Fanatic host returns tomorrow after assault charge, alcohol treatment

Tom Byrne, host at 97.5 the Fanatic, returns to the sports-radio station at 9 p.m. tomorrow for the first time since his arrest Jan. 16 for a late-night assault on a cab driver in Center City.

In an exclusive interview Friday, Byrne told us he has been involved in an alcohol recovery program since his arrest and has been sober since Jan. 17. Byrne, 31, said he could not discuss the incident for which he faces a preliminary hearing April 17 on charges of assault and robbery, over allegedly stiffing the driver a $5 fare. But he made it clear that he messed up.

"I put myself in a horrendous position and now I am going about making the proper changes in my life and getting the appropriate help to make sure I never do anything like this again," Byrne told us at the Fanatic's Bala Cynwyd studio. "I'm in a recovery program from which I am learning a ton. I look forward to working with people in a similar position."

Byrne plans to address the situtation on the air and field calls about it. "I do plan on being blunt with people and respecting their opinions on what happened," Byrne said. "I know a lot of people are disappointed in me. I just hope they give me a chance to show that I'm not what they read. I want people to see this guy is truly contrite, he's remorseful for what happened," said the Fairless Hills native and Conwell-Egan Catholic High School graduate.

Fanatic program director Matt Nahigian said that before Byrne's arrest he had been a model employee who deserved a second chance. "What he did was absolutely unacceptable. He knows that, everybody knows that," Nahigian said Friday. "He was relieved of his shift for over a month. It's now up to him to win back his listeners and I'm going to give him that opportunity. I know he's going to take full advantage of it."

"I know I'm blessed. There are a lot of places that wouldn't allow somebody back," Byrne said. "It's up to me now not to make them look bad. I'm 100 percent confident that if I continue with my treatment, which I'm going to, that they will not regret it."

Byrne will host 9-to-midnight weekdays, a change but in no way a demotion from his old 7-to-10 slot as his show will compete far less often with Sixers and Flyers or college games.