Talk about needing to vent.
Since its launch in the Google Play store on Feb. 1 to give frustrated sports fans a place to blow off some steam, the SportsVenting app isn't exactly setting records for downloads — about 1,000.
But like diehard Phillies and Eagles fans who maintain their loyalty even when the teams stink, SportsVenting's Philadelphia-area creators aren't giving up on the fertile field of complaints. They're just shifting their focus to where those with strong sports opinions have long aired them: the radio.
The SportsVenting Radio Show will debut this Friday — a day after the Eagles' first preseason game (uh-oh) — from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 610-AM ESPN Radio. Featuring "Frustrated Phil" and "the Woz" in a live call-in format, it will air each Friday at that hour.
"We can't curse," said Frustrated Phil a.k.a. Jeff Phillips, 46, of Jamison, Bucks County, SportsVenting's founder and president. "If a caller gets out of hand, I may call him an idiot. I'm allowed to use the word idiot."
His cohost is Tim Wozniak, of Huntingdon Valley, director of operations at SportsVenting.
Landing the gig — guaranteed by contract for one year, Phillips said — didn't involve proof of on-air savvy or legions of followers. It did require dough.
"We had to pay $450 per week to do this show," said Phillips, who was a radio/television/film major at Temple University with a plan to become a sports broadcaster. He wound up following a more practical road in medical sales.
A middle-of-the-night brainstorm led to him buying the SportsVenting domain name for $16.99 about two years ago and, with friends since middle school in Northeast Philadelphia — Wozniak and Dan Bagelle — started working on the app in between their day jobs. After 21 years in finance, Wozniak, 47, is teaching in the Abington School District; Bagelle, 46, of Mount Laurel, SportsVenting's director of promotions, works for a collections agency.
Their free app enables users to post pictures and videos of themselves or others letting out their frustrations over their favorite teams or trash talking those they detest. Why there haven't been more downloads Wozniak attributed to the app's availability only for Android devices. "We're dying to get on the iPhone platform," he said. But a Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 to help do that attracted just $371.
Which is why hiring a brand ambassador "is our No. 1 priority right now," Bagelle said, adding that will "make it easier to get an iOS platform and TV contract."
TV? They plan to videotape the radio show for Facebook and use that "like an audition" for television, and to promote the app, Bagelle said. SportsVenting so far has produced 24 videos for Facebook, averaging 4,500 to 6,500 views. They're on YouTube, too.
But first things first. At the end of this week, Frustrated Phil and the Woz have to fill their first hour of radio air.
"I already know that I'm going to blast preseason football and how bad it is. It's awful to watch," said Phillips, an Eagles season-ticket holder. "It's going to be very easy to fill up that hour."
Spoken like a pro.
"I have been on the radio — 20 years ago," said the former WBCB overnight DJ. That gig involved "reading the [name of the] next song and reading the news updates."
SportsVenting's appeal as a radio show was instantly obvious to Barry Reisman, account manager for ESPN Sports 610.
"It's fresh, exciting, fun, and a unique approach to Philly sports," he said. "Every radio station is always looking for something different — and SportsVenting is certainly very different. I think the program will be must listening for any Philly sports fan and will attract lots of new listeners to our radio station."