Howard Eskin made the surprising announcement Monday that he is leaving his 3-to-7 slot on WIP next month, although he will stay with the station as a contributor.
Say what you will about Eskin- judging by his radio persona, he’s a blowhard with a tired schtick and nothing but contempt for his audience, a Phil Mushnick figure who stopped enjoying sports decades ago but still feels the need to work in it, and a shameless shill and apologist for Andy Reid and Eagles management.
But I’m not going to lie- I enjoyed his show, and have listened to it on the way home almost every workday of my six years here. Sure, I often found myself yelling at the radio, but there was something about Eskin’s willingness to actually tell the idiot callers that they’re idiot callers, when most other hosts on the station would indulge asinine points and sometimes even agree with them. And while the Eagles shilling was a bit much, his position was closer to the truth that of every other host on the station- that the Eagles are run by an evil, pinny-pinching conspiracy. Even four hours of Eskin at his worst was preferable to two minutes of Angelo Cataldi.
The host’s time was probably about done. He’d been starting to lose in the ratings to Mike Missanelli, while sticking him with Ike Reese for the last two years was a disaster- the two had zero chemistry and no reason for being on the air together. He’d also been picking petty fights- such as when he went apeshit about Roy Halladay not agreeing to an interview during an offseason autograph signing- and his full-throated, uninformed backing of the ownership side during the NFL lockout was especially embarrassing.
Eskin has been getting more of a national profile, occasionally guest-hosting Dan Patrick’s syndicated show, and he’s hinted that more of that is to come after he gives up the WIP shift. But this makes no sense- Eskin’s connections and expertise is all local, and not only does he seem to not care in the slightest about national story, but he has vocal hatred of everything from Peyton Manning to LeBron James to fantasy football to sports blogs.
The show was always best after a bad Eagles loss, with the callers crushing Reid and Eskin arguing back. My favorite moment ever was one night in November 2008, during a team cold streak. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
Howard Eskin, whose Andy Reid-backing world is now crashing down all around him, spent his show Tuesday snapping at every single caller, as usual. But then, right before signing off at 7, a caller said something along the lines of “don’t cut me off like you did everyone else,” so Eskin snapped back, “all right, if you can do the show so much better, have at it.”
So the guy went on for 3-4 minutes, mostly saying everything that every other caller on both Philly stations has been repeating for the past 10 days, while Eskin stayed conspicuously silent. This went on until the guy ran out of things to say- at which point the host proceeded to yell at the guy for 3-4 minutes himself.
Here’s a runner-up, which foreshadowed Jim Thome signing with the Twins by almost five years.
Here’s an archive of this blog’s many Eskin stories. And the press release announcing the move not only buries the lead, but seems almost in denial of it.