Best of Philly 2005: Media, Sports & Power

Anchors, athletes, important people — here’s who’s really got game

Addition to Philadelphia: Southwest Airlines In a little more than a year, it has transformed flying out of the Philly airport from expensive and a chore to cheap and fun. Hey, Herb Kelleher, any interest in taking over city government?

Reason to read the Inquirer. Still. After all these years Gail Shister One of the few columnists at the paper who hasn’t forgotten that people aren’t obliged to read her column just because it lands on their doorstep each morning. She covers TV the way it should be covered: as an incredibly powerful cultural force … that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. She’s also one of the few Inky writers whose copy somehow regularly evades the paper’s vast humor-vacuum system.

Local TV show: Eagles Post Game Live This raucous roundtable, which airs on Comcast SportsNet after every Birds game, works like Cheers, Gilligan’s Island, or any other perfectly cast sitcom, with each character complementing the others: There’s Michael Barkann as the smooth skipper, Ray Didinger as the professorial football tactician, Vaughn Hebron as the ex-jock with street cred (he calls Didinger “R Diddy”), and our favorite, Governor Ed Rendell, as the football-crazy fan who lives with every first down and dies with every blown third-down conversion.

Reason for Ed Rendell to fear for his job: Eagles Post Game Live We love the Guv, but around the rest of the state, his Eagles obsession is increasingly seen as evidence that’s he’s governor of Philadelphia, not Pennsylvania.

Real relationship on the radio: John DeBella and Jen Posner, WMGK
DeBella’s staying power in Philly radio — after every imaginable up, down, in and out — is something to behold. But what makes his current morning gig at WMGK work so well is his relationship with sidekick Posner. It’s equal parts big brother-little sister, bickering husband-and-wife, and best office buddies — and it doesn’t have a hint of phoniness. (Unless, of course, it’s completely phony — in which case we’re even more impressed.)

Reason to go to Citizens Bank Park: Chase Utley Partly for the fact that he hits in the clutch. Partly for the fact that he hustles and always makes something happen. Partly for the fact that he’s hot. If the Phils put nine Utleys on the field every day, they’d have a pennant. And a sold-out ballpark.

New Radio Station: 95.7 Ben-fm Their tagline — “Playing anything we feel like” — is kind of a crock, but they do play more songs and more different types of music than any Philly station in ages. Where else can you hear Led Zeppelin, Morrissey and “The Electric Slide,” all in the same half-hour?

Most Self-Congratulatory Radio Tagline: KYW Newsradio It now proclaims in its station IDs that it broadcasts at “1060 on your radio dial and worldwide at” Like people in Darfur are tuning in to hear if there’s a gaper delay at the Conshohocken curve.

Reason to pay attention to the Daily News: The departure of Zack Stalberg His leave-taking earlier this year — after he ran the paper for more than two decades — didn’t exactly lighten the mood in the already paranoid Daily News newsroom. Will it mean the end of the paper’s pitch-perfect tabloid voice? That Knight-Ridder has one less reason to continue publishing the paper? That fewer f-bombs are thrown about the newsroom? (Well, yes, it will definitely mean that.) Stay tuned for the most compelling soap opera in local media.

Reason to pay attention to the Committee of 70: The arrival of Zack Stalberg
The election watchdog group has long been too cozy with the dogs it’s supposed to be watching. Stalberg’s hiring as executive director gives it a chance to start fresh — and to become the aggressive reform group Philly so desperately needs.