On The Air
by Laura Nachman
Bucks County Courier Times
January 5, 2007

Learning about Ray Didinger's childhood, it is easy to see how the popular Eagles' television and radio commentator, who will be covering the NFC wild-card game Sunday vs. the Giants, was destined to become the Eagles' authority and author of “The Eagles Encyclopedia.”

“My parents [Ray and Marie] were huge Eagles fans and season ticket holders,” Didinger said. “Every summer, while the other kids in my [Ridley] neighborhood went down the shore, my father used his two weeks of vacation to take us to Eagles training camp [in Hershey]. I felt sorry for the kids who had to go down the shore.

“We would watch practice — both sessions, morning and afternoon — then have dinner and return to our room at our hotel. I'd watch TV, my mother would read a book, and my father would sit at the desk with a copy of the Eagles roster. He would sit there for hours, cutting down the squad. This guy won't make it [slash through that name], this guy won't make it [slash through that name]. He would accomplish in two weeks what it took the coaches an entire summer to do.”

During the football season, Didinger's grandfather, who owned a bar in Southwest Philadelphia, would charter a bus for the patrons who bought their season tickets to the Eagles together. Besides playing in the Delaware County football leagues with none other than Vince “Mr. Invincible” Papale, Didinger became a sportswriter at St. James High and Temple.

“I guess it's no surprise that I've chosen this career path,” he said. “It's also fitting that I was able to dedicate "The Eagles Encyclopedia' to my parents and grandparents because, in a very real sense, the book began with them. I do feel very lucky. I would watch Bill Campbell on TV, read Hugh Brown writing about the Eagles in the Bulletin and listen to Jack McKinney doing the post-game show on the radio and I'd think how great it would be to do any of those things. I've had the opportunity to do all of them. Plus I was able to form a friendship with my boyhood idol, Tommy McDonald, and then serve as his presenter at his Hall of Fame induction in 1998. It has been a wonderful ride, and I'm thankful for it every day.”

After 30 years as the Eagles' beat reporter and columnist for the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Philadelphia Daily News, Didinger recently celebrated his 10th anniversary as an Emmy award-winning producer at NFL Films. The family football tradition continues as Didinger's son, David, also an Emmy winner, works for NFL Films.

Although Ray and Marie moved to Florida years ago, they still keep up with the Eagles through their son. They receive tapes of “Eagles Post Game Live” and clippings from the week's Eagles game in the mail, and listen to Ray's Saturday afternoon show through the Internet.

This weekend, Didinger will be heard on WIP 610-AM from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, he'll do the pre-game show from 2-4 p.m. on 94.1-FM, then do post-game analysis for Comcast SportsNet's “Eagles Post Game Live” at 7:30 p.m.

No deal

According to industry sources, WFAN New York Yankees beat reporter and Penn State graduate Sweeny Murti turned down an offer to host the pre-game and post-game shows for the Phillies.

“I do not comment on the people that we may or may not have had conversations with,” Rob Brooks, Phillies manager of broadcasting, wrote in an e-mail.

Murphy staying

CN8 shot down sports industry rumors that sportscaster Gregg Murphy was going to CBS3. CN8 spokesperson Cindy Hamilton wrote in an e-mail: “Gregg Murphy has been a welcome addition to the new "Out of Bounds' show and team, and will continue to lead our 7 p.m. "Out of Bounds' original, live program. We look forward to Gregg's continued success with CN8, The Comcast Network and to his continuing to deliver award-winning coverage for "Out of Bounds.'”

January 5, 2007 7:24 AM