Put yourself on a bar stool at one of this city’s fine watering holes after Claude Giroux snubbed Sidney Crosby to his seat en route to the first goal of a game that ultimately squashed the Penguins 2012 Cup contention. There’s something about those orange and black clad barbarians that sets your stomach into a talespin. So you glance up from your fifth (but who’s really counting) beer to find someone in the bar to offer you a common ground, or a comradery of consolation. Next to you is a portly man with a jolly laugh. You introduce yourself, and your stool neighbor, with a welcoming smile says, “they call me NY Vinnie.”
It just wouldn’t feel right.
On Tuesday, 93.7 The Fan announced they were parting ways with morning show co-host Paul Alexander and mid-day host “NY Vinnie” Richichi effective immediately. While Paul Alexander’s spot on the morning show was subsequently absent, 10 a.m. Thursday came with Richichi hosting his farewell show minus four-year co-host Ron Cook. Adding to the awkwardness of it all, Richichi spent four hours talking sports and referencing to Fan memory lane that was, to his credit, the high road. But it’s still not known at this time why the radio station parted ways with Richichi, but many insiders have pointed to the turbulent relationship with Ron Cook as the reason for the oust.
But to me, it was simply a case of an outsider not inside enough.
Vinnie Richichi spent his childhood rooting for the New York Jets and the New York Mets. He often used his 10-2 Fan time slot to go on personal diatribes about Jets coach Rex Ryan that lasted longer than the ten seconds even a casual listener would care for. His love for Bruce Springsteen and the ’69 Mets didn’t connect himself to the old-school Pittsburgher who remembered Bob Moose no hitting those Mets that same magical year. The hopeful optimist routine seemed to only mask his lack of Pittsburgh sports knowledge, something that seemed to regularly agitate his co-host.
In any business, to get your foot in the door, it’s about who you know. But for longevity in that business, it’s about you. And NY Vinnie just couldn’t keep up with his colleagues.
Fan Morning Show host Gregg Gianotti and night host Andrew Fillipponi are both fellow New Yorkers and frankly, the best The Fan offers. Gianotti was a producer for the Joe and Evan Show on WFAN in New York and Fillipponi is a Buffalo native. But both have displayed their Pittsburgh sports education so well that not only do they have their fingers on the pulse, they’ve grabbed it. Fillipponi is on record stating to be a hardcore Mets and Giants fan, but you never get the sense that his contributions to Pittsburgh sports talk is contrived.
When it comes to fan bases and how they accept outsiders, it’s the opposite of a business. It’s never who you know, it’s what you know. And in a top sports town, where a sports talk show host can often times be trusted to raise the spirits of a bleary city, Richichi let his glory days pass him by.
There was never a comfort in the words of Vinnie Richichi. In a business that relies so much on access, colleagues like Ron Cook, and Greg Gianotti confirmed to you the bad times and helped you relish in the good times. Richichi’s burly New Yawk tawk never resonated with the dahntahn yinzers, n’at.
A penny’s worth of thought should never be misunderstood for a wealth of knowledge. And for the diehard Fan listener, paying Vinnie Richichi no mind was always the best investment.
Article by Gino Ferretti, Pittsburgh Sporting New contributor.