He looks so serene, so natural sitting there behind the mic. He seamlessly segues from one topic into the next. Not missing a change in conversation tone or subject matter. It may be hard to fathom now, but at one time Glen Macnow was a little twitchy in his current position.
It’s been 18 years. Almost two decades. His has been a familiar voice to Philadelphia sports fans that’s gradually evolved into a constant companion during those draining afternoon hours, a friend to millions who listen to him. Macnow calls himself a "schmoo" with a cool job. He’s a little more than that.
Macnow was content if he just got five years out of a chancy career change into a new medium he didn’t have much experience in. What it’s turned into is something a little more than that.
A Buffalo, N.Y., transplant, Macnow has been a Havertown resident since July 1, 1987, though most know him as the midday host with Anthony Gargano on WIP’s 610AM popular 10-to-3 afternoon show.
You know listening to Macnow you’ll get truth and balance, along with insight mixed in with guy talk and humor. He’s also kept his hand in his first love, writing, the author of a number of books covering everything from sports movies, The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies, co-authored with Ray Didinger, to barroom debates in The Great Philadelphia Sports Debate, which he co-authored with WIP morning host Angelo Cataldi, to Philadelphia sports history in The Great Philadelphia Fan Book, which he shared authorship with afternoon partner Gargano.
But the multi-platformed, versatile sports personality we see today wouldn’t have been possible without a little risk.
“The Prof,” as Macnow is known by on the air, and due to teaching at St. Joseph’s University, seemed snug in his cocoon before 1993 as the sports business writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, a position he held since 1986 when he came to the City of Brotherly Love from The Detroit Free Press.
Sportstalk radio was still somewhat in its infancy in 1986, when WIP became the first radio station in the country to move to an all-sports format. In the early 1990s, Al Morganti, one of Macnow’s co-workers at the Inquirer, came up with the brilliant idea of starting the morning sports page on WIP, featuring Inquirer sportswriters. That developed into the morning show with Cataldi and Morganti, and afternoon and evening slots needed to be filled.
In stepped Macnow, who had the prescience to create The Great Sports Debate, which appeared on defunct PRISM, which televised Phillies, Flyers and 76ers home games. But it was a breach into an area Macnow admits was a risk.
“My background in broadcasting was pretty minimal before the fulltime move to WIP,” the 56-year-old Macnow told the Haverford-Havertown Patch. “Being a writer my whole life, if you write something you don’t like, you can always go back and change it, or polish it, craft it the way you want. With sportstalk radio, if you say something, it’s out there. When that red light used to go on, you’d get really nervous, but you learn through your mistakes. Honesty in this job has always worked best for me. If there is a gap in knowledge and someone challenges you on something you may not be that versed in, you have to admit it. You don’t have time to look at it as if you were writing something. It’s why I’m up at 5:30 every morning to prepare.
“Whatever comes out of your mouth, you can’t take back. There was risk with this move, though. Sportstalk was just blossoming at the time, but no one really knew then what it would turn into. I had two sons who were 7 and 10 at the time. I was in the newspaper business for 15 years and I could have stayed at the Inquirer for the rest of my career. But I was 36 at the time, and I really liked WIP. Others from the Inquirer like Morganti and Cataldi had already taken the risk, which paved the way for me. But it’s funny, I do remember telling my wife that if I get five years out of this, it would be a good move, it would be worth it.”
That was 18 years ago. Macnow has since become an institution. He has an incredible rapport with his afternoon partner Gargano, the two forming a great tandem that’s been together a total of seven years, in two separate stints (2000-04 and 2008-11). Macnow says it works because though the two have dissimilar living styles, Gargano lives in the city while Macnow calls the suburbs home, they carry the same values.
“There are two things that make Glen special, first it’s his demeanor, he’s thoughtful and a great listener, a prerequisite for this job,” Gargano said to Patch. “The other thing about Glen is that he’s a very kind, big-hearted person. Glen, for example, was very instrumental in holding a fundraiser for one of our listeners, Linda from Mayfair. It’s part of what makes us a good team, I think. We do have like values, and we genuinely like each other. Chemistry isn’t something you can just whip up. You have to be true to who you are. Perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned from Glen is what a great father he is, being a new father myself.”
Macnow is settled in Havertown, an area he says he’s a great fan of, “because it’s so underrated, which I like,” Macnow said. “I raised my sons, Ted and Alex, in Havertown. They went to great schools in the area, and the first day I went to see my house, there were 10 kids out front playing street hockey. It reminded me of Amherst, it reminded me of home.”
Like listening to Macnow makes many Philadelphia-area residents feel each afternoon, at home no matter where they are, hearing a familiar voice.