Eytan Shander isn’t a native of Philadelphia.
But he is the voice of the city he considers home.
Shander, who has been on the radio for 10 years, including stints at 94.1 WIP and ESPN Radio, is back with 97.5 The Fanatic doing weekend shows. He’s been back for a few weeks now and he’s happy to be in the town where he came into his own as a sports talk host.
“I’m on the air in six hours and I’m already headed in,” Shander said. “I’ll just go and hang out at the studio and watch Mike (Missanelli’s show).
“I was on last week and before my show, I was getting the butterflies in the stomach. I was getting nervous, I was starting to sweat and my mind was going so fast, thinking about everything I was going to talk about. I love doing sports talk, but doing it here is something I’ve always enjoyed.”
Shander considers himself a Philly guy in some ways because, despite being from New York, he has always been an Eagles fan.
“I grew up in a Mets house,” Shander said. “But my uncle was a huge Eagles fan. He was from South Philly, and I remember him coming to get me on Saturday nights and we’d watch the Eagles.
“When I got older, late middle school or high school, my mom would always try and get me tickets to preseason games. I was a kid, I didn’t know, and you’d see the stars playing a half or a quarter, so I would get excited. And even after they came out, I didn’t know, I was cheering the uniform. I’ve always been an Eagles fan. I have a picture from my Bar Mitzvah wearing an Eagles hat. That’s concrete proof.”
Being an Eagles fan is one thing, but Shander has now had ties to the Philly area, on and off, since 2004, shortly after he graduated from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. He previously earned a philosophy degree from Gettysburg College.
“I think it was either (Missanelli) or Anthony Gargano who told me that I’ll never be a tier 1 guy because I’m not from here, and I’ll never have stories about growing up in King of Prussia or riding the El,” Shander said. “But I’m a tier 2 guy because I am now here, I’ve thrown myself into the city, I love it here and I’m an Eagles fan.”
Shander’s rise in the eyes (and ears) of Philly fans is easy to explain.
But his path to getting behind the microphone wasn’t your typical story.
After getting out of school with a philosophy degree, Shander worked in various jobs, including working on movies for Hallmark’s entertainment brand. Then he wound up in Washington, D.C.
There, he was behind a microphone, but he wasn’t taking callers. He was spitting rhymes.
“I was a rapper,” Shander said. “I released an album, I did some touring. I wasn’t Eminem or anything, but I had fun.
“Where I lived, that wasn’t a great place. I wouldn’t allow my mom or family to come visit me. If I did, she wouldn’t have let me stay there. I’m talking rats. It was disgusting.”
Upon getting out of the rap game, Shander got a job in a warehouse, and he decided to enroll in the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.
He knew exactly what he wanted to do.
“When I was at the warehouse, we all had days where we could pick what we wanted on the radio,” Shander said. “One guy wanted rap, one guy wanted classic rock. When it was my day, we’d listen to sports talk.
“I knew I loved that, so I went to the school and told them I didn’t want to learn anything but what it takes to be a sports talk show host. I didn’t want to learn video editing, although now the two have been combined, but I just wanted to be a talk show host.”
Shander got an internship with a station in Atlantic City. There, he would spend hours at the station, then when his shift would end, he’d head to his home in Philly, but would make a pit stop to take in ballgames.
“My internship would be four or five hours some days,” he said. “So I’d do that, then I’d go to the Phillies game or the Flyers or Sixers. That would give me something to talk about the next day. It gave me credibility.”
Later, he got a job at WIP. There, he started out as a producer. Then he would do some announcing. Finally, he became an on-air personality.
“That was what I wanted, I loved being on the air in Philly,” Shander said. “I learned so much while being there. I was very lucky to have a lot of people take interest and help me.”
There is a long list of people who saw the radio rookie trying to find his way.
Among those who he credits for helping him: Big Daddy Graham, Al Morganti, Glen Macnow, Jason Myrtetus and program directors Ed Palentino and Andy Bloom.
And two of the voices who gave him the best advice are Angelo Cataldi and Michael Smerconish.
“I’ll never forget, twice I was too aggressive with callers and both of them told me to relax,” Shander said. “Once, Michael Smerconish was listening to me while he was driving into work, and I ripped into somebody and he told me to be myself and that I didn’t have to (yell) at every caller.
“Then Angelo was listening to me coming in one day. I was doing a show about worst things and a guy called up and said I was the worst radio host. I buried him back. So Angelo gets in and said, ‘what are you doing? When you get something like that, agree with them. Make fun of yourself. You don’t have to be serious. Tell them the program director is going to take you off during the next break. Have fun!’
“Both of these guys were great for giving me raw feedback. They were great and all of those guys went out of their way to help me.”
For the rest of the article visit the Burlington County Times where it was originally published