Whether you love him or hate him, Angelo Cataldi is sticking around, at least for a few more years.
The longtime 94.1 WIP morning show host and former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, whose tenure at the station dates to 1989, recently signed a new multi-year contract that will keep him on the air talking Philadelphia sports and other nonsense well into the next decade.
It’s no surprise why WIP would want to keep Cataldi around and paired up with longtime co-hosts Rhea Hughes and Al Morganti — the show remains a ratings juggernaut. But according to Cataldi, there’s really one person fans can thank for keeping him on their air this time around: Marc Farzetta, a former colleague who left WIP in 2018 to host the morning show on rival 97.5 The Fanatic.
“I think it’s safe to say I would have retired by now if he had stayed,” Cataldi said of Farzetta, who accepted the position at The Fanatic while on a break from WIP to focus on the now-canceled NBC Sports Philadelphia show Philly Sports Talk. More than a year later, Cataldi didn’t hide feeling betrayed by Farzetta’s departure, noting he “wasn’t pleased with the way it ended.” And Cataldi made clear that Farzetta would have been his choice to ultimately replace him.
“Whether or not he would have gotten the opportunity, it wasn’t my say,” Cataldi said. “But I kind of groomed him for 13 years. So when he left, it was like, ‘That plan isn’t going to work.’”
Playing a lesser role in Cataldi’s decision to remain on the air was Mike Francesa, the longtime afternoon host on sister station WFAN in New York City. Francesa famously retired, then unretired, only to return to lower ratings and ridicule. In 2018, following the Eagles Super Bowl victory, Francesca appeared on WIP and said something that stuck with Cataldi.
“He came on the show while he was still retired, and out of nowhere, he said, ‘Before you retire, you’d better think about it. It’s not such a great thing.’ He said that on the air!" Cataldi recalled. “It absolutely had a bearing on my thinking about what I was going to do if I retired."
Cataldi spoke to The Inquirer about his longevity, the hosts he thinks could eventually replace him, and how he assesses his own skills as he gets older. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Since I started covering sports media for The Inquirer, I’ve heard that you’re contemplating retirement, but you end up staying on.
"Every year I am retiring, and then I don’t.
You know what it is? I ponder what I would do next, and I say, ‘Well, I don’t think there’s anything I’d would do that I’d enjoy more than this, so why don’t I keep going a while more?’ It’ll be 30 years in January. The people from Entercom said, ‘Let’s keep going’ and I went, ‘I don’t have a good reason not to.’ So we did another deal."
At some point you’ve got to make way for the next guy. Are you attempting to mentor anyone internally?
"I really tried to do that. Farzetta was kind-of my hand picked guy for a very long time. And then he left to go on his own, so that plan went awry. Now I’m championing a couple other guys that are great at the station.
I love that role because I feel a great debt to WIP and the opportunity [former co-owner] Tom Brookshier gave me a very long time ago. Whatever I can do to help keep WIP on top, I want to do. I would like to know when I leave, there’s somebody there that can maintain what we started."
Who are some of the candidates you think have the potential to replace you?
"[Program director] Spike Eskin has done a really great job of taking people — even personalities from other stations — and developing them further. Our midday guys [Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie] are highly capable of moving to the morning. Our Afternoon guys [Jon Marks and Ike Reese], if they want really lousy hours, could definitely do the job, too.
Joe Giglio is a regular on my show. He’s really got down the whole provocateur thing. He’s great at that. I’ve been working with Jon Johnson as a replacement when I’m not there because I really like the way he does things. I think he has great potential."
How do you explain your longevity in a business where turnover appears to be the norm?
"I don’t really have a lot to do with it. Honestly, I really don’t. … This city is so darn loyal to people, more than anywhere you could ever find. Merrill Reese has been the voice of the Eagles for 47 years. Harry Kalas was here forever, and more beloved at the end of his career than at any point in his tenure. Jim Gardner on Channel 6 — how long has he been in this city? It’s like it’s trapped in time.
I’m positive that’s the No. 1 reason. It isn’t anything great I’m doing. It’s the fact I came around at the right time, a lot of them heard me when they were younger, and they’re loyal to me."
A couple weeks ago, you got in some digs against Fox Sports announcer Dick Stockton.
"I thought the whole thing was so much fun, because I really do think he’s terrible. I’m sure he was offended by it, and he should’ve been. And if he wants to come back and say I’m a horrible person, he’s got a good case to build on that.
But it brings up the question: As you get older and continue on the job, how do you know when your skills are weakening?
"I monitor it. I swear to God I monitor it all the time. Like when I suddenly can’t come up with a name, I think, ‘Is it because I’m getting older? Am I losing it?' ... What I try to do is every day, more than I did 10 years ago or 20 years ago, I prep even more for the show, in case I feel like there’s something that not quite what it was before.
I don’t feel any different. But I look at other people and go, ‘They’re not as good. Maybe that’s me, too.’ I don’t know. I can’t be the judge of that. … The day I’m done, who I can complain to? I’ve had a ridiculously long run. I have no complaints, no matter what happens in the future. I’ve gotten the best deal you could hope to get."