Tuesday brought some stunning Philadelphia sports talk radio news.
Mike Missanelli, the longtime afternoon drive host at 97.5 The Fanatic, abruptly announced his immediate departure on air. His victory lap lasted about two hours, as opposed to Mike Francesa taking roughly two years the first time around.
Missanelli’s exit comes with WIP morning show stalwart Angelo Cataldi scheduled to retire at the end of the year. So it’s a season of change in Philly, and one that reminds us just how stable New York’s airwaves have become over the last year or so after the post-Francesa, post-Craig Carton arrest upheaval.
You can never say never in the radio business. But WFAN seems pretty locked-in with its lineup under new program director Spike Eskin.
Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti are a juggernaut in the mornings. Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney are new to middays, but have been together for a decade. And while Carton and Evan Roberts remain a somewhat-polarizing mix in the afternoon, their program has found its footing. And they have begun to do exactly what Audacy wanted when it brought Carton back: Beat the heck out of ESPN Radio New York in the only timeslot where it is relevant.
ESPN is a non-factor with its local morning show (Rick DiPietro and Dave Rothenberg) and its local midday show (Alan Hahn and Bart Scott). But it thought it had an actual radio war on its hands when Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg beat Carton and Roberts in last fall’s ratings book — the biggest victory of Kay’s career, surpassing his win over a mailing-it-in Francesa ahead of his second retirement.
The recent numbers say there will be no see-saw battle. WFAN is running away again, Yankees day game boost or not. And unless ESPN is going to pull off a massive shakeup with Kay’s show — which seems highly improbable, considering they let him lose every book to Francesa for almost two decades — the landscape seems pretty set.
While ESPN is seemingly always tinkering with its lineup under Kay, those moves never move the needle. If anything, the only intrigue left would be if WFAN were to somehow right its biggest mistake in recent years and bring Scott back. Losing the former Jets star was a colossal blunder by WFAN. He had grown into a strong voice by the time he left after the debacle that was the station’s handling of him, Chris Carlin and Maggie Gray. And if he hadn’t left, it would likely be him and Carton in the afternoon with Gray and Roberts in middays.
The Fanatic reportedly already has a new program lined up to replace Missanelli. WIP’s post-Cataldi plans remain unknown.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]