Changes at WIP Continue With Move to FM, Addition of Michael Barkann

Changes at WIP Continue With Move to FM, Addition of Michael Barkann

The time of leaks, rumors, and speculation regarding the future of Sports Radio 610 WIP is for the most part, over, with the official announcement coming down this morning that the station will indeed take over the broadcast signal of sister CBS Radio station 94.1 WYSP, a long-time rock staple of the Philly landscape.  

94 WIP. Try saying that regularly without mixing up the letters after all these years of hearing and saying "94 WYSP" and "610 WIP." Along with the move to FM, effective Tuesday, September 6, comes a major shakeup of the station's programming schedule. 

Thanks to Jamie for the new logo image

We already knew that Howard Eskin was leaving the post he's impressively held for 25 years, that of the PM drive time. On the WIP Morning Show, Angelo Cataldi and company announced that the station's current midday team of Glen Macnow and Anthony Gargano will move to the PM drive shift. I enjoy Glen and Anthony's show, so this was, to me, a natural next move to fill that slot if the station was not in full "blow it up" mode, which clearly they aren't. Moving into the 10-1 slot will be Comcast Sportsnet's Michael Barkann and Eskin's former host, Ike Reese. The morning show will remain intact, and Rob Ellis will take over at 6-10PM.

On paper, the moves appear to be a good fit for the station, which despite largely keeping its teams together, manages to make some significant changes. Eskin's departure alone is significant, whether you mourn it or celebrate it. The addition of Barkann is to me, a no-brainer. As divisive as Eskin was, that's how universally liked Barkann has always appeared to me. I can't speak for everyone else's thoughts on him, but I'm not sure there's a more popular figure in the Philly sports media. If you listen to sports talk or other morning shows, particularly 93.3 WMMR's Preston and Steve show, you've no doubt heard Barkann. He's knowledgeable, and he's genuinely funny. Exactly what I tune in to hear.  

Barkann is the anchor of Comcast SportsNet's Daily News Live, Eagles Pre- and Postgame Live, and various other shows, and he'll keep those roles. CSN says that they are excited for the new lineup at SportsRadio WIP, including the new Barkann and Reese show.

Sports talk radio is a tough, tough job that very few people can do well. I try and often fail to remember that when I hear someone say something I don't like, disagree with, or know to not be true, whether intentionally or not. I also know I'm not the only member of their target audience, which I've learned in my much more limited exposure writing for this site, can disagree on just about anything. I think if anyone can handle that pressure and manage to stay true to what made him so likable in the first place, it's Michael Barkann. What remains to be seen now is whether the safe choice is the smart choice, but that'd be true of adding any new host.  

I also came to like Ike Reese as a buffer to a host I wasn't a big fan of in Eskin. Whether the edict came down from management or there was pressure from Mike Missanelli's increasing popularity and ratings on 97.5 The Fanatic, already on FM, Ike usually complemented Eskin in a way I wasn't expecting. Though they would fight too, for the most part, the show was less caustic than when Howard was on his own.  

With Barkann, I don't think 'caustic' will enter the equation, though he can snark with the best of them while somehow staying positive (something else I think will benefit the station, whose two previous biggest personalities enjoyed going negative with the best of them). I thought Reese did reasonably well in a complementary role though, and after listening to him on his own evening show and then with Eskin, I do think he earned his place in the new lineup. I know others don't agree, and he still has some growing to do as a host. There has been a very noticeable effort in developing his radio voice and personality, and especially his knowledge of sports other than the one he played professionally. I've been impressed with that effort and the results, and apparently, so too were the folks who make decisions at WIP and CBS Radio.  

In many ways, the loss of WYSP is not unlike the departure of Eskin. It's monumental in that the station was a staple of our listening lives, whether we were listening or not. But radio has for a long time been shifting more toward talk than music, and people have every song they've ever wanted to hear on their iPod or phone or whatever else now. Rock certainly isn't dead, but rock stations have been suffering in the ratings battle against many talk formats. One guy I hope to see emerge in a sports capacity is Spike Eskin, Howard's son, who has been a host at WYSP but currently is not part of the WIP takeover. He's a likeable guy with great music and sports knowledge, and I've really liked him as a Sixers personality and general man about town. 

The ongoing ratings battle between Missanelli and WIP should be interesting if you're into that kind of scorekeeping. Mikey Miss has drawn a lot of listeners in his return to Philly. Some of those listeners simply wanted any alternative to Eskin, whereas others are just huge Missanelli fans. Whether he'll lose listeners as a result of the change in WIP's drive time remains to be seen. He too can be a polarizing figure, but as Eskin's run proved, that draws listeners and advertisers.   

More changes could be on the way as well. Brian Westbrook might be getting some on-air time, Jody Mac's appearances could become more frequent, and Larry Anderson will be doing a weekly segment with Glen and Anthony.  

So what are your thoughts on the changes at WIP? This is a topic that often brings out the opinions, just as the sports talk format itself is designed to do.

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

Phillies likely to carry rookie backup catcher in 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The likelihood of the Phillies going with a rookie backup catcher in 2017 increased dramatically when the Miami Marlins signed free agent A.J. Ellis on Wednesday.

Ellis spent the final month of the 2016 season with the Phillies after coming over from the Dodgers in the Carlos Ruiz trade. Ellis, 35, got high marks for his work with the Phillies’ young pitching staff and the Phils had some interest in bringing him back. The interest, however, was complicated by a tight 40-man roster, which already includes three catchers — starter Cameron Rupp and minor-league prospects Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp.

