97.5 The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano suspended and sued over PHLY Sports role


For the past week, 97.5 The Fanatic listeners have been asking the question: Where is Anthony Gargano?

Now we have the answer.

Gargano is suspended with pay over his involvement with PHLY Sports, a digital media outlet that launched last week, according to a lawsuit filed Monday by The Fanatic’s parent company, Beasley Media Group.

The company says Gargano breached his contract, which states he’s “prohibited from providing services to a competing business while he is employed by Beasley,” according to the lawsuit.

Gargano helped build and assemble the talent at PHLY Sports, which is owned by the ALLCITY Network, and was featured in their launch video as “coming soon.” Brandon Spano, the cofounder and CEO of ALLCITY Network, said he was “really shocked” by Beasley’s lawsuit and remained committed to adding Gargano to their roster of talent.

“Anthony’s a core part of the network here in Philadelphia, so we’re not going to turn our back on him now,” Spano said.

In addition to writing for PHLY and appearing on its shows, Gargano is expected to launch a national NFL show that will appear across all of ALLCITY’s sites, which include Philadelphia, Denver, Phoenix, and Chicago.

Gargano declined to comment. Beasley did not respond to a request for comment.

Beasley said Gargano told The Fanatic on Sept. 11, less than 24 hours before PHLY launched, that he intended to continue hosting his show while also accepting employment with the new sports outlet, where among other things he would write articles and appear on podcasts.

“In other words, Gargano intends to work simultaneously for two competing business to provide sports coverage and commentary to the Philadelphia marketplace, targeting the same audience and competing for the same local advertisers on each platform,” the lawsuit says.

Gargano is under contract with The Fanatic until October 2024, according to the lawsuit.

“We wanted to put him in a position to do something that was different” while he continued to host his show on The Fanatic, Spano said. But Beasley was unwilling to partner with the startup.

PHLY Sports employees prepare in their Philadelphia office ahead of their launch earlier this month.. … Read morePHLY Sports

Beasley also claims ALLCITY solicited nine employees at The Fanatic, including “significant content creators, account executives and sales managers.” PHLY also landed former Fanatic host Devon Givens, who will cohost their Sixers show. Givens is subject to a non-compete clause that will keep him off PHLY until November.

Spano said they talked to people who worked at outlets across the city. PHLY’s roster includes people who previously worked for The Athletic, Philly Voice, and 94.1 WIP.

“They’re looking at it through their lens, thinking we’re trying to tear down their station,” Spano said. “The fact is we talked to everyone in Philly, and some people just happened to work at Beasley.”

In addition to The Fanatic, Gargano cohosts a weekly Fox Sports Radio show with former NFL lineman Lincoln Kennedy called The Fellas. Beasley addressed the show in the lawsuit, saying Gargano was allowed a “limited exception” to host the show because his involvement predates his employment at The Fanatic. Fox Sports is also prohibited from selling advertising for the show in and around Philadelphia, the lawsuit says.

Gargano, a former reporter for The Inquirer, was hired by The Fanatic in 2015 to host their first local morning show, replacing ESPN’s Mike & Mike show. Gargano never got close to challenging then-94.1 WIP morning show host Angelo Cataldi, and was ultimately replaced by Marc Farzetta in 2018. Gargano has been hosting his midday show ever since.

The Fanatic has shed talent in recent years. Longtime afternoon host Mike Missanelli was forced out in May 2022. One host from the afternoon trio who replaced Missanelli — Hunter Brody — was laid off in July. Former morning show cohost Jamie Lynch, known to listeners as “The Bro,” was let go in October 2022, only to return in a part-time role. He recently left to join PHLY. The Fanatic also laid off former assistant program director Eric Camille, who also landed at PHLY as the website’s head of operations.

In the spring ratings book, which basically includes April through June, Gargano finished eighth in the Philadelphia market among men between the ages of 25 to 54, the target demographic of sports radio shows. That was well behind 94.1 WIP midday hosts Joe Giglio and Hugh Douglas, who ended the quarter in third.

Like other media outlets, Beasley has struggled financially during and after the COVID pandemic. During the second quarter of 2023, Beasley reported a net loss of $10.4 million and a 2.1% decline in net revenue, though the company said digital revenue grew 14.8% compared to the second quarter of last year.

Last month, Beasley sold 99.5 WJBR in Delaware to VCY America, a Christian ministry based in Milwaukee, Wisc., for $5 million. That’s significantly less than the $42 million they paid for the station in 2007.

» READ MORE: NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Kruk and the St. Louis Arch, explained

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