Angelo Cataldi owes his life to Howard Eskin.
Indirectly, that is.
Spike Eskin, Howard's son, saved Cataldi's life yesterday by performing the Heimlich maneuver while the WIP morning show host was choking on cheesesteak and was unable to breathe.
Wing Bowl 22, set for Friday at the Wells Fargo Center, came close to being a funeral.
After the show ended yesterday, the morning show crew at SportsRadio 94 WIP went outside the Center City studio to videotape a spoof for YouTube of a Super Bowl commercial that will feature the Geico gecko eating a cheesesteak, Cataldi said.
It was kind of a dance number that required Cataldi to "whirl around and take a bite," he said.
The director wasn't happy with the first take, saying the bite wasn't big enough.
Apparently, Cataldi didn't take time to chew and swallow the first bite.
So it's take two, and Cataldi takes a "huge bite," and "half it's coming down my chin."
He had nothing to drink, and next thing he knows he's like running into the building, gesturing for water.
The food slid and things got blocked, Cataldi said.
Spike Eskin was one of only two people there.
"The look on your face," said Eskin, who often joins the morning show or hosts an evening gig.
"A panic swept over me," Cataldi said. "... I realize I'm not breathing at all."
Eskin at first wondered if Cataldi, known for overdramatizing and kidding, was kidding.
When he realized it was serious, it was "here we go," Eskin said.
"I think I must have done it five or six times before it came out," Eskin said.
Cataldi hadn't been able to breathe for about a minute, he said.
Why were your clothes on the floor next to you? cohost Keith Jones mockingly asked.
"We're married in seven countries," Eskin joked back.
Tears poured down Cataldi's face when he could finally breathe, he said.
"He's crying because he's still alive and has to do Wing Bowl," Jones cracked again.
"I am alive because of the heroism of Spike Eskin," Cataldi declared. "... My appreciation for what you did is amazing."
Many times over the years, the giant egos of Howard Eskin and Cataldi clashed, but now Angelo says he's even grateful to Howard, for giving life to Spike.
"I am indebted to every Eskin," Cataldi said.
"You will not eat meat the same way again," Jones said, before sneaking in another joke:
The real reason for the panicky look on Cataldi's face?
"Oh my God, I'm paying for dinner!"
[Tuesday afternoon update: Cataldi tells Philly.com Howard Eskin will be on the show Wednesday morning, and Joe Conklin and Spike Eskin will record a total mockery of the incident.]
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.