Angelo Cataldi went from sportswriter at the Philadelphia Inquirer to part-time radio talk show host 30 years ago when WIP, then on the AM band, went sports in 1988. Despite no radio experience, Cataldi went from hosting a one-hour program to anchoring morning drive, where he continues today. Known as much for his “Angelo-isms” as for helping conceive the station’s infamous Wing Bowl event, Cataldi has become a fixture on Philadelphia morning radio.
When/how did you get the "radio bug?"
I was working as a sports writer at The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1988 when WIP changed its format to sports and needed people to fill some time slots. Despite having no experience, I loved being in front of the microphone from the very first minute.
What/where was your first radio job and how much were you making?
My first radio job was at the only station I have ever worked at, WIP, as a part-time host weekdays from 9-10am. I made $75 per show.
You’ve had a lot of competitors come after you, including some you mentored, but you remain tops in your format and near the top in the entire market. What’s the secret to your longevity?
Two things. First, you always have to out-work the other guy. I don't have a job; I live one. And second, you have to love it. Otherwise, eventually you will find excuses to cut corners. Listeners can always tell whether or not you're prepared for a show, and they always know if you love doing it.
Who would you like to co-host a show with?
I can't imagine anyone better than the people I have been with for the last 20 years, Al Morganti and Rhea Hughes.
If I had to pick someone from the outside, I guess it would be somebody really funny, like Sebastian Maniscalco or Chris Rock.
What’s show prep for you?
I spend pretty much every waking hour thinking about the next show. I get up at 3 a.m., review all of the sports events of the previous night and then head in to the studio. There, I incorporate all of the breaking sports news with the stuff I accumulated the previous day – pop culture, trends that matter to my demographic and personal issues. I then go through all of the sound bites that apply to that agenda before performing from 6-10 a.m. When I get home, I start hunting on the internet for the next day's material. I'm in bed by 5:30, with lights out by 6:30.
What keeps your career fun and fresh?
By far, it's the humor. Finding things in sports that we can all laugh about is the goal every day. Of course, one of our teams winning a championship, like the Eagles did last season, is not bad either.
What will you miss most and least about Wing Bowl?
I will miss the way Wing Bowl took “Average Joe’s” and made them stars, at least for a fleeting moment. I will never miss the pressure of filling an arena once a year and putting on a show worthy of 20,000 people.
Is there something that will replace it?
Not that I know of. There is nothing that could ever replace the biggest annual radio promotion in Philadelphia history. I don't think we should even try.
What's your favorite charity?
The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Survivors Fund. It is where we sent a big check from Wing Bowl every year.
What's the most unique or unusual call you've ever received on air?
One time, many years ago, a caller got into a fender-bender while on the air. He said, “Oops, I've got to hang up.” About half an hour later, he actually called back and tried to resume his sports point from the previous call. Of course, first I demanded that he explain what happened in the accident. He was OK, of course.
Has the bro talk of sports radio had to change/adjust to #MeToo era?
Yes, it has. Nowadays, lots of the sexist, boys-being-boys chatter is over. No leering over beautiful women, no objectifying female callers, none of the things that once were a regular part of our show and many others. We have all evolved, which is a good thing.
What advice do you have for up and coming talent?
Never give up. Most people running stations have long lists of young talent who are desperate for jobs. Do whatever it takes to get in the door, then out-work everyone else, and go to school on what works in your format. If you don't want it more than the next guy, you will never get the job. Be relentless.
Does it make you nervous that Entercom CEO David Field is a big sports fans who listens to your show?
Quite the opposite. My brief experience with David Field suggests that he understands radio as well as anyone I have ever worked for. Even if he strongly disagrees with a sports opinion I offer, I'm confident that he would understand why I feel it is good fodder for a sports-radio talk show.
What else would you like readers to know?
As I near my 30th anniversary at WIP, I want everyone to know what a privilege it is to get to do the job I do every day. I will never lose sight of how the listeners have graced me with their loyalty and their engagement for those four hours I share with them every weekday. I will carry this gratitude with me for the rest of my life.