Friday, November 2, 2007

Non-Disgruntled Fan Calls Sports Talk Radio Just To Say Hi

Philadelphia, PA (Nov. 2) - Sports talk radio was reeling yesterday upon the news that a caller dialed a Philadelphia station and had no agenda, harbored no ill will, and didn't want to complain about any of the city's teams.

"I...need a few moments," a clearly shaken Mark Syphers, co-host of Philadelphia's "Syphers and Jenkins" afternoon drive time show on WGFR-AM, said to his listeners after 28-year-old Eagles fan Jeremy Moore's phone call.

Moore called and said he enjoyed listening to the show. Syphers then waited for the expected complaint, beef, or unsolicited suggestion to help fix the Eagles.

But instead, Moore simply announced his fondness for the show and said, "So I just wanted to say Hi and I'll keep listening."

Syphers thought the call was a put-on.

"I told the guy, 'Dude, it's OK. You can tell me what you really want to say.' But he kept insisting all he wanted to do was tell us how much he liked our show.

"His demeanor was pleasant, upbeat, and completely free of ill will," Syphers continued, still plainly stunned, even some three hours later. On the air in the moments after Moore's stunning call, Syphers announced, in a halting voice, that there would be an extended commercial break while he gathered himself.

News of Moore's call spread like wildfire through the sports talk radio industry.

"I hope this is just a fluke," said Elliott Bernstein, programming manager at KTRS radio in Seattle, an all-sports station. "The thing we're most afraid of in the business is a rash of 'copy cat' callers. There are a lot of nuts out there."

Moore, reached at his home later, offered little explanation for his brazen act, which has only added to the frustration and lack of closure by those in sports talk radio.

"Yes, the Eagles are struggling," Moore said, "but I just decided to call on a whim. Honestly."

Moore then denied accusations that his nice, bitch-free phone call was rehearsed and planned.

Syphers warned others that calls similar to Moore's will not be tolerated on his program, and he urged other hosts to issue the same edicts.

"He could have at least suggested a Phillies trade or poked some fun at the 76ers. But no -- this guy was calculating. He had absolutely no intention of being negative in any way, shape, or form. He sure fooled our screeners, I'll say that much."

But Moore said all he told the screener was, "I just want to tell Mark 'Good show.' Apparently the screener thought that was a euphemism for something sarcastic."

Industry analysts predicted screeners and producers will clamp down on any phone call that even hints at being not negative, as a result of the breach that allowed Moore to get on the air without anything bad to say.

Syphers said that he lost his own ability to second-guess and mock for "several hours" while he struggled to process Moore's 22-second call.

"I'll tell you what," Syphers said, head shaking. "If I EVER take another phone call like that it will be too soon."

Moore apologized for all the "hub-bub", but that gesture only served as insult to the industry's injury.

"Great. It's not bad enough that he called and was nice on the air," an e-mail to Syphers's station read. "Then he apologizes! This guy's sadistic!"

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