Inqlings | Another survivor eatery bows out

"It's the time," Astral Plane owner Reed Apaghian, a glassblower in his off-hours, says. "I'm going to move on with my life. At my age [58], I'm ready for a transition. Maybe work on my gray hair."

Sunday brunch today marks the end of a 34-year trip around the cosmos for the restaurant - arguably the kitschiest kitchen in town and one of the few survivors of Philly's so-called 1970s Restaurant Renaissance, whose roster once included Frog, Fishmarket, Judy's Cafe, and the Knave of Hearts. ("That's a little scary," says Weaver Lilley, whose Friday Saturday Sunday, which opened three months before, is still going strong off Rittenhouse Square.)

Apaghian, planning a farewell party July 14 to toast his regulars and the romantics who've gotten engaged there, has put 1706-08 Lombard St. on the market for $1.75 million, with liquor license, equipment, and furnishings, including the "parachute" fabric covering the ceiling.

Bad week for restaurants: Besides Astral Plane, Restaurant M and Felicia's, all shutting down this weekend, Pif - the French bistro near the Italian Market - on Friday announced its finale: July 14, Bastille Day. Owner David Ansill wants to focus on Ansill, his newer spot in Queen Village.

'Free' no more

WYSP (94.1) just dropped the "Free FM" moniker that 12 CBS Radio stations had adopted in a marketing ploy following Howard Stern's departure for the pay world of Sirius satellite radio. WYSP's guy-talk format is unchanged, under the slogan "94 Talks."

WYSP's mission is to provide "unique, unduplicated content for men in Philadelphia," says general manager David Yadgaroff, brushing aside notions that WYSP might return to rock after 18 months and challenge leader WMMR (93.3). Clear Channel did that five weeks ago by flipping its short-lived Spanish station at 104.5 to rock.

WYSP, once on top, has a way to go. In its target of men 18 to 49, it was 13th out of 28 stations in May's Arbitron rankings. Brightest spot was afternooner Kidd Chris, who was sixth and might be a wiser choice for mornings than the middling-rated and syndicated Opie & Anthony. WYSP has been looking for a program director since last month, when Gil Edwards was let go.

Also on the air

John DeBella has re-upped for two more years as morning man on WMGK (102.9). Arbitron ranked DeBella third among men 18 to 49, behind Preston & Steve on WMMR and news on KYW (1060). How mighty are Preston & Steve? Their share of the male audience in May was more than 21/2 times that of KYW and more than three times that of DeBella.

Liberal talk network Air America is airing 24 hours a day on WTAA (1490), a low-powered AM station heard mainly around Atlantic City. Air America had a presence on WHAT in Philly for a spell in 2004-05.

Briefly noted

When in the course of human events: Carol Moseley Braun, the former senator and ambassador, will read portions of the Declaration of Independence during the 10 a.m. service today at Christ Church in Old City. The church uses the Revolutionary Book of Common Prayer - the very one that was altered on July 4, 1776, when the name of King George was crossed out. This landed the church rector, Jacob Duché, in a British jail. The church will display the book and a four-foot cameo of the king that was mounted on the facade of Christ Church in 1744. Depicts the monarch as Caesar, down to the toga.

Phillies Chase Utley and Shane Victorino had a bidding war during Monday's benefit for the Richie Ashburn Baseball Foundation at Morton's steakhouse. The prize: two VIP tickets for Hall of Fame Night at Citizens Bank Park, destined for young Zakki Strunk. Utley paid $700, and gave the lad an autographed litho of himself.

For the retiree who has everything: Tonight's Pennsylvania Lottery drawing will be observed by Mary Butler of Olney, who recently left La Salle U after 29 years. The school's communications office got her on the list of lottery witnesses and chipped in for a hotel room in Harrisburg as a farewell gesture.

Casting note: Philadelphia Casting Co. is looking for postmenopausal women who are taking or have taken hormonal treatment, specifically aromatase inhibitors, for the treatment of breast cancer. It's for a support Web site. E-mail project@philacast.com.

Visuals

Episcopal Academy's graduation will turn up next month on the Food Network show Dinner Impossible. Star chef Robert Irvine, who cooks for the cameras on short notice, was brought to the school on City Avenue and told to prepare a buffet for 625 grads and parents. He dramatically collapsed on the football field at the end. Irvine let on that he never graduated from high school, so he was made an honorary member of the class. The DI-EA connection: Shooters Post & Transfer, the production house that works on the show, also helps the school with video equipment. TiVo: 10 p.m. Aug. 8.

A Media media blitz: NBC's Today show visited the Delco seat last week to interview Hal Taussig, who has put most of his personal wealth into the Untours Foundation. Correspondent Bob Dotson's feature, inspired by Art Carey's front-page piece in The Inquirer on March 26, is penciled in for Thursday morning.

The recent sighting of Vin Diesel, riding a motorcycle near the Parkway? Had to be Barry Adams, multimedia director for WRDW (96.5) and WXTU (92.5). He's 28, rides a Suzuki GSX-R 750 and is a dead-ringer for the actor.

NBC10 reporter Jamison Uhler is all but a lock for the Philadelphia Daily News' annual "Sexy Singles" feature this month, I hear. But how single is he? He and Fox29's Kerri-Lee Halkett just shot a spread as a couple for September's issue of PhillyFit magazine. Hot snaps will include Uhler lifting weights and Halkett hitting a golf ball.


Contact columnist Michael Klein

at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/michaelklein.