Print journalist, pundit and noted Philadelphian H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger best known for his football tome, Friday Night Lights, has a brand new job – in a new medium: Talk radio host.
Local CBS station Talk Radio 1210 WPHT (1210-AM) on Monday announced that Bissinger, 57, will take the wheel at the station’s afternoon drive show (from 3 to 7 p.m. daily) with co-host Steve Martorano.
A former Inquirer reporter, Bissinger won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for a six-part Inquirer series in 1987 which uncovered corruption in Philadelphia court system.
Bissinger tells us he got his first taste of radio last year when WPHT asked him to act as a vacation replacement for some of the station’s regular hosts.
He’s excited about working in a new, fresh medium.
“This will be my first regular full-time gig on radio,” says Bissinger who left the Inquirer in 1988. “Actually [it’ll be] my first time I’ve worked for someone in 20 years.”
Bissinger says WPHT suits had two concerns before hiring him.
“First thing they asked me was, ‘are you actually going to show up for work’,” he says. They also asked Bissinger, who is generous with his use of four-letter words in his Twitter invectives, if he could keep his language clean.
“Obviously I will not be using colorful and salty language,” he says with obvious rue.
Bissinger says he and Martorano hope to make their show an open forum for anything and everything that will be “informative and also entertaining.”
He adds, “I mean obviously in a show like this we will talk about politics, it’s a presidential election [year], but everything is fair game and we’ll talk about local issues and offbeat topics. … We will have lots of guests … and we will certainly encourage call-ins.”
A vocal, opinionated pundit, Bissinger will be a big gun for WHPT in its coverage of the presidential election, CBS Radio Philadelphia senior veep Marc Rayfield says in a statement.
“With the Presidential election only a few months away, there couldn’t be a better time to heighten our focus on how today’s issues affect our friends, relatives and neighbors,” he says.
“The addition of Buzz to the line-up and presenting Michael’s program live to the audience gives us an incredible advantage as a station created in Philadelphia by Philadelphians for Philadelphians.”
Bissinger, who currently works as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and a columnist at the Daily Beast, has been making the media rounds in recent weeks to promote his new book Father's Day, a memoir about his son Zach.
He is famous for his never less-than-passionate and forceful discursive style as a pundit. (Okay, so some people call him a “loudmouth.” (“A nationally renowned loudmouth,” as that scintillating daily newspaper Metro puts it.)
Bissinger considers that appellation, “loudmouth,” for a few seconds, then says, “If I am a loudmouth, then I am perfect for radio.”
He doesn’t apologize for his sometimes explosive opinions.
“I do have strong opinions about virtually anything,” he says, “it doesn’t take to get me passionate about something, but I think that’s the hey to anything: To be passionate.”
The Bissinger hire is part of a programming overhaul at WPHT. The weekday roster will now look like this:
Chris Stigall from 5:30 to 9:00 a.m.; Dom Giordano from 9 a.m. to noon; and Michael Smerconish from noon to 3 p.m.
WPHT's new daytime lineup takes effect on June 25.