I Used to Love Thanksgiving
Family? Old friends? Sure. Uh-huh.Yeah.
The reason I loved Thanksgiving is it’d smack me hard in the head soon as we crossed the turgid Susquehanna crawling north on 95 toward Philly from DC. From the moment we’d get to the far side of the bridge ’til we arrived at my sister’s in a burb just north of the city, I could pick up WIP-Sports Radio, the Meanest, Most Low-Down Sports Radio station in the nation.
You New Yorkers think you have the nastiest in WFAN? Fuggeddaboudit. WIP wins and hands-down.
Four pieces of evidence:
When the station comes in clearly on those late November late morning/early afternoon drives, the first Dose of Mean I’ll hear is the annual How I Nearly Blew Up My Mother-In-Law’s Freakin’ House Cooking My Bird, Tales of Turkey-Woe from (exclusively male) callers who willingly submit themselves to the derision of two talk-show jocks who have solicited sad-sack calls from South Philly, Roxborough, Germantown, Kensington, and other Philly-area working-stiff ‘hoods ‘n hamlets.
Last time we spanned the river, I remember Mike and Anthony (“Ant’ny”) yukking it up with (at) guys who recalled blowing up or nearly blowing up their MIL’s row house or tiny, fenced-in development house with pressure-cooked, greased-up and deep-fried Butterballs…in living rooms, garages, on postage-stamp back decks under green-and-white aluminum overhangs, in cellars next to gas heaters, and all the while talking Eagles, Phils, Sixers, and Flyers as JoeySouthPhilly is condemned by the hosts as NoManAtAll, for all sorts of TCIs…Turkey-Chef-Infractions.
I should say here that Ant’ny, while he yuks it up at every Fowl-Foul, his primary, if not only, obligation to the program is to agree instantly with Mike in a growling, very deep, gravelly YEAAAH! and then Mike to George from Manayunk: “Dummie! Whyjaput a Bird, all Crisco’d Up, in a pressure cooker? And then put the Bird on a Gas Grill? What’s wrong with you, man? Don’t you have sense? Feathers all over your momma’s kitchen..?”
“Roofers on emergency call along with Philly FD? Firemen should get a day off too, moron! You’re lucky she didn’t chase you with the carving knife, left you with nothin’ to…you know..to go to, to use the can with…don’t ever let me bet with you, man, on the Sixers or nobody! Dumb as a Freakin’ Rock!”
And like that. All the way north to my sister’s. Precious.
Yet those two are hardly the only reasons I loved Thanksgiving and WIP.
A second reason I adore WIP is that during the winter of ’98-’99 during the NBA Lockout, WIP’s Morning Guys led by Angelo…every day, nearly every hour, shredded the owners and players’ association (and Patrick Ewing its rep) in gut-vicious commentary, poems, and in song. The one I recall most clearly was an ASK, a ‘charity’ ASK for donations to the Players’ Association so they might, in the Holiday Season, maintain the standards of living to which they’d become accustomed and not have to neglect their wives, children, paramours, pimps, whores, and bail bondsmen.
The morning guys played this number, far more grand than a jingle, almost a hymn, hourly, as the Holy Day approached and well into the new year. It brought tears to my eyes on each listening. It would to anyone with an ounce of feeling.
That year, the ’98-’99 Season, was, I believe, WIP’s tenth anniversary year in Sports Radio format and to celebrate the station replayed, dozens of times a day throughout Anniversary Week, a compilation of The Ten Dumbest Calls We’ve Ever Had.
They ranged from guys asking if the Flyers’ old Bobby Clarke had considered wooden teeth to replace the gaps, to women wondering if former Phillies Great Dick (Richie) Allen would allow the station to release his “private, secret phone number”.
Here’s Number One (it was a count-down): Howard E., longtime Philly sports-radio curmudgeon, rarely a good word for anyone, and a late afternoon caller:
H: Yeah? Whaddaya want?
C: Uh. Howard.
C: Uh. Yeah. I mean…am I on the air?
H: What. Do. You. Want. Sir.
C: Uh. You know those blue streaks they got on the TV during the hockey…so’s you can follow the puck?
H: Yeah. What about it?
C: Well. Yeah. I mean. Howard. Don’t you think it distracts the players?
Ten. Second. Pause.
C: Yeah. Don’tcha think it distract the players? The blue line on the TV ya know that follows the puck?
H: Who the hell is this?
H: Sir. Is this a joke? Who is this?
C: No. I mean. Don’t you think it distracts the players??
And like that for ten minutes until:
Sir. You’ve Gotta Be the Damned Dumbest Moron Ever to call this program or this radio station and I mean that’s a Hell of a lotta Damned Dumb Morons.
Angelo and the Morning Team offered free lipo from a local doc for the most moving Queen-For-a-Day-ish caller needing liposuction, in his or her own opinion, more than any other caller. Three dozen callers all with excellent cases to be made get past the screener.
– “I have extra eyeflaps and I keep getting ditched by girls.
” What are…? Nevah Mind.” Click.
-“I weigh 279 down from 301 and I’m on that liquid diet thing the green mulch stuff and I…”
-“I have webbed hands.”
“What? Okay! A Definite Maybe. Wait…this is lipo, not full-range plastic…Nevah Mind.” Click.
And like that for nearly forty calls…UNTIL…
The voice is girlish, sweet, unassuming.
“Hiii. I’m Tina In Wildwood and it’ll be summer sooner than I think and my thiiighs”…
…you can hear the Jocks rustling papers and moving forward in their seats at “thiiighs”…
Tina In Wildwood (NJ) continues, “an’ I have these thighs and I’ll just SAY it, say it RIGHT OUT!– they’re just Too Darn Fat! ‘an all I want, all I ever wanted….”
Angelo: “Yes? Yes, Tina? What is it that is all you ever wanted?”
Tina-In-Wildwood (cooing, snuffling a little):
“All I ever wanted, what I want, Angelo, is that when I’m standing naked in front of my boyfriend, Mike? All I ever want is when I’m standing in front of him naked is for him to see SPACE BETWEEN MY LEGS.”
Angelo: “Hold The Phone! We have a winner! No more calls! Tina-In-Wildwood, you’re GOING to get what you’ve always wanted! You’ve won three liposuction sessions with Dr. _____ in Broomall!”
Now that my sister and her husband have moved to Boston, while the time with them’s fine, the flight’s nothing like that old, great drive north toward Philly.
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