When you’re talking sportstalk in Philly – or any place else, it seems – you gotta have some geeky or dweeby or nerdy or dorky coming through the airwaves. It’s taken me decades to realize this, but geekiness reigns supreme in the world of sportstalk, and quite possibly sports in general.
Tough, hard-nosed, athletic, non-geeky may have set apart athletes and the sports they play. But, what draws people, what keeps them there, is that their geekiness is accepted in fandom and even promoted in sportstalk. Reality is, that’s brilliant. It opens the door to acceptance. It makes everyone welcome, including those too awkward or uncomfy to actually get involved with playing sports, or even following them, when they were younger.
Talking about coming out of the closet. After experiencing a frightened adolescence in which your sports opinions not only were unheard, but unwelcome, now the geeks of society have as much access to speak up as anyone. Yeah, yeah, we’ll hear about social media being the harbinger of such openness. But, really, it goes back to the likes of Angelo Cataldi making the move from print to radio 25 years ago. A great writer whose work had much more teeth than what readers are privy to reading these days, “Ang” made being geeky on-air cool before geeky even became common lingo for describing the uncool.
Oh, there is a place for the cool, “you don’t know sports like I do” crowd. Mike Missanelli has made a nice career in the Philly market while working from that bully pulpit, and, truth be told, I’d always been more comfy residing within that realm myself. So much so that I was unaware of the impact that geekdom has in the sports world.
But I’ve been awakened, and I’m acutely aware of what Cataldi’s station, WIP, feels it has in Josh Innes. In short, it sees him as the next Ang. He’s representative of Geek Nation 2.0. He’s not necessarily my cup of tea all the time, but I can’t deny that he entertains me and that he has tapped into the masses. He’s funny. He’s witty. He’s geeky. He even has sports knowledge that stretches beyond the city limits, which speaks to a non-provincial such as myself in loud volume.
Only 28, he could be the answer to replacing Ang, who, at 64, now has a shelf life that even decades of success cannot erase. How long that is, who knows. But WIP has its ratings winner to follow in his footsteps, if all parties, indeed, ultimately opt to go that route, and his formula for success is eerily similar to the current champ. Of course, Cataldi plays well with others while getting his geek on, as evidenced by the almost Kumbaya spirit enjoyed with his Morning Team. Innes hasn’t necessarily done that during his 20-plus months in Philly. Maybe that’s why the station is pushing for him to be partnered with another, or others, in the afternoon. To see if he can.
Maybe it’s afraid of a mean, unlikeable geek, thinking that can’t work. After all, the whole geek thing is about inviting all to be on board, right? Perhaps that includes hosts, too.
Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org