“All good things must end,” admitted former Houston radio host Josh Innes, now of SportsRadio94 WIP. Though his time in the great state of Texas ended with somewhat of a whimper, Innes seeks to bring a breath of fresh air to his new stomping grounds of Philadelphia.
Since arriving just prior to the 2013 Eagles’ playoff game, Innes has brought his laid-back show format to the airwaves of WIP. Contrary to the sports-centered programs hosted by Mike and Ike, The Morning Team, and Anthony and Rob, Innes juxtaposes prominent sports stories with off-topic, wacky segments to allow the public to directly relate. Also intertwined in the show are some unorthodox opinions that don’t necessarily correlate with the popular Philadelphia mindset. In referring to the movie Tommy Boy, Innes summarized his stance: “I do my show for the American working man because that’s who I am, and that’s who I care about.”
Innes was born to a father immersed in the radio industry. Scott Innes dominated daytime radio waves in the Southeast and Midwest: “I grew up around radio that was meant to be more fun and entertaining. People respond more to those who can relate to them on a human level,” Innes said. His father’s prolific radio career prompted Innes’ family to relocate from city to city. Having experienced a variety of media markets, Innes brings to the table diverse takes on a plethora of sports issues.
Personally, Innes began his own broadcasting career calling minor league hockey games in his youth. His early start left Innes with a lot to learn about the business. As a 17-year old, Innes took up a “Tiger John” persona in a comments section of “Tiger Droppings,” an LSU-based media outlet. In the comments section, listeners ripped him in on a daily basis, prompting him to post compliments through this false personality.
This humorous instance doesn’t fall far from the tree of comical shenanigans that make Innes’ show a laugh factory. During his days in Houston, Innes prank-called a Wyoming radio station, initiating a string of prank calls from other listeners linking onto Innes’ spoof. Following a Texans-Bengals game, Innes and his friend drunkenly stumbled into Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis’ press conference, and even asked a question in their discombobulated state. On the radio, Innes also uses sound technology to portray himself as “God,” with an omniscient voice. Marc Farzetta, a host who broadcasts news updates during Innes’ show, then talks about casual topics, humorously personifying God as a human being. Recently, Innes ran a segment where he took calls unscreened, causing people to call in with statements such as “I love you.”
During his Houston days, Innes was unable to experience broadcasting to a lively audience. “If you go down to one of those Southern cities, where the passion isn’t what it is here, and you can generate an audience in those type of cities, I think that’s a lot harder to do. Here it’s kind of built in: the passion and fire is all there.” Because the people of Houston lacked year-round attention to local sports, Innes would employ more of a 50-50 ratio between sports conversations and off-topic rants. Here, Innes has changed to a 75-25 ratio of sports to non-sports. A major personality in Houston, Innes received an interesting response when he left the city: “I got calls and texts from every radio personality saying ‘thank you for leaving.’”
Here in Philadelphia, Innes relishes the fans’ drive to follow and talk sports: “As far as cities go where sports really matter, and sports radio really matters, there are only four big cities, and this is one of them,” Innes stated. WIP Operations Manager Andy Bloom brought Innes in for his aggressive style which, coupled with robust opinions, makes for a unique broadcast. Despite some of the negative results and criticisms, backlash should not be feared, Innes said, “I think that if you’re willing to go against the grain—and you end up being right on some of this stuff—it gives you more credibility to people that have a brain than if you just get on the air and ride the home team.”
This barstool setting will open up the radio waves for voices that are more authentic, and much more relatable, as Innes’ time in Philadelphia progresses. Newer hosts like Brian Haddad, Adam Reigner, and Marc Farzetta would be wise to incorporate some of the off-beat methods Innes employs. “It opens it up for them to have a different sound as well. Someone comes in and puts together this new sound. It’s a new sound that people can respond to, a new sound that people can adhere to, and you try it as well,” Innes explained. Samples of this living room talk can be heard on Innes’ nightly show, as he often says things like “Ruben Amaro sucks,” or “Carry Williams is Baltimore castoff trash.” This concise, potent opinion spurs more conversations, and makes for a more engaging and polarizing show. “Thats to me the way people talk when you’re in a bar, and I think people respond to that.”
From chatting it up with his grandma on air, to breaking down the struggles of the Eagles’ defense, Innes could symbolize the next generation of not only Philadelphia radio hosts, but also newfound opinions that could foster in the Philly media.
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