June 30, 2010

An Old Fashioned Radio War is Heating Up in Sports Radio: It's CBS Radio vs. ESPN

This is better than a Mayweather and Pacquiao fight!

It's s-o-o-o-o-o-o 90's! When radio was fun and much more local than it is today and a ratings war between two competiting stations was the norm. Nowadays with corporate meddling, homogenized playlists and limited on-air banter, finding two DJ's going at each other is rare in music formatted radio stations. However that sort of battle still exists in talk radio. This war is between long time Philadelphia sports radio "king" Howard Eskin (who looks like the king from Burger King) and his former co-worker Mike Missanelli.

Eskin who has been a fixture atop the sports ratings at CBS owned 610 WIP for more than 25 years, has seen his kingdom begin to crumble with the local ESPN radio affiliate's addition of Missanelli and their move to simulcast their AM signal (950 WPEN) to the FM side of things (97.5 FM The Fanatic) late last year.

There, caught in the middle to rescue the station are two former NFL Pro Bowl players, Hugh Douglas and Ike Reese. (Yes, the other guy is Charlie Murphy...he kinda looks like Reese and his expression pretty much sums up the behavior and the egomania that is going on behind the scenes at both stations.) The war is exposed in a must read Philadelphia Magazine article "Media: Game On" from Richard Rys.

Here's some good stuff from the former Philadelphia Eagles players:

WIP, in an effort to boost ratings, offered Douglas the position of co-host with Eskin. He flat out turned it down. “It’s a tough spot to be in,” Douglas says of Reese, a former teammate who he says has confided that the gig is taking its toll. “Everything Eskin despises about athletes, he’s the same way — arrogant, flamboyant. But if you have a different opinion from Eskin’s, you’re wrong. Nobody wants to hear you calling someone an idiot. People want an escape. You feel like you’re being browbeaten.” The former NFL defensive end is heard on the morning show and on the weekends at WIP.

WIP's next step was to ask Reese to co-host, who had been holding down the evening slot at the station and generating good ratings. He accepted. "For his part, Reese is gracious when asked about the audible on-air tension between him and Eskin, who is often as condescending to his partner (“Let me teach you something about broadcasting,” Eskin recently said to him) as he is to his callers. “It wasn’t smooth sailing,” Reese admits of his first days with Eskin. “That’s how it is with two alpha males.” Eskin says the pairing is a work in progress: “You have a player who has a tendency to be on the players’ side, so we have some clear differences. My whole career has been in this business, so I understand a little more about [radio].”

However Missanelli is no saint in all of this either. Missanelli was fired from WIP in 2006 for allegedly throwing a punch at a producer during a remote broadcast. From there he co-hosted afternoons with Stephen A. Smith at 1050 ESPN Radio in New York before returning to Philly on "The Fanatic". Missanelli responded today in his blog, "Mikey Miss Fires Back", to the article written in Philadelphia Magazine.

Here's a couple YouTube videos on the two combatants; after reading the articles you will come to the realization that what Lil' Kim and Nicki Minaj or Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel or The Game and 50 or even Tom Joyner and Steve Harvey had wasn't even anything close to BEEF compared to this!

Here's a small bit from the Mike Missanelli show; producer Jon Marks plays a ODB song on the air after a break, but he didn't know it was the uncensored version...

Howard Eskin appears on a Sunday night TV Sports wrap-up show

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