Alone in the booth at 97.5 the Fanatic studios, Mike Missanelli looks into the distance waiting for the “on air” sign to light up, signaling it’s time for another talk with the sports fans of Philadelphia.
“I aim to always hear both sides of a particular argument because it makes the subject matter more listenable to the public,” Missanelli says.
Over the years, Missanelli has become one of the most popular sports radio personalities in Philadelphia, ranked second behind WMMR in the May 2016 ratings, with more than 105,000 followers on Twitter.
Missanelli believes his key to success on the air is continuing to be creative with how he implements segments like General Knowledge Wednesdays, during which he quizzes listeners on a variety of topics to add a personal touch to the show.
This afternoon, the board is flooded with listeners waiting to get on the air.
Missanelli says he is always excited to discuss Philadelphia sports, especially the Eagles because it’s his favorite team to talk about with listeners.
“Football, football, and more football,” Missanelli says. “The Philly audience is plugged in and engaged with any type of Eagles talk.”
Missanelli grew up in Bristol Borough Bucks County, a very small industrial town on the Delaware River. He graduated from Penn State University in 1977 and played second base for the Nittany Lions baseball team. He also obtained a law degree from the Delaware Law School of Widener University in 1986, while still working at the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He says he became a radio host by accident.
“I had been a newspaper reporter for many years at the Philadelphia Inquirer and many us from the sports department started going on sports talk radio,” Missanelli says. “The 610 WIP management liked what they heard and they offered me a position to be an evening drive host at more money than I was making in newspapers, so I took the job.”
Besides doing radio on WIP, Missanelli had a show on 93.3 WMMR called “The Philly Guys,” which lasted two years. The show included popular Philadelphia comedian and man of a thousand voices, Joe Conklin, and Vinnie “the Crumb.”
In 2006, Missanelli was fired from WIP after an altercation with his producer and, to this day, there are conflicting reports on what actually happened that day.
In 2008, Missanelli was hired by the newly named ESPN 950, making them a contender against WIP as far as ratings went, a first in Philadelphia. Missanelli signed a new multi-year contract with the now called 97.5 the Fanatic in 2010 and has been there ever since.
Although Missanelli has not been writing for awhile, he says he still misses it a great deal and has been writing a column for PhillyMag.com. Recently, he has discontinued writing for the site due to budget cuts.
Today, Missanelli tries to eat some of his soup in between breaks. He is already prepared for the next segment with special guest Jayson Stark, an MLB writer for ESPN, to discuss what is happening around the league in Major League baseball.
As a sports radio personality, Missanelli is able to talk with some of the brightest minds in the sports world, including Philadelphia’s most historic athletes on his radio show.
Out of all the guests he has on the show, he says his favorite is always former Sixers’ power forward and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. Missanelli loves when Barkley occasionally comes in and co-hosts the show with him.
“All you have to do is wind Charles up and you can talk to him about almost any subject, sports or not,” Missanelli adds.
Missanelli hopes to encourage and solicit entertaining conversation each day with callers on the hottest local sports topics of the day. He says he wants to make it fun for people to listen to his show, so he tries to keep it as creative as possible.
“I love the everyday interaction with people,” Missanelli says. “There is always a different day and a different spin you can put on a topic.”