Meet Phil from Mt. Airy, the rare enlightened sports-radio caller.
Cohen does impersonations. "He thinks he can do them but he can't," corrects Gargano. "That's what's funny. He calls and imitates Elvira from Scarface and [Fox football sideline reporter] Tony Siragusa."
"Once in a while I get off a good one," Cohen counters. "I do lines from The Godfather too."
Olney's Michael Mitchell, aka "Mike the Weasel," also calls the midday show weekly. He's a disabled 49-year-old father of three. Allen knows him, and attests that he's a responsible person.
Nonetheless, "the Weasel" once stole a traffic light from the intersection of 17th Street and Belfield Avenue. "I was DJing, and I used it in my light show," he explains.
He wanted to confess to Gargano and Martorano one afternoon but couldn't. "The line just stayed busy," he says. "They were asking whether anybody ever stole a street sign."
Even amid such characters, Phil from Mt. Airy stands out. "He does," says Martorano. "Phil has a certain panache."
And quite a history.
Phil grew up on 61st Street in West Philly, in a crowded row house headed by his mother. "My dad disappeared in the middle of the night," he says. "My mom raised six of us by herself."
The family was poor. Phil slept on a mattress, and he rarely had more than small change in his pocket. But that didn't stop him from finagling his way into Veterans Stadium every summer to watch Phillies games.
"Back then, general admission seats were 50 cents for kids accompanied by adults," he remembers. "So you'd go up to some dude in line and ask him to pretend you were with him. I saw Lefty Carlton and Mike Schmidt for 50 cents."
Phil entered Overbrook High in 1975 but dropped out after his sophomore year and eventually joined the Navy. After basic training he found himself on a sprawling naval air station in Jacksonville. He was only 17, and his future looked promising.
But Phil's first encounter with Jacksonville turned out even worse than the Super Bowl jaunt.
The trouble started when Phil's supervisor in the station's finance office showed him how to conjure up fictitious sailors and dispatch their paperwork to a central computer in Cleveland. Checks arrived for the ghosts. Phil cashed a few.
Quite a few.
"I hit 'em for a couple hundred thousand," he says. "I had a brand-new car, a condo on the beach, a different chick every night. I don't like to make excuses, but I grew up dead broke. When somebody showed me how to make $1,000 in a day, I was in."
After the Naval Criminal Investigative Service cracked the scam, Phil was "in" once again. But this time that translated to a two-and-a-half-year federal prison sentence.
After his release he sold timeshares, cell phones and other legitimate products before landing in the book trade, which has treated him well. He also attended college, earning a B.A. in social services from Temple. Along the way he met Valerie Dorsey. They married on Sept. 3, 1994.
"When you meet Phil, you don't forget him," Valerie says of her husband.
"Without her I'd probably be homeless, riding the subway with a PlayStation," Phil says of his wife.
Today he's the quintessential family guy, renovating the house, attending Kendall's dance performances, coaching Philip's little league team, and staying in touch with his grown daughters Vanity, Victoria and Lauren. He also helps manage a foundation, Friends and Family of Adrienne Carla Allen (www.active.com/donate/lupusloop2007/mtairyphil), dedicated to his younger sister who died of lupus 20 years ago.
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Dinner with Luke Palladino