With Ellis out of the picture, the Phillies will likely use either Alfaro or Knapp as the backup catcher in 2017. Knapp spent a full year at Triple A in 2016 and could end up being the guy as Alfaro moves to Triple A for another year of seasoning.

General manager Matt Klentak spoke earlier this week of the possibility of going with a rookie at backup catcher.

“Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A,” Klentak said. “He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

It’s not all that surprising that Ellis ended up with the Marlins on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. He played for Marlins manager Don Mattingly during the latter’s time as manager of the Dodgers.

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

Wired to win, Carson Wentz growing frustrated with Eagles' losing

He’s already lost more games as an NFL quarterback than as a college quarterback, and Carson Wentz says he’ll never get used to all the losing.
 
Wentz, who went 20-3 as a college starter, is 5-7 a dozen games into his rookie year.
 
The Eagles have lost five of their last six games and are 2-7 in their last nine.
 
From Seattle through Cincinnati, Wentz lost as many games in a 15-day span as he lost in his entire career as a starter at North Dakota State.
 
“It’s frustrating,” Wentz said Wednesday. “No one likes losing, especially in this business as a quarterback. 
 
“I’m wired to be a winner. I hate losing. But at the same time it doesn’t affect us going forward. I know it doesn’t affect me and I can probably say the same thing for the guys in that locker room. 
 
“We’re going to come in and prepare and be the same win or lose, because I think that’s what it takes to be great and you can’t waver. You can’t change how you approach things. You can’t change how you go about your business, win, lose or draw. 
 
“But at the same time, yeah, without a doubt. We don’t like losing around here.”
 
The Eagles have the third-worst record in the NFL since Week 4, ahead of only the hapless Browns and 49ers. 

They haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention yet, but it sure seems like only a matter of time.
 
Since building a 3-0 record, the Eagles’ only wins have come on Oct. 23 over the Viking and Nov. 13 over the Falcons, both at the Linc.
 
No NFL quarterback has lost more games than Wentz since Week 4. Wentz and Blake Bortles are both 2-7 during that stretch and Sam Bradford is 3-6.
 
North Dakota State went 71-5 with five national championships during Wentz’s five years in Bismarck, North Dakota. As a starter, he was 15-1 as a junior, including the postseason, then went 5-2 during an injury-marred senior year, although for a second straight year he led the Bison to the FCS national title.
 
So he’s not used to losing. Not at all. Not like this.
 
“You get in the locker room and it’s kind of a down feeling,” he said. “A lot of you guys are in the locker room after the game. They’re tough. You don’t like losing, no one does. Especially on the road having to get on the plane or the bus or whatever and come back home. 
 
“But you get over it. You turn on the tape and you learn from it. But right after you watch that tape, it’s on to the next. That’s kind of the nature of this league and that’s how you have to approach it.”

Fortunately, the Eagles have an expert on just this subject in the NovaCare Complex. 
 
Doug Pederson pointed out Wednesday he was a part of some really bad teams, and he said that gives him an ability to relate to Wentz on how to endure all the losing.
 
“In Cleveland we were 3-and-13 (in 2000), and then Philadelphia, my first year, being 5-and-11,” said Pederson, who was also an assistant coach on a 4-12 Eagles team in 2012. 
 
“Just kind of leaning back on those experiences and how we fought through. How we fought through adversity. How people try to divide the team or say negative things about players or whatever. We just kind of kept that thing nice and tight. 
 
“So those are things that I can lean back, when you talk about the experience factor. I lean back on those experiences to relay to Carson how we went about our business during those following weeks to come and kept that team together. 
 
“We had great leadership on the team, like we do now. With him, it's just a matter of keeping him grounded, keeping him level headed. He's a leader of this football team, and he doesn't have to do it all himself. That's the beauty of it. There are 10 other guys on offense, and 11 on defense, and special teams that have a big part in this whole process.”
 
Wentz has been going non-stop for almost a year now. From the FCS title game to combine prep to draft prep to OTAs and minicamps to training camp and now heading into Week 14 of the regular season.
 
But he said he doesn’t feel any signs of burn-out or fatigue. Although his numbers have dipped over the past couple months, he said he feels fresh and upbeat going into the final quarter of the season, which begins with the Redskins at the Linc on Sunday.
 
“I feel good,” he said. “I think it comes down to: Do you love it enough? I think if you love the game and you’re around it, you enjoy the grind. You attack it and it’s part of the process. 
 
“For me, there’s no more school to go to during the day. It’s just football all day every day and I love that. It’s been a lot of fun and by no means is it wearing on me in a negative way.”
 
What about his numbers? The stats are not pretty. 
 
Games 1 through 4: 67 percent completion, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 103.5 passer rating, 3-1 record.
 
Games 5 through 8: 61 percent completion, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 72.4 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Games 9 through 12: 61 percent completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 68.3 passer rating, 1-3 record.
 
Wentz shrugs it all off. 
 
“We’re all a work in progress. every quarterback in this league I think would say that,” Wentz said.
 
“You’re never a finished product, myself included. So you’re always analyzing different things you can do, from pocket movement to footwork. You’re always analyzing those things. So we talk about those things but we don’t harp on it. 
 
“Myself and really just everybody, we’ve just got to be better disciplined to things. Whether that’s alignment or pre-snap things, from recognition, from reads, you name it. We just all have to be disciplined. Really just execute better. It starts with me. Control our mistakes and that goes for everybody, myself first and foremost.
 
“We now what we’re capable of, I think everyone in the building does. We just have to get over the hump a little bit here.”