Dan Gross: Fanatic host gets second chance

Tom Byrne, given a second chance at 97.5 The Fanatic after cab dust-up.
Tom Byrne, given a second chance at 97.5 The Fanatic after cab dust-up.
Posted: March 05, 2012

Tom Byrne, host at 97.5 the Fanatic, returns to the sports-radio station at 9 p.m. tomorrow for the first time since his arrest Jan. 16 for a late-night assault on a cab driver in Center City.

In an exclusive interview Friday, Byrne told us he has been involved in an alcohol recovery program since his arrest and has been sober since Jan. 17. Byrne, 31, said he could not discuss the incident for which he faces a preliminary hearing April 17 on charges of assault and robbery, over allegedly stiffing the driver a $5 fare. But he made it clear that he messed up.

"I put myself in a horrendous position and now I am going about making the proper changes in my life and getting the appropriate help to make sure I never do anything like this again," Byrne told us at the Fanatic's Bala Cynwyd studio. "I'm in a recovery program from which I am learning a ton. I look forward to working with people in a similar position."

Byrne plans to address the situtation on the air and field calls about it. "I do plan on being blunt with people and respecting their opinions on what happened," Byrne said. "I know a lot of people are disappointed in me. I just hope they give me a chance to show that I'm not what they read. I want people to see this guy is truly contrite, he's remorseful for what happened," said the Fairless Hills native and Conwell-Egan Catholic High School graduate.

Fanatic program director Matt Nahigian said that before Byrne's arrest he had been a model employee who deserved a second chance. "What he did was absolutely unacceptable. He knows that, everybody knows that," Nahigian said Friday. "He was relieved of his shift for over a month. It's now up to him to win back his listeners and I'm going to give him that opportunity. I know he's going to take full advantage of it."

"I know I'm blessed. There are a lot of places that wouldn't allow somebody back," Byrne said. "It's up to me now not to make them look bad. I'm 100 percent confident that if I continue with my treatment, which I'm going to, that they will not regret it."

Byrne will host 9-to-midnight weekdays, a change but in no way a demotion from his old 7-to-10 slot as his show will no longer compete with Sixers and Flyers or any college games.

Friends mourn casino mogul

Comedian Joe Piscopo, sports talker Howard Eskin and restauratuers Barry Gutin and Larry Cohen were among those paying respects to Resorts co-owner Dennis Gomes at his Friday afternoon funeral service in Atlantic City.

Don Marrandino, eastern region president of Caesars Entertainment, and Kevin DeSanctis, CEO of the upcoming hotel Revel, were also there, reports the People's Paper's Chuck Darrow. Musical selections included "My Heart Will Go On," sung by Resorts singing bartender Blanche Moro and "My Way" by South Philly's Brandon Tomasello, 19, a Sinatra disciple whom Gomes discovered. Mayor Lorenzo Langford anounced plans to name a street after Gomes, whose casino career began in Las Vegas, where he worked to weed out crime and corruption from the casino industry, as was shown in the Robert De Niro film "Casino."

OUT AND ABOUT * Attorney, publicity hound and Penn grad Gloria Allred had a quick lunch Thursday at Cosi (17th & Market). * Eagles tackle Todd Herremans looked pretty domestic as he and girlfriend Amy Leigh Andrews filled a cart at the Bed, Bath & Beyond in the Wynnewood Shopping Center Thursday afternoon.

Is he the 'Ink Master?'

Good luck to University of the Arts grad Shane O'Neill, a finalist on Spike TV's "Ink Master," which airs its finale at 10 p.m. tomorrow. O'Neill, who runs the oh-so creatively named Tattoo Shop, in Willow Grove and in Middletown, Del., is up for a $100,000 prize on the show hosted by Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. O'Neill says he was already booked six months out before the show started but he has noticed a slight uptick in business since the show's premiere.
Visit PhillyGossip.com for Dan's latest updates or follow PhillyGossip on Twitter. Have a tip? Call 215-854-5963, or email grossd@phillynews.com. For recent columns, visit www.philly.com/DanGross.

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