hits, you gotta play the ones atop the pecking order. The Eagles are always atop the pecking order. We’ll talk about the Eagles today, the Wentz/Foles situation and how he answered this Philly Voice report. Then you go to the Sixers, the Sixers have taken over the #2 slot because they’re a good team, and that makes them talkable. The process was talkable in that they were pursuing these better players to build a foundation and get better. And so Flyers fans do have a legitimate beef… the fact of the matter is that there are just more basketball fans here than there are hockey fans.
Some thoughts, in no real order, after the jump:
- We all know the ice hockey demographic is more suburban and more Caucasian than the basketball demographic. I don’t have numbers in front of me that explain how many people like basketball vs. hockey in Philadelphia, but national polls consistently have the NBA way out in front of the NHL.
- The Sixers’ Process was interesting from a talk radio perspective because it was controversial and intriguing. It was new and different, and it caused a generational rift that resulted in some passionate arguments both for and against. It was perfect for sports talk radio.
- The Flyers have just been sort of half-rebuilding and half-not-rebuilding. They have some great young players, but their rebuild was more traditional and less interesting than the Sixers.
- The Eagles are #1 and always will be #1. The Phillies took over briefly from 2008 to 2012 or so, then Chip Kelly came in and the Phils fell off, giving the top spot back to the Eagles. We are all the Eagles’ bitch, whether we accept it or not.
- The radio stations barely talk about baseball these days, so it’s not like Flyers fans are in some exclusive diss club. And when they do talk about baseball, it’s never about specifics, it’s macro topics like, “is the game too slow?” and “is Gabe Kapler a Philly guy?” Furthermore, try being a local soccer fan. We are barely even a blip on the radar.
- Yes, radio stations always have to play the hits. 93.3 WMMR has been playing the same shit for 20 years now. It’s Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, a work force block of whatever the hell Pierre Robert wants to play, and that Jane’s Addiction song that I swear is only heard in Philadelphia.
- Every media outlet I’ve ever worked for, the Eagles pay the bills. Eagles stories are #1 on Crossing Broad, they were #1 at Philly Voice, and they were #1 at CBS Philly. Traffic generated by other teams is not even close.
- It’s kind of ridiculous how Mike talks so much shit about the Flyers on the FLYERS OFFICIAL RADIO STATION. If I was a Flyers executive, I’d be super pissed and get on the phone daily with Eric Johnson. But – where are they going to go, WIP? They can’t go to WIP, because WIP already has the Phillies and Eagles, and WIP probably doesn’t want them anyway. The Flyers are stuck in a radio deal where the #1 show is led by a guy who doesn’t even like hockey. At least Martinez fights for their honor.
The problem is this, and Russ and I discussed this on the most recent podcast, but it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Flyers fans don’t listen to the radio because they know WIP and 97.5 aren’t going to talk about hockey. Then the radio stations say, “well no one ever calls in to talk about hockey.”
Yes, no shit. The reason no one calls in is because they’ve already tuned out, because they know that sports radio is going to be 95% Eagles talk over and over again. It’s a circular exercise, like the mythological snake that eats its own tail.
But when media outlets automatically gear 95% of their coverage to the Eagles, they are missing out on the COLLECTIVE WHOLE of baseball, hockey, basketball, and even soccer fans in Philadelphia, which I personally believe matches the size of a strictly Eagles crowd.
I made a helpful graphic to illustrate:
We all know the Eagles are the most popular team in town, so they are the top dog, yes? But when you combine the smaller fan bases of the others sports (plus Villanova, Temple, etc), that overlap is probably larger or at least the same as the cross-section of football fans who would turn the radio off during baseball or hockey talk. I really think the average Philadelphia sports fan would be fine with hearing the appropriate amount of NHL or MLB talk if it was correctly interspersed with the NFL and NBA.
Let me show it to you this way:
If we assume that all of the other teams combined hit (at the very least) the same interest level as the Eagles, then are we not collectively dismissing those fans, who are consumers and possible clients, before we even get started? We are narrowing the potential audience by being conservative programmers, right off the bat.
What if I don’t like the hits?
What if I don’t like Pearl Jam or Bruce Springsteen? I’m hooking up the bluetooth and going straight to Spotify because I want to hear Mudhoney and L7 and whatever else isn’t being played on the radio. I’m putting on a podcast or something else.
And furthermore, what if I DO like the Eagles, but don’t need to hear about them 95% of the time?
That’s the other problem; it’s not that Eagles talk isn’t justified from a money-making and format standpoint, because it is, it’s just that the local sports talk stations are automatically dismissing the alternative without truly exploring if it might be feasible or not. Unfortunately, in an archaic PPM world, people are hired and fired based on a super-small sample size of ratings that really is not truly representative of all Philadelphia sports fans.
So Mike isn’t wrong, and he’s been in the business long enough to know what works and what doesn’t, but the model of OUTRIGHT dismissing large chunks of fans who have other interests just rubs me the wrong way.