Who Replaces Anthony Gargano at 97.5 the Fanatic?
If you missed it last night, we posted a story about Anthony Gargano officially being done at 97.5 the Fanatic following a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit involving Beasley and All City. All parties in the case agreed to a framework that keeps Cuz behind the scenes for another six months, which means he’s going to be iced out until April, missing the entirety of the Eagles season and Phillies playoffs.
As usual, we like to do a follow-up story exploring how a long-tenured media member is replaced, though this one is honestly a head scratcher. 97.5 the Fanatic is hemorrhaging talent. They recently lost Mike Missanelli and Devon Givens, Jamie Lynch and Hunter Brody were laid off, and program director Chuck Damico is going back to WMMR. It’s been a revolving door of talent and behind the scenes folks for several years now.
Instead of listing things out in some kind of bulleted order, I decided this time to do various groupings, and offer generic thoughts instead:
Aggressive moves that are highly unlikely to happen, but would move the needle
Surely the Fanatic would not bring back Mikey Miss, right? That seems highly unlikely as long as VP and Market Manager Joe Bell remains in charge. That Mike/Fanatic split did not end well and the lingering resentment carried for months. A new PD coming in would be the baseline prerequisite to mend that relationship.
What about Josh Innes? Believe it or not, they did have interest in bringing Josh back to Philadelphia for a part-time role several years ago, but it didn’t pan out. At this point, it feels like that ship has sailed. Josh is currently doing classic rock at KSHE in St. Louis.
Harry Mayes? Jason Myrtetus? It’s not implausible.
The one thing I hear more than anything is that people liked the Fanatic lineups of the last decade. I constantly see tweets and Facebook posts asking for the return of Tony Bruno, Mayes, and other departed talent. Some are still working in local radio, like Nick Kayal, who has the morning slot at 1210 WPHT. Marc Farzetta started his own show and Tom Byrne is doing the Sirius thing. Eytan Shander works a variety of gigs in the market. Beasley could go back to what they had 5-7 years ago if they really want to.
I’d back Mike Gill at 97.3 ESPN in Atlantic City, and I’m not just saying that because he’s a WVU guy and friend of the site. Mike does a straightforward, no-nonsense afternoon show in South Jersey. He does not take phone calls. He loads his show with guests and focuses on sports. He interned for WIP back in the day and has familiarity in this market, so at the same time he would be something new, but bring that the requisite experience and knowledge. I have no clue if Mike would even want to leave 97.3, nor do I know how the WIP and Fanatic managers view him.
The other thing to consider is a WIP poach job here, but does anyone want to leave WIP for the Fanatic at this point? If we’re thinking of non-daypart, non-weekday guys over there, Jack Fritz is climbing the ladder and recently got an expanded role at the station. Rob Ellis left WIP, then left the Fanatic, then came back to WIP. Glen and Jody and Mike Sielski have their weekend thing. It’s hard to see who even fits that description now. Maybe somebody like a Tom Kelly, or Bill Matz before he went to All City.
There’s also Fox Sports The Gambler. Sean Braces is a Fanatic alum. They have a lot of talented young guys over there who are ready for the next step.
And what about JAKIB Media and/or NBC Sports Philadelphia? Ricky Bo is crossover talent who works at both stations. JAKIB has Derrick Gunn, who I think would really add some football credibility to the Fanatic’s roster. Reuben Frank has been a longtime WIP contributor, but could have a larger presence on 97.5. Same thought with Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan, who used to do their show on both stations before going independent.
Any print types wanna do radio?
Early sports talk radio was staffed by newspaper writers. That’s how we got Cataldi. Is there anyone at the Inquirer right now who would be a good radio host? Jeff McLane? Mike Jensen? David Murphy? Marcus Hayes is doing WIP. I’m old enough to remember when Gonzo and Vai did their show. Dunno about 2023 though, there’s so much youth at the Inquirer and the various legacy outlets in town that it’s hard to see a replication of what we had many years ago.
Hiring from within
Andrew Salciunas is currently in the Fanatic’s 10 to 2 slot. He does a good job with the midday show, but was Gargano’s sidekick, so management has to determine if he’s a lead host or a second host at this point in his career. Prior to Jamie Lynch departing for All City, the pair hosted together while Gargano was on vacation, and it seemed like Fanatic listeners enjoyed those shows. However, Lynch is out for good, so the Fanatic would have to go down another road if they wanted to give Andrew a new partner and leave him in the main chair.
That could come in the form of a Connor Thomas, Tom Alvord, or Ray Dunne. The one thing about Beasley losing talent is that the younger guys over there are getting plenty of reps. Thomas appears on the morning show with regularity, and the trio has been filling a variety of shifts. Whether or not management thinks they’re ready for the next step is the question to consider.
There are veterans on the weekend as well. Kevin Cooney added institutional knowledge on Saturdays and Sundays, and Dei Lynam has her basketball expertise. Cooney in a Monday to Friday role is something to think about. My personal opinion is that the Fanatic could go for more of those types of guys, just knowledgeable people who have worked in this market for a decade-plus and know their stuff.
Kevin Kinkead w/ Kyle Pagan
I’d pick up a weekend shift here or there. We’d talk mixed martial arts, Philadelphia Union soccer, and college football. My three favorite sports. We’ll call it “Philadelphia Not Four for Four with Kinker, also featuring Kyle Pagan.” I’m actually kind of liking this idea. We’ll talk about everything that doesn’t get enough coverage in the region. No topic is off limits. We can even get into death metal. Phone lines are wide open!