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May 27, 2020

Mike Missanelli throws headset, berates producer over birdwatch lady argument (update)

Radio Television
070117_Mike-Miss-1 Joseph Santoliquito/for PhillyVoice

Mike Missanelli during his 97.5 The Fanatic afternoon drive show.

UPDATE [Wednesday, 2:14 p.m.] — A day after getting into a heated argument on air with his producers, 97.5 The Fanatic afternoon host Mike Missanelli was absent from his chair on Wednesday. You can read more about it below ...

A woman who called the cops on a New York City birdwatcher appears to be at the center of an argument that enraged Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic, prompting him to throw his headset and scream at his producer on Tuesday's simulcast episode of The Mike Missanelli Show.

Over the weekend, a woman named Amy Cooper was caught on camera making false allegations about Christian Cooper (unrelated), calling the police from Central Park and alleging she was being threatened. The dispute centered around Amy Cooper not having her dog on a leash in an area of the park frequented by birdwatchers like Christian Cooper. Video of the exchange went viral over the weekend, with Amy Cooper eventually losing her job at investment company Franklin Templeton.

"Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately," the company said on Twitter. "We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton."

Without sports to discuss (unless you're into German soccer or Korean baseball), the birdwatching topic came up on Tuesday's episode of The Mike Missanelli Show. This led what appears to be a dispute between Missanelli, producer Tyrone Johnson, and sports update anchor Natalie Egenolf. With Johnson and Egenolf seemingly aligned on the subject, Missanelli played the contrarian role to the anger of his co-hosts.

"You're looking at it like a layperson and I'm looking at it like an attorney," Missanelli said to Johnson and Egenolf prior to the argument escalating.

After repeated pleas from his co-hosts, Missanelli's tone and demeanor pivots quickly at the end of the segment, with Missanelli throwing his headset across the studio as the show just before the broadcast cuts to commercial.

Following the ensuing commercial break, Johnson and Missanelli appear to continue their disagreement, with Missanelli pointing a finger and appearing to curse at his producer before the show goes back on the airwaves.

PhillyVoice reached out to multiple parties in the aftermath of the incident, and employees at the station say there was no prior incident that led to the altercation between Johnson and Missanelli.

"Mike tried to pull the, 'I'm a lawyer' shit. Tyrone then read him the actual law," one station employee said to PhillyVoice on Tuesday evening. "Natalie is agreeing with [Tyrone], so now Mike has been embarrassed and has the rest of his show 'ganging' up on him. And he threw a temper tantrum because he's a f**king child."

On Wednesday, Missanelli was notably absent from the host's chair, with Tyrone Johnson filling in for reasons that have not yet been determined. During the show's open, Johnson began the show by introducing a "Seasame Street style" word of the day, landing on the word "petty" to set the tone for the day without Missanelli. 

An official request for comment from the station had not yet been returned at the time of publishing. It is unclear if Missanelli voluntarily took the day off or if his absence is the result of a mandate.

Missanelli, a popular figure in local sports radio, has had several notable dust-ups in the past involving members of his radio shows. Previously employed by 94.1 WIP (610 AM at the time), Missanelli was let go in 2006 as a result of a well-publicized fight with producer Brian Robbins, who he reportedly hit during a remote broadcast in Ardmore. Since moving to the simulcast format, Missanelli has also had some awkward on-air moments with Johnson specifically.

PhillyVoice's Matt Mullin contributed to this story. 

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