Philadelphia is a city of individuality. The town that gave rise to the practice of liberty is today known for its hard-working and no-nonsense attitude. Residents of the city demand a lot from public figures.
Results are expected. If expectations are not reached, these figures will be swallowed faster than a freshly prepared cheesesteak from Geno’s at a cheesesteak-eating competition.
In Philly, the media plays a crucial role in relaying and echoing the voices and opinions of the public. With the city’s rabid sports-fan population, the sports contingent of the media is often both revered and criticized.
And since the athletic realm is examined more or less under a microscope in this city, it is no surprise that the personalities of both broadcast and print journalism draw such a local interest to the sports teams.
Howard Eskin runs a radio program on 610 WIP from 3 to 7 p.m. every weekday. The man has a gift for controversy and stirring things up. His trademark “tell it like it is” attitude has made both large amounts of fans and enemies (who vow never to listen to the program).
Some might say they're swearing the program off, but they always come back for more. That’s a day in the life of Eskin, who always seems to refer to his callers as “dopes” or “idiots” when he doesn’t agree with what they are saying.
The man knows his sports, however, and that’s why he’s such an interesting character. He's going to tell you how he feels, and like a true Philadelphian, unapologetically.
Ray Didinger is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. He’s been a writer, producer, and radio host. Currently, he’s one of the industry’s best producers of documentaries, not missing or relinquishing any detail or bit of insight on a team's climb to greatness or descent into the cellar.
For NFL Films, he's the leading football historian. He knows every triumph as well as failure in football for the past 50 years, and his Philadelphian roots are widely known, as he's also been a writer for 26 years in the Philadelphia Bulletin. He often gives historic information about what a team has done in the past and compares the accolades to modern gridiron times.
Didinger has a humble demeanor and shows this after Eagles games on Post Game Live, when he tells the city what the team did wrong or right. Another intriguing character in Philadelphia, he's a beloved figure.
Last to be highlighted here but certainly not least is Harry Kalas, the long -ime Phillies broadcaster who started in 1971, a year which is otherwise known in Philadelphia as the "first year of the vet."
The humble man with the awe-inspiring voice was the "voice of summer" in the city. Of course, his famous "It's outta here!" home run call is well-documented, but what isn't is how the man would treat people who came up to say hello that he didn't know.
He was one of the city's adopted souls, born and raised in the Midwest, but he had the hard-working blue collar attitude Phillies fans admired. He would tell the fans when the team played poorly or without passion just as soon as he would when they played well.
A narrator and wordsmith on the diamond, Kalas' ability on behind the mic was perhaps greater than that of any team the Phillies produced in all of his tenure in Philadelphia. When you listened to Kalas, you never lost. His passing sadly brought a close to a great chapter in Phillies baseball.
From Eskin's name-calling to Kalas' home run calls to Didinger's tales of games of football past, Philadelphia has gotten its share of characters in the media. These men have defined how to root for a team.
All of these guys had a talent that has brought Philadelphia closer to the game, for better or for worse.