Mike Miss Fires Back

Philly Mag's new "Game On" story paints me as some kind of nut. It's my turn to set the record straight

One of the great things about having a Philly Post blog on phillymag.com is that when Philadelphia magazine writes a piece that involves you, you get to answer back.

The story “Game On” in this month’s Philly Mag is a sometimes revealing and introspective look inside the Philadelphia sports talk radio wars between my station, 97.5 FM The Fanatic (and 950 ESPN for those of you who still only have AM radio), and the other sports talk radio station in town. The story has an interesting hub: sports talk host from the other station is fired by that other station and surfaces at the new shop in town, where he comes back to beat his former station in the ratings and becomes part of a thriving new station. The fired sports-talk host who landed at the new station would be me.

The author of the piece, Rich Rys, is a good writer and a seemingly nice enough fellow. But it does seem that the man is determined to portray me as some kind of nut. Rys has told me directly that he has no such agenda. But in two Philly Mag stories now, he’s made me seem like Joe Davola from Seinfeld. [SIGNUP]

In the first piece, Rys fashioned some kind of psychobabble-inspired, combustible collection of circumstances — a divorce (that occurred WAY long ago), my mom’s passing (nearly as long ago), and a couple of other things — as reasons for me getting into an altercation with a producer that led to my firing from the other sports talk station. The reason for that incident was considerably simpler: the producer was in freak-out mode due to some technical malfunctions on the show, then called me a filthy, vile name and I engaged him just like anyone else who would be so challenged.

In the most recent piece, Rys characterized me as some kind of corporate office terrorist, who devours co-workers with fire breath once I find them cowering behind their cubicles. Many of the folks from which Rys solicited opinions have since revealed to me that his line of questioning urgently solicited “Missanelli freak out stories.” (The story also had a gratuitous reference to my girlfriend and her position as correspondent on the Phillies post-game show, which had no correlation to anything.) Whatever. I guess those kinds of things do make for a better magazine story. Of course, I must add that Philly Mag did give me the “Come From Behind“ award in last year‘s “Best of Philly” edition. So, if you’re keeping score, I’m only down 2 to 1.

The way I see it, though, nobody knows me more than me. So for the people who are interested, here’s the way I see things.

On my daily radio show — from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m and beyond on 97.5 FM The Fanatic — I attempt to spill my bucket, to give the listeners everything that I have, and do the best show possible. The show is way bigger than me. It’s about providing information and entertainment for the people who listen and also keeping them tuned in. So, in that context, it’s the people who really own the show. Am I demanding? If you call wanting to always produce a quality product demanding, then I guess I’m that.

I want the folks involved with the show to bring the same passion and energy and dedication to the show that I try to bring, whether it‘s a producer, an engineer, an intern, or even the program director. There’s a radio war out there and we’re trying to win it. Every day is pressure-filled and every day you slack is a day that you could lose listeners and never get them back. In that way, I’m no different than any factory foreman, or magazine editor, or store manager or pro coach or CEO who attempts to bring the best out of their people in order to achieve maximum efficiency. In Pulp Fiction, problem fixer Winston Wolf answers the whines of Vincent Vega, who’s charged with cleaning up a Chevy Nova stained with blood, skull fragments and scattered brains with this: “If I’m curt with you, that’s because time is of the essence.” For us, time is of the essence. At 97.5 The Fanatic, we are making unbelievable strides in taking over sports-talk radio in this town. And we have to keep our foot on the gas pedal.

Perhaps the most amusing element of the “Game On” story, to me at least, was a quote from an anonymous co-worker who said, “Whenever he has a big name on the show, he barks and tears into them to prove that no one is bigger than Mike Missanelli.” Let me assure that when I tear into a guest, like Michael Wilbon or a Skip Bayliss or a Keith Law, it’s for a good reason that has absolutely nothing to do with me personally and everything to do with having the backs of the people, who have had to tread the filthy water of Philly fan perception, fostered by lazy national media nitwits, way too long. I’m beyond my name, and even my body, when I’m doing something like that.

Also, in the story, I was called “a first rate scumbag” by the program director of the other station, some guy named Bloom. At least he said “first rate.” What’s interesting is that I have never even met the man. But then again, I guess I would feel that same kind of angst if my legacy as a program director was losing the evening-drive ratings war in just one year after having a 20-year head start. This Bloom dude apparently used to be a classic rock PD and came back to radio after working in a manufacturing plant. And the people at the other station (yes, Rich Rys, I have sources too) tell me that he wouldn’t know sports talk radio from an Aerosmith song. So, I ain’t mad at ya, Holmes.

The bottom line is this: I’m at 97.5 FM The Fanatic right now because it’s a great place to work. I became free several years ago because management at the other station at the time was too weak to stand behind one of their employees. At the end of that day, the incident that Rich Rys can’t stop talking about was simply a disagreement between two male co-workers that should have been settled with a handshake and a smile. And yes, before I signed a new deal with my current employer, that other station tried to woo me back and offered to “get rid” of the other guy. The irony of me landing at a burgeoning station like 97.5 The Fanatic, so topical and fun, is thick enough to be cut with a chainsaw.

Sometimes, karma can be a mother.

Listen to MIKE MISSANELLI weekday afternoons on 97.5 FM The Fanatic.