As we noted in March, sports radio stands out as a medium for the numbers of people who continue to find prominent work despite remarkable scandals. The latest on that front is Josh Innes, most recently a host on Philadelphia’s 94.1 WIP, who was suspended in January for calling a white Eagles’ player a “house negro” and fired in August after racist mocking of a competitor’s fake racist caller. David Barron of The Houston Chronicle reports that Innes will be returning to Houston, where he previously hosted a show on KILT 640 AM, to host a new afternoon drive show on competitor KBME 790 AM:
Josh Innes, the talented but polarizing former KILT (610 AM) sports talk host, will return to Houston next Monday on rival station KBME (790 AM), which let go longtime radio host Charlie Pallilo to make way for Innes in the ratings-crucial afternoon drive time slot.
…Innes, who recently was fired by CBS Radio station WIP in Philadelphia, will be paired with his former KILT producer, Jim Mudd, on KBME from 3-7 p.m. beginning next Monday.
His show will air opposite the KILT afternoon drove show co-hosted by Rich Lord, with whom he had a strained relationship during his time at KILT. That sets up what could be one of the most contentious, potentially entertaining ratings and programing face-offs in the brief history of Houston sports radio.
Innes said Monday afternoon he had other radio offers but wanted to return to Houston and looks forward to competing against his former colleagues at KILT.
“After I left Houston, I missed it,” he said. “And the opportunity at 790 is perfect. They said they want me to be who I am and to do what I do, and they will support what I do.”
Despite his friendship with several KILT hosts, he said, “I still want to beat them. I wasn’t hired by 790 to be white noise and not make some kind of impact. I was brought in to win and generate revenue and ratings and breathe life into what has not been a very interesting radio market right now. It’s very dull. There’s nothing that’s special.”
Innes certainly won’t be dull, as his time in Philadelphia not only saw the two aforementioned racist incidents, but also regular feuds, including one that turned into a heated confrontation with a competitor at an Eagles’ practice in 2015. As Dan Levy wrote at Billy Penn when Innes got fired, plenty of people at his own station didn’t like him either:
Honestly, is that enough to get Innes fired, or was this a way to get him out after sagging ratings and being a general headache for the WIP higher ups? As someone in the industry said when hearing about his ouster, “in some ways it will be a shame if he got fired for racial comments as opposed to the reality of sucking and getting bad ratings. Because now Innes will be able to play the martyr role.”
…A now former co-worker of Innes sent Billy Penn this note after learning the afternoon drive suddenly has a vacancy: “As someone said to me once, you can be asshole to listeners. You can be an asshole to management. You can be an asshole to other hosts. You can be an asshole to sales.
“You can’t be an asshole to everyone.”
We’ll see if Innes takes that advice this time around.