There’s a common misconception that Philly sports talk radio thrives on misery. As a newbie producer at 97.5 The Fanatic, I can tell you that’s not entirely true — especially this year.
The ratings will back me up. Philadelphia fans are happy to revel in success, and will light up the phone lines to talk about almost anything related to our teams when times are good.
And right now, times are pretty great. The Phillies made it an amazing Red October and are primed for another few years of contention, the Eagles are the top seed in the NFC, and hey, the Sixers have been doing OK even with an injured Joel Embiid.
Much of my job at 97.5 is spent behind the scenes. I screen calls, edit audio, and push the right buttons at the right time. Answering the phone and hearing directly from listeners is probably the best part. Whether it’s a regular screaming with excitement or a first timer who just “had to call because they want to talk with someone,” it’s cool to be part of the bigger picture each of these moments contribute to.
One of the most impactful stories I’ve witnessed the station tell so far was about “Geoff from DC,” a Philly transplant who honored his late father throughout the Phillies’ postseason run.
Looking back, I had lots of training to wake up and react to what happened in the world of sports the night before.
My dad and I would listen to sports talk radio while running errands on weekends, trade pages of The Inquirer’s sports section as I got ready for school, and watch “SportsRise” on Comcast Sportsnet. By the time the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, I was certifiably obsessed — and decided, at the age 8, that all I wanted to do was talk about sports for a living.
I began telling everyone who would listen that I was going to be a sports broadcaster. I went to a camp for it, spent the better part of my teenage years trying to muster up any experience I can get, and took advantage of every single opportunity in college.
At Temple University, I anchored a lot of coverage at the student-run radio station. I covered the switch in men’s basketball coaches from Fran Dunphy to Aaron McKie. And if I’m remembered for nothing else, it’ll be getting called out by a former Temple Football coach as I tried to fix a boom mic during his press conference.
After graduating with a degree in media studies, I took a job I wasn’t fully excited about. Last spring, after trying it out for a few months, I took my parents’ advice and devised a plan to get out of it.
I applied to work at 97.5, and was hired. The job couldn’t have come at a better time for Philly sports.
The day the Phils played Game 1 of the NLDS — and won! — I got to fill in during the Anthony Gargano Show.
There was a stretch at the beginning where I remember watching the host do his thing and thinking, “Oh shit, the show I’ve listened to forever is happening and I’m being paid to contribute to it.”
After the first segment, I went into the studio to talk with Anthony. His advice? Just relax.
During one show, we gave our callers the opportunity to give us their bosses’ contact information so we could call to try to get them out of work. It was an afternoon Phillies game and Anthony thought it would be fun.
The segment rocked. After the second person we convinced to play hookey, it felt like we hit our stride.
In the weeks leading up to the World Series, I also worked on the John Kincade Show. It looked a little something like this: Kincade, one of the most accomplished radio hosts in the country, beloved Philly journalist Bob Cooney, my boss Eric Camille, and me, a 22-year-old whom YouTube commenters swear isn’t old enough to legally work.
The first months of my sportscasting career in Philly may end up being their pinnacle, but I’ve been truly living the dream.