A PM Drive sports talk radio host just got fired for doing something racist. No, it’s not Mike Missanelli. Yes, it’s Josh Innes.
Ding, dong. The asshole’s gone.
If you clicked the news on Wednesday, first broken by Crossing Broad, that a high profile and terribly polarizing (emphasis on the terribly) Philly radio host was getting fired, it would have been reasonable to think the ousted yapper would be Mike Missanelli, who finds himself in the center of a racist year-long radio gag gone bad.
Instead, while Missanelli spent much of his show Tuesday explaining to his audience that he had no idea “Dwayne from Swedesboro” — a cartoonishly ethnic caller to Mikey Miss’s show that turned out to be one of his producers, Pat Egan, who is white — was fake, Innes spent a large part of his show addressing the story himself, and predictably taking things too far.
So how did a racist stunt gone wrong at The Fanatic get a host at WIP fired? Well, maybe it didn’t.
First, let’s clean up the bit about “Dwayne from Swedesboro.” Kyle Scott at CB connected the dots from Egan to a hockey teammate of his whose image was used to create the Dwayne persona. Missanelli claims that he had no idea Dwayne wasn’t real, which if you’d ever heard the guy call in, is patently ridiculous.
That said, radio callers pretend to be other people all the time. It’s part of the charm of the cesspool that local sports talk radio has become. There is no indication that even if Missanelli knew Dwayne wasn’t real, or wasn’t even black, that he was in on the gag, or that he knew Egan was behind it. Plausible deniability and all.
Sources within The Fanatic family tell Billy Penn that, as of Tuesday, there was no inclination that anyone was getting fired, despite the story making national news. All publicity is good publicity, perhaps.
We reached out to 97.5 The Fanatic program director Matt Nahigian via email to confirm that no one is getting fired — or, specifically, to ask if anyone is getting fired — and as of the time of this post, he has not replied.
Now, how did a flap at The Fanatic get a host at WIP fired?
Innes has tried, failingly, to become Howard Eskin 2.0, the product of Philly sports radio who cultivates his reputation as a loudmouth jerk who fights with all his callers and treats everyone who disagrees with him like garbage for fun and profit. Eskin’s son, Spike — himself a prominent name in the Philly radio game — is the program director at WIP, and has used Innes in the role that made his father famous for years. Only the elder Eskin, with all his faults, was a Philadelphia institution. Innes was a transplant (originally from Missouri and came to Philly by way of Houston) whose shtick never worked here.
The experiment was a disaster from the start, and no matter who WIP put with him — including Spike himself — and it’s gotten worse the longer Innes has been in town. He was suspended in January for, well, being racist and at the time it was rumored that he could get fired if another similar situation arose.
Consider Innes ripping Missanelli the way he did Tuesday, reportedly referencing the people who “cut Missanelli’s lawn” that other similar situation. Also, it surely didn’t help that Innes took to Twitter to continue his “it’s funny because it’s racist” commentary. (Click here if you want to see the tweet that likely pushed WIP over the line. We aren’t embedding it.)
But, honestly, is that enough to get Innes fired, or was this a way to get him out after sagging ratings and being a general headache for the WIP higher ups? As someone in the industry said when hearing about his ouster, “in some ways it will be a shame if he got fired for racial comments as opposed to the reality of sucking and getting bad ratings. Because now Innes will be able to play the martyr role.”
If he does, it will be in another town. That’s if anyone will have him.
Innes has long said he’s had offers elsewhere, and radio jerks around the country always seem to get jobs somewhere, but this might give program directors pause. If you’re too edgy for WIP — Wing Bowl still exists, yes — who in their right mind will want you?
The haters are smiling. A now former co-worker of Innes sent Billy Penn this note after learning the afternoon drive suddenly has a vacancy: “As someone said to me once, you can be asshole to listeners. You can be an asshole to management. You can be an asshole to other hosts. You can be an asshole to sales.
“You can’t be an asshole to everyone.”