Remember that radio host who was fired for referring to three NFL players as "three monkeys"?
Well, that host is now making a claim that may have you professing to be a monkey's uncle.
Dan Sileo, current afternoon drive host at WQAM in Miami, recently conducted a telephone interview with the radio trade publication Radio Ink. As you would expect, one of the things he was asked about was the swift cancellation of his morning drive show at WDAE ("The Sports Animal") in Tampa Bay, after referring to three then-free agent NFL players who could potentially join the Buccaneers - including Vincent Jackson, who did sign with the team - as "three monkeys."
"You know, I wasn't fired over that comment," Sileo disclosed in an "on the record" claim. "That's a misnomer that people say that. It's not exactly true at all. As a matter of fact, we really still don't know to this day exactly why we were. You know, we've asked a couple of times, but... hey, so be it. It was time to move on, and even in my exit meeting with the market manager there, I said, 'Hey, it was time'."
On paper, it would be hard to argue that Sileo was not dismissed over his "three monkeys" quip, considering that he was let go, well, hours after he made his "three monkeys" quip.
But Sileo claims that it was actually the boiling point.
While any long-time employee might hold a grudge against an employer upon being terminated, Sileo let it be known that he has no hard feelings against the parent company of WDAE.
"You know, at first, I said, 'Hey, I hate Clear Channel'," he clarified. "Then I realized there were a lot of great people inside of Clear Channel that I love still.
"It wasn't the whole company; it was just one or two or three people that I had a difference of opinion with."
Perhaps this "difference of opinion" started back when Sileo committed his previous offense - that time he told listeners that the Glazer family, which owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - whose games are heard on WDAE - was mulling bankruptcy after being involved in Bernard Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme. This according to a "friend" of Sileo's who works at the SEC. (Probably not the same "source" that claimed Jeremy Shockey was the Bountygate "snitch".) So maybe, that was Sileo's one strike with the promise not to screw up again - though I don't know why you wouldn't fire any host who makes a "monkeys" comment without any warnings.
It's certainly hard to part with a host who, according to Sileo's calculations, was pulling a "9 share" in key demographics. Sileo also boasted that his reign at WDAE was the "highest rated morning sports show in America".
"Getting 10 shares with one guy in the morning is quite remarkable going against people and beating FM's."
Even though his tenure at WDAE came to an abrupt end, Sileo still has an affinity for the station where he held down morning drive for fourteen years.
"I love the station," he said. "We did some phenomenal things there that I don't know, if ever, will be duplicated in radio anywhere."
And as long as we're talking about duplication...
Sileo was asked to comment on the sports radio landscape which has "exploded" recently. "It's more opportunities for a lot more... talented people," he remarked.
More people, no doubt, that can take on the national sports radio behemoth that is ESPN Radio.
"It's about time," Sileo announced. "ESPN has got their footprint in... syndicated radio... It really is there to market the tool of TV, and not radio to stand on itself." He added that he has high hopes for the new CBS Sports Radio network because there will be "radio guys running it" - "radio guys" like Mark Chernoff, VP of sports programming for CBS Radio as well as operations manager for WFAN/New York, and Mike McVay, a high-ranking executive with Cumulus Media whom Sileo lauded as a "personal friend".
We hinted that a recent lunch meet between McVay and Sileo may be somewhat of a vetting for Sileo being considered part of CBSSR's 24/7 sports talk lineup, set to bow January 2. While that certainly doesn't sound like it's off the table, Sileo ruled out hosting any nationally syndicated show - substitute hosting on Yahoo! Sports Radio notwithstanding - at least for the foreseeable future.
He informed the Radio Ink interviewer that he was recently asked by an undisclosed entity if they could syndicate his Miami-based afternoon show back to markets such as Orlando, Jacksonville, and, yes, Tampa. (We won't blow the lid off of who was behind this request, but if we were to guess, it might be that new "SportsTalk Florida" outfit from Genesis Communications, created as a result of them dropping the ESPN Radio affiliation on their stations.) Sileo said that he had to decline the offer, so as to concentrate on establishing the new three-month-old program in Miami first. "We're very... honored that somebody would ask us that, but... we got to go ahead and stay focused."
And on the air, according to Sileo, it's important not to focus on being a know-it-all. "I'm not an expert, I'm a fan.
"If you pigeonhole yourself as an expert on one sport, you pigeonhole your show as a one-horse pony... When you start pretending that you're an expert, that's how you pigeonhole yourself.
"Me, I'm not an expert," he continued. "I'm not really even a journalist. I'm a radio guy that's got an opinion."