August 23, 2016
The beginning of Mike Missanelli’s Tuesday afternoon show on 97.5 The Fanatic was highly anticipated for reasons that had little to do with the Eagles or anything else in the Philly sports scene. The inner workings of the program itself had been in the news over the past 24 hours.
On Monday, Crossing Broad ran a story that claimed regular Missanelli caller “Dwayne From Swedesboro,” who is black, was actually Pat Egan, a white producer at the station. That original story was picked up by national outlets such as Deadspin and the New York Post.
The story was true, and “Dwayne From Swedesboro” was a character created for entertainment value. And according to Missanelli, Egan, and Jason Myrteus (who co-hosts and produces Missanelli’s show), Missanelli thought he was talking to a real person.
“I had no idea that this wasn’t an authentic part of the show,” he said on Tuesday’s show. “Like I wasn’t playing along with a bit to fool the public. Other people were, and I was duped just like all of the people that were listening.”
Myrteus and Egan said that the character, who they believed was well received by the station’s audience for his on-air chemistry with Missanelli, was an inside joke among some of 97.5’s staffers.
“It became a running joke the fact you didn’t know,” Egan told Missanelli. “That’s kind of why we kept doing it. I would do the call right behind you and you had no idea. Then I would walk right by you as you were commenting on the call.”
Of course, the idea of promoting a fake caller is only a small part of the controversy. The idea of a white producer creating what Crossing Broad called “a stereotypical black guy with paternity test problems” is sure to be offensive to some, if not many, of the station's black callers.
Bomani Jones, who hosts a national show on ESPN Radio, voiced his displeasure with Egan’s fictional caller and his subsequent explanation on Twitter:
so his argument is that the character isn't racist. it's just the exact opposite of him. https://t.co/TdsFun90DA— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) August 23, 2016
.@pat_egan but making ✌🏽️dwayne✌🏽️ a fiend for white women is where your terrible lie falls apart. just own this, apologize and move on.— El Flaco (@bomani_jones) August 23, 2016
Missanelli and Myrteus briefly commented on the idea of promoting negative stereotypes at the beginning of Tuesday’s show.
“If anybody was offended on racial angles, I sincerely apologize on behalf of my brethren and co-workers here at 97.5 who permitted it to go on,” Missanelli said.
“If you were entertained and enjoyed it, I’m glad that you were entertained and enjoyed it,” Myrteus said. “If you were offended, it was not our intention to [promote] any stereotype or anything. And if that is the case, you have my sincere apology as well. We’re just trying to have fun and be entertaining.”
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann