A Sports Fan With a Plan

One man’s obsession with Philly sports turns into a weekly radio gig.

By F.H. Rubino
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 28 | Posted May. 11, 2010

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Phil Allen

Photo by PW Staff

When Phil from Mount Airy first appeared on these pages two years ago, he was mocking Donovan McNabb for throwing up at the Super Bowl. He was bashing the Phillies brain trust for not locking down Ryan Howard. Generally speaking, he was agonizing over the city’s quarter-century pro-sports championship drought. He felt like Philadelphia’s most obsessed and most frustrated fan. For therapy, he routinely violated 610 WIP’s one-call-per-week-and-one-per-weekend protocol. “I have to call (more than that),” Phil told PW in February 2008. “Sometimes I just can’t take it anymore and I have to call.”

Alas, the silky-toned, street-savvy book wholesaler, known outside sports-talk radio circles as Phil Allen, has ceased calling WIP—but not because McNabb has been traded, Howard has been paid and the Phillies have been thanked enough for winning it all.

Allen’s WIP cord-cutting stems rather from rival sports-talker and ESPN affiliate The Fanatic (97.5 FM/950 AM) giving him a spot on a local show. His debut on the “Jon Marks Show with Mount Airy Phil” was on April 10. A Saturday morning gig, the show is open-forum-style, and runs from 8 to 11 a.m., although Allen wishes he could stay on all day.

“I swear to God I do,” he gushes. “The three hours go by like that (snapping his fingers).”

Munching on a salad inside a Germantown Avenue pizza shop, the married father of five and grandfather of three concedes he’s keeping his day job for now. But he’s more than a little excited about his budding radio career, in part because he believes he’s helping to fill a void. “I’ve always felt there should be an African-American voice (on local sports-talk radio),” he says. “WIP hired (former Eagles) Hugh Douglas and Ike Reese, but why is it that black people can only get jobs in this business if they’re ex-players? I think that’s a slap in the face.”

Shifting back to sports on this first Saturday in May, the slight but wiry 48-year-old, who sports a salt-and-pepper beard and a royal-blue Mount Airy youth baseball cap (he coaches his 9-year-old son Philip’s team), says that last Saturday’s show was supposed to feature his diatribe on why the Sixers shouldn’t rehire ex-coach Larry Brown.

“We talk about whatever’s hot, and that’s what I wanted to talk about,” he says. “Larry Brown was a great coach but he was a horrible personnel guy. I couldn’t get to it, though. Everybody wanted to talk Eagles. So we did, and it was cool.”

Allen says he hasn’t seen any ratings yet, but he’s getting good feedback on the street, where strangers have for years “recognized” him the instant he starts talking.

“I can’t order food without somebody saying, ‘Yo, you that dude be calling up the radio all the time, right?’” he says, laughing. “I love these people. I’m not about calling them morons or dopes or idiots (an obvious reference to longtime WIP rudeboy Howard Eskin). They’re my people.”

Veteran sports-talk jock Mike Missanelli, who hosts The Fanatic’s afternoon drivetime program opposite Eskin and Reese on WIP, thinks Allen has the makings of a good jock.

“He’s not afraid,” Missanelli says. “I think that’s a real key when it comes to sports-talk radio, that you can’t be afraid. You can’t be crazy but you have to have a strong opinion that’s based in logic and facts for people to accept it. And I think he’s pretty good that way. Sometimes he gets a little carried away, but most of the time he’s pretty plugged in.”

Allen, who recalls taking up street hockey after the Flyers thrilled the city by winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in the mid-’70s and writhing in Jacksonville while the Eagles were blowing the ’05 Super Bowl, has not-so-secretly coveted a radio job for years. And he seems a natural considering his wit, exuberant nature and wide-ranging sports knowledge. “I think it’ll be a good outlet for him,” says his wife, Valerie, who earned a doctorate in social work from Penn last week. “He has sports-trivia books all over the house because he’s one of those people who has to know everything. And we hear all of it.”

Now, anyone who cares to can hear Allen’s minutia—and his opinions. Boy, does he have the latter. Consider his take on McNabb, whom the Eagles jettisoned to the Washington Redskins on Easter Sunday: “There’s a huge disconnect between his talent and his balls,” Allen says. “He don’t have ’em. He’s a woman. He don’t have the mentality of a killer. He’d rather discuss it than just pull the trigger.”

On a positive note, Allen predicts new quarterback Kevin Kolb will surprise Eagles fans. “I think he’s gonna be a revelation, I think people are gonna be shocked by this dude. I think he’s gonna light it up.” Although a Super Bowl win has always topped Allen’s wish list, the Phillies ’08 World Series triumph delighted him. Nonetheless, he’s miffed that they traded stud lefty Cliff Lee last winter on the same day they acquired Roy Halladay, ostensibly the best pitcher in baseball.

“We would’ve been the odds-on favorite to win the World Series if we’d kept Lee,” he says. “How could you possibly beat us four times when Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are making four starts? The bottom line with the Phillies is still their bottom line.”

Complaints notwithstanding, Allen’s bottom line is that rooting for the home team is fun. “Having fun is what it’s all about,” he says. “Everybody has an opinion, and I have lots of them. But I’m not about lecturing anybody. The sports fans of this city are my squad. They’re my squad, man.”

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Comments 1 - 28 of 28
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1. jamir cook said... on May 12, 2010 at 08:32AM

“this guy should be on all day he is the TRUE voice of Philly sports and WIP blew it....”

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2. msmith13 said... on May 12, 2010 at 09:38AM

“Yay, Phil!”

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3. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2010 at 10:52AM

“"Phil really deserves that job. He has the passion to make it a huge success. Best Wishes"”

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4. mrbynum said... on May 12, 2010 at 10:56AM

“It's blatantly obvious that you guys at Espn radio have acquired a golden goose, now don't let it get away.”

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5. victoria said... on May 12, 2010 at 01:23PM

“this was way overdue. phil mt airy is by far the funniest, most passionate and knowledgeable sports fan in this city and should have been on WIP years ago while they hired every ex eagle who knew nothng about the city sports teams or its fans. ESPN is smart enough to do the obvious which is rare around here.”

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6. the madbatter said... on May 12, 2010 at 02:24PM

“Mt. Airy Phil is a loudmouth. and the only reason he hates mcnabb is because #5 spurned his advances. HAHA

jk, great article”

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7. Uncle Lloyd said... on May 12, 2010 at 11:57PM

“Living in Washington state, when i heard my nephew was on the radio ihad to jump on the internet to listen, and wow he is the man, i'm very proud to know that he is finally getting his due. and BTW great article”

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8. Ellen Richardson said... on May 15, 2010 at 12:12PM

“Phil is the sports' fan walking encyclopedia. He knows everything there is to know about all Philly sports. Phil, Don't curb your enthusiasm!”

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9. Jimmy Ballparks said... on May 28, 2010 at 04:25PM

Been listening to sports talk is some form for 30 yrs -. You are better than most of the talk hosts. Only thing that stinks about you being on the air for 3 hrs on Saturday is you can't call into 610 and doesn't sound like you call into 97.5 since being on in April. You have great knowledge and deliver it in a witty, point on way. Hope you're on every Saturday. Have a tough time going for one hour against Ray Diddy. You have a standing offer of a couple of Long island Ice Tees if i ever run into you. You're the best ...From a long time 4 for 4 fan...P.S. you should be in the contest.”

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10. Crazy Curt said... on Jun 2, 2010 at 01:00AM

“I listen to WIP & The Fanatic all the time... this guy sounds more like he's auidtioning for a set at the Laugh Factory. Plus he really doesn't have a voice for radio....he's definitely no Paul Jolovitz, thats for sure!!!!

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11. tony g said... on Jun 12, 2010 at 11:58AM

“it's about time Phil got a show. Hopefully,he'll; have a 5-day a week gig one day----go Phil”

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12. Anonymous said... on Jun 12, 2010 at 12:05PM

“It's about time !!!!”

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13. Medhead said... on Oct 14, 2010 at 08:56PM

“Phil has great insight into the philly sports scene. Keep him on the air as long as possible!”

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14. The Pope said... on Nov 21, 2010 at 01:04PM

“Phil is absolutely the man, I want to listen 24/7. He is a cross between Chris Rock and Ray Diddy.”

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15. rob said... on Jan 16, 2011 at 09:43PM

“I find Phil's contribution to my sports weekend fix right on the money! You and your broadcast partner work very well together. Very enjoyable! (thank God You're no Jolovitz)”

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16. chaplainstevens said... on Mar 25, 2011 at 12:51PM

“I enjoy listening to Phil even when he is wrong, he is very passionate about sports, and I agree WIP was STUPID not to hire you, but they seem to like to hire ex-jock that haven't mastered the English language...ie Ike Reese”

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17. Frank Zadlo said... on Apr 23, 2011 at 06:29AM

“Phil, Thank you for your dedication the the youth the Mt. Airy and your baseball coaching. I am Sam's Grandfather and I need to say a few things about throwing a baseball. Unlike in football, throwing a base ball is a dynamic event that requires the activation of the entire body inorder to add speed and acuracy. What none of your platers have been taught is how to engage the rotation of the shoulder which is the eccess to the force of the body. Infielders must, after fielding a grounder pull thge ball into their gut so they are forced torotate the entire arm back wards before getting into the elbow foreward position that you teach. That elbow foreward position is dynamically passed through. it is not a position to take before throwing. That is what you do with a football! Regarding pitching, without shoulder rotation you have what Sammt experienced last week when he could not control the ball. The pitcher uses and exagerated shoulder rotation by dropping the ball down first”

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18. Frank Zadlo said... on Apr 23, 2011 at 06:46AM

“Please watch any major league pitcher. The ball is lowered to or below the waist, the whole arm goes to the rear and then gets up into the throwing position. Without that whole arm rotation the ball is being thrown with a catapult action ie. no control. All of this pitching action is all moving all the time so the foot , when placed at right angle to the line to home plate allows for that foot to be pushed into the ground to create force. The key thing is to get the kids to rotate their entire arm. They are now throwing in what we used to call "throwing like a girl."”

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19. Gary Pitman said... on Oct 3, 2011 at 07:11AM

“Please someone tell me WHY DO YOU LIKE PHIL?!? His voice is annoying and nasled. He is not a broadcaster or journalist. Anyone who went to the Connecticut School of Broadcasting would do a better job than Phil. Why tell me Why is he still on the Air?!?!


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20. Kenny A said... on Oct 8, 2011 at 09:05PM

“Phil is definitely a Philly-based sports intellect who gives a passionate and refreshing perspective own our home teams and abroad.”

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21. Izzy said... on Jan 22, 2012 at 08:12PM

“Phil makes listening to sports radio in Philly a pleasure. You get the impression that a) he watches all the games, b) is genuinely a Philly fan and c) he respects and appreciates the callers. I hope that this new career works out well for him.”

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22. Greg said... on Feb 4, 2012 at 05:06PM

“Phil from Mt Airy is, I think, one of the best, if not THE best on Sports Talk Radio. Knowledgable, principled, respectful and passionate about his field. Wish we had more like him and kudos for 97.5 for brining him on board!”

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23. Greene said... on Feb 5, 2012 at 02:14PM

“I tune in every Sunday morning to listen to him and the other guy (maybe that's marks, I can't remember right now). Doesn't matter, Phil is the color guy (pun intended); he makes the show bright, vivid and fun. Only add more Phil, do not subtract. I would subscribe to a Phil From Mt Airy Podcast as well.”

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24. Mr Fab said... on Feb 8, 2012 at 01:45PM

“You people have got to be kidding me!! You call him passionate but the truth is he's just a loudmouth who knows nothing about sports!! At least twice a show he totally messes up facts or seems to make stats up. He's one of the reasons Philly sports fans get a bad rap. HORRIBLE!!!”

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25. BIG C said... on Feb 25, 2012 at 04:16PM

“I enjoy Phil doing a fine, your getting better all time. No matter who do the sports in this town the E.A.G.L.E.S still won't win a Superbowl. HaHa!”

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26. Bill G said... on Aug 27, 2012 at 02:16PM

“Phil has the perfect combination of sports smarts and Philly passion. He should be on in the AM opposite the WIP clowns, to marginalize them.”

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27. E from new york said... on Apr 27, 2013 at 07:19PM

“I have to say that I am no fan of this guy. I've been a resident of the Philadelphia area for quite sometime now, and a new listener to the fanatic family. And I must say, dudes voice is the worst! it's a twist between nasal , congested and straight up annoying . And as far as a caller getting a word in edge wise....forget it. I wish him the best, but as far as listening to his show.....I'll pass.”

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28. E from new york said... on Apr 27, 2013 at 07:31PM

“I have to say that I am no fan of this guy. I've been a resident of the Philadelphia area for quite sometime now, and a new listener to the fanatic family. And I must say, dudes voice is the worst! it's a twist between nasal , congested and straight up annoying . And as far as a caller getting a word in edge wise....forget it. I wish him the best, but as far as listening to his show.....I'll pass.”


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