Cataldi, WIP appear to be all Conked out

As it's becoming less likely that Joe Conklin will return to WIP 610-AM, the question becomes who will replace the comedian?

"We will never be able to find one person to replace Joe Conklin, so we're in the process of forming a repertory company of talented and funny people to fill the void," host Angelo Cataldi said. "Big Daddy Graham is definitely going to be part of the mix. So is Keith Jones. We plan to add others in the weeks ahead."

Graham, whose status at the station was reduced to part-time when Steve Fredericks returned from medical leave a couple of months ago, would be the logical choice to take over because he has been a stand-up comedian for years. Meanwhile, although Conklin continues to deny that he has signed with WMMR (93.3-FM), many believe that he'll start there on March 3.

Also, it sounds as if Cataldi is getting sick of the Conklin situation, according to a recent posting by Cataldi on

"During the Feb. 11 show, I faced the indignity of a caller telling me, on the air, that our show has become 'unlistenable' since Joe Conklin left," Cataldi said. "Give me a break, please. I did this show for three years before Joe was hired. I had to conspire with him, against management's wishes, to get him onto our show, first as a part-timer and then as a full-timer. No one has to tell me how great a talent he is.

"But to make a comment like that - and I've gotten a few e-mails along those lines, too - is both unfair and irresponsible. In the past week alone, we have had as guests Larry Brown, Joe Banner, national comic Michael Winslow, Katarina Witt and a dozen other city officials, sports figures and media types. If these shows aren't good enough, we're all in trouble.

"I have tried everything in my power to get Joe re-signed. It is not going to happen. If one side wanted it and one side didn't, I might be able to do something. But this is a mutual decision. Joe doesn't want to work at WIP anymore, and the bosses would prefer that he leave.

"In the past year of our show, Joe has been responsible for around 10 minutes of airtime out of the 270 minutes we fill each day. They were 10 great minutes, I agree. But they represented a tiny percentage of the content on our show.

"As of now, I'm out of the business of explaining the Joe Conklin situation. There's nothing more I can say. In radio, people change jobs. It's their right. We will keep doing this show for as long as there are enough people out there to listen. And if there aren't enough listeners, I might resume my writing career."

Snow shows

Sunday night's snow storm meant big ratings for a couple of the Sunday night sports shows. WCAU's "Sports Final," which began at midnight, got its highest ratings in history with a 7.7 rating/17 share. WTXF's "Sports Sunday," which aired at 10:40 p.m. had an 8.7 rating/12 share, following a record 14.9 rating/20 share for the "Ten O'clock News." Each rating point equals 28,305 homes.

Laura Nachman covers television and radio sports for Calkins Media. She can be reached at

February 21, 2003 6:54 AM