The clock was ticking the moment he got on the air.
Loud, unconventional and controversial, Josh Innes had the lightning-rod trifecta going for him as a public figure, so he was bound to be under the gun once he started spewing his overtly self-absorbed neurotic shtick on WIP Sportstalk Radio. But the fatal shot to his career in Philly, despite rationales to the contrary ranging from his decline in ratings to his sometimes racially charged commentary, was plain and simple:
He wasn’t from here, wasn’t shy about sharing that fact and wasn’t about to buck his own beliefs in order to fit in and become one of “us” …
Yes, indeed, we are nothing in the Delaware Valley if not provincial … and, frankly, it’s kinda sad – not to mention comical for an area that forever promotes itself as being so sports smart.
Yo, hate to break the news, but sports go beyond the city’s limits, not to mention its four major pro franchises.
Oh, no tears need to be shed for Innes. He could be a pompous, overbearing bore who often strayed so far away from talking sports – usually to discuss his one partner’s strip-club activities or some silly music trivia from his “growing up in the ’90s” childhood – that you had to wonder why he even was in the biz. But, the funny thing was, when he did talk about sports he offered a knowledge and insight that has been so dreadfully lacking in the entire history of sports talk in this region.
Put bluntly, he wasn’t restricted by a local bias, nor any fear to go against it, either. At any juncture. We can point to all our favorites across the airwaves or any other media form in town, but none of them could claim to be so unfettered and free to speak the truth, at least as they saw it and not what they thought the consensus in town would prefer to hear.
Not for nothing, people, but to better understand yourself and your teams, it helps to step outside of the Philly fishbowl at times. Offers a clearer, most enlightened view. Innes provided that kind of perspective, and to hear the abject, knee-jerk rejection by the vast majority of listeners, competitors and even colleagues to that paints a frightening picture to how closed off we are to reality here.
To even considering it, never mind actually owning it.
Fired an hour before the start of his afternoon show Wednesday, Innes will be held up as the standard of limitation to bad-boy behavior on Philly radio, his ridiculously immature attack on down-the-dial The Fanatic’s own supposed misstep with a white station producer posing as a black caller for years seen as his death blow.
But this story was written long before that, or even his suspension back in January for calling Eagles center Jason Kelce a “house Negro.”
Innes made it clear immediately that he would not kowtow to our silly “you have to be one of us” mandate in order to be consider legit, and the tick … tick … tick began.
WIP, especially with Innes supporter Andy Bloom running the show behind the scenes, couldn’t ignore his talents, or his ability to relate with narcissistic nerds in Philly sports society, which led to his move from nighttime to afternoons with Tony Bruno. The pair quickly knocked longtime drive-time fave and Fanatic kingpin Mike Missanelli off his ratings perch, and Innes continued as champ once Bruno retired last summer. But things started to crumble once Bloom got canned shortly thereafter, paving the way for then-Innes co-host Spike Eskin to take the reins. To call his relationship with Innes adversarial would be an understatement. Their personalities didn’t mesh, and, hey, unlike himself, Innes wasn’t from Philly … so, you know, screw the outsider.
As of now, mission accomplished.
If it were me …
Wouldn’t even bother looking outside for a candidate to replace Josh Innes at WIP. Got the perfect guy in-house in Brian Haddad, a multi-faceted talent who works behind the scenes at the station and hosts a nighttime show previously held by, surprise, Innes before his move to afternoons.
If anything, Haddad seems to be a cooler, more mature version of Innes. Able to offer the same kind of quirkiness and humor, but in a more filtered fashion.
As in he has a conscience and it shows in how he handles himself with commentary and interacting with callers and guests.
The only hiccup with switching Haddad from nights to days would be if his slightly off-kilter, quite laidback act didn’t quite transition to a different audience. Innes’ energy and intensity fit well with the drive-timers even if his words often didn’t sit well with them.
Haddad, frankly, is a much more likeable, or palatable, on-air presence. The kind who would appeal to people as opposed to attract them by pissing them off, as Innes often did. He also seems more inclined not to shove the “not from Philly” attitude in the face of people, which would be an about-face from Innes’ tactics.
Oh, and a suggestion: let him work solo, or treat him like a star if you partner him with anyone. Not doing either with Innes was a failure.