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August 24, 2016

Afternoon host Josh Innes fired by Sportsradio 94 WIP

This is turning into quite an interesting week for Philly sports talk radio.

On Tuesday, we found out that one of 97.5 The Fanatic's regular callers into the afternoon show hosted by Mike Missanelli -- an African-American man named "Dwayne from Swedesboro" -- was actually just a white producer for the station who many felt was promoting negative racial stereotypes.

But the most recent news concerns their direct competition, Sportsradio 94 WIP, and specifically controversial afternoon drive host Josh Innes.

BRIAN HICKEY: Josh Innes was the worst and I’m happy we (hopefully) never have to hear him on Philly airwaves again

A source within WIP has confirmed that Innes has been fired by the station after three and half years on the air. The news was first reported by Kyle Scott of WIP would only say that Innes was no longer employed there, but didn't offer any specifics as to why.

“We can confirm that Josh Innes is no longer with WIP," the station said in statement Wednesday afternoon. "Various station personalities will fill in during the afternoon show until a new host is announced.”

By early evening, the Twitter account for his show (@JoshInnesShow) had been shut down, presumably by the station since his personal account was still up and running.

Was it a ratings slump that's seen him finish behind Missanelli for nine straight months that did Innes in? His contract is set to expire at the end of this year and Innes was supposed to get the next few months, which include Eagles season, to turn it all around.

Or, perhaps, it was something more controversial, like his comments from Tuesday -- just one of the several questionable things he's said on-air over the years, like the time he called Jason Kelce a "house negro," which earned him a short suspension -- regarding what happened at 97.5 a day earlier. After referring to his competition as a minstrel show, which he went on to repeatedly pronounce "menstrual," Innes tweeted the following. 

Then again, it could just be karma for that time he said Jimmy Kempski was the worst sportswriter in the city.

More likely, however, it was a combination of those things. And when you add to that the toxic environment Innes was creating at the station, it's a surprise he even lasted this long.

Another source close to WIP told PhillyVoice that Innes' personality and antics had been wearing on others, including on-air hosts and management. It also caused a local establishment to ban their afternoon show from broadcasting there because of the way he treated its staff, putting in jeopardy a larger partnership that, had it collapsed, would have cost them quite a bit of money.

"He was just a real creep [to them]," the source said.

But he was also a creep around the studio, and immediately upon his arrival at the station, began working with then-program director Andy Bloom to plot not just how they were going to take out Missanelli, but their own hosts as well.

From the second he got there, he and Bloom seemed to be making plans, another source close to the situation said. Although he was originally hired as the night guy, it was pretty clear to those at the station that he was actually hired to be the afternoon drive guy. Innes would apparently arrive three or four hours early and listen to old Howard Stern segments from the late 80s and early 90s when he would attack then-WMMR host John DeBella along with Bloom while the two plotted how they were going to go after Missanelli.

He was also known for badmouthing other WIP hosts when he was working at night, a fireable offense at most stations. According to sources, however, this was not only permitted, but was encouraged by Bloom. 

"That just tells you how things were there," he added.

It's part of the reason many at his own station listened to the competition, Missanelli, during Innes' timeslot.

The "when" of the firing is also somewhat important.

As Ryan Lawrence pointed out, Howard Eskin's contract with FOX29 is about to expire.

Either way, it doesn't seem like there's going to be much sleep lost over this one in the local radio community.

"There are a lot of people at 97.5 -- and 94.1 -- that are really happy to see this finally happen," the source added.

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