97.5 The Fanatic had listeners scratching their heads Friday afternoon when ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith came on the air following a commercial break during the station’s midday show.
No, The Fanatic isn’t replacing midday hosts Anthony Gargano and Jason Myrtetus with the former Inquirer columnist’s ESPN Radio show. There was a surprise fire drill at the station’s offices in Bala Cynwyd, which forced the entire building to evacuate, radio show hosts and all.
Eric Johnson, The Fanatic’s station manager, said it was the first time in his 35-year radio career that a fire drill forced a live show off the air.
“We’ve had planned fire drills. And during those the show are generally allowed to remain in studio," Johnson said. “But in this one, since we didn’t expect it... everyone had to leave.”
Fortunately, Gargano and Myrtetus were only off the air a few minutes before being allowed to re-enter the building. But with long lines for the building’s elevators, the hosts climbed four flights of stairs before returning to the studio, leaving them a bit out of breath.
Earlier this week, longtime Kansas City radio host Kevin Kietzman faced widespread backlash after evoking the death of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s oldest son. Now Kietzman is out of the job.
In a Friday statement, Union Broadcasting President Chad Boeger said Kietzman and Sports Radio 810 WHB had “mutually agreed” to part ways.
“We would like to thank Kevin for his dedicated service over the last 22 years,” Boeger said. “Kevin has been a valuable member of the Sports Radio 810 WHB team. We wish him all the best on his future endeavors and good luck moving forward.”
Kietzman — who said the former Eagles coach’s lack of discipline “did not work out particularly well in his family life" — denied his comments were intended to invoke the 2012 overdose death of Reid’s oldest don, Garrett. Despite that, Kietzman drew near-universal scorn from television personalities and fellow radio pundits for invoking Reid’s personal live as part of a sports rant in the first place.
Kietzman apologized to Reid and his listeners following the backlash, saying in a recording shared on social media that he understood how his comments could be “interpreted by many as hurtful, insensitive and cold." But by then, some had begun boycotting 810 WHB, and the controversy proved too heated for Kietzman to remain at the station he helped purchase back in 1999.
“Kietzman was an institution in Kansas City sports and it was all undone in 25 seconds,” Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com wrote on Twitter. "Words matter. Spoken, written, typed, whatever. Choose them carefully.”
Gritty must be green with envy.
While the Flyers mascot was busy dealing with a Philly Pride Parade mix-up, the Phillie Phanatic was up in Secaucus, N.J., filming a new commercial for the MLB Network.
The 15-second spot might be a bit on the nose, with the Phanatic eying a sad looking lunch inside the MLB Network’s cafeteria (conveniently labeled “Philly Cheesesteak” if you were confused). Surprisingly, the real star of the commercial is MLB Network host and former Phillies pitcher Dan Plesac, who put real effort into his Phanatic pelvic thrust.
• ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser announced on his podcast Friday he would be closing Chatter, the Washington D.C. restaurant he’s owned for two years. The news was greeted with a bit of a jab by Norman Chad, the co-host of ESPN’s World Series of Poker telecast and once a frequent guest on Kornheiser’s popular show, Pardon the Interruption.
• Francis Ellis, a writer for Barstool Sports and co-host of Barstool Breakfast, was fired after publishing a story, which was quickly deleted, making light of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck, who went missing in mid-June but was confirmed dead in a press conference on Friday.
The headline on that story: “College Student Mackenzie Lueck, Fan Of Call Her Daddy And Proud Sugar Baby, Still Missing; Sorority Sisters Hopeful Due To Her Recent Instagram Activity"