WPHT host Smerconish makes Sirius career change

ASSOCIATED PRESS The Dropkick Murphys took steps to ensure their Philly show won't break a local labor dispute.
ASSOCIATED PRESS The Dropkick Murphys took steps to ensure their Philly show won't break a local labor dispute.
Posted: March 07, 2013

THE TALK-RADIO AUDIENCE was becoming "too old, too white, too male and too angry" for syndicated host Michael Smerconish. On Wednesday, he announced that he's leaving terrestrial radio - including local affiliate 1210 WPHT - and heading for SiriusXM, where he'll appear on the nonpartisan POTUS station.

The "Michael Smerconish Program," as it will be called, will begin April 15 and run weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

A rep from WPHT says that Smerconish has no official end date at his home station but that the station wishes him the best. WPHT is one of 80 stations that air Smerconish, who is also an Inquirer columnist and former Daily News columnist. He'll continue to write his column for the Inquirer.

Smerconish said he's interested in reaching a new audience at Sirius. The satellite broadcaster approached him about hosting the show, selling him on the POTUS station. It's "politics-focused, current-events-focused, but you're not going to be surrounded by people kicking the s--- out of Obama, whether he deserves it or not," Smerconish said.

No plans could be confirmed for how WPHT will handle Smerconish's departure, but sources close to the station told me that instead of replacing Smerconish, they might shift programming around, extending Chris Stigall's morning show and then shifting Dom Giordano and the afternoon-drive slot, now hosted by Steve Martorano and Rich Zeoli, earlier.

A Dropkick union

Boston-based punk band the Dropkick Murphys have made arrangements with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 8 that will allow the band's two sold-out Electric Factory shows to go on without crossing the picket line. Local 8 has been in a labor dispute with the Electric Factory since Friday.

Murphys frontman Ken Casey, along with Michael J. Barnes, president and business manager of Local 8, will hold a news conference at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the McFadden's pub near Citizen's Bank Park to announce their special arrangement.

Local 8 members will load and unload equipment for the band, but will not enter the building. The Dropkick Murphys will pay the workers out of pocket. The stagehands will then donate their wages to the Claddagh Fund. Founded by the band, the Claddagh Fund works to give money to impoverished neighborhoods in Boston and Philadelphia. Barnes told me that Local 8 will match the funds donated by their members.

Erykah Badu, who played the Electric Factory on Sunday, also reached out to Barnes concerning the strike, but it was too last minute to involve the union stagehands.

The Electric Factory had no comment.

Curtain call

Harry S Truman High School drama teacher Lou Volpe stages his final show, "Godspell," on Friday and Saturday at the Levittown school. Volpe taught at Truman for 44 years.

But Volpe isn't just any drama teacher. He's the go-to guy for the theatrical-rights licensing company Music Theatre International to test plays out in a high-school setting. Volpe has piloted such classics as "Les Miserables," "Rent" and "Spring Awakening" for the amateur set. On Tuesday, MTI awarded Volpe with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for Theatre Education. Students who passed through Volple's class who have gone on to work professionally in the arts include multiple Emmy-winner Bob Schooley, who created the Nickelodeon show "Kim Possible," and CBS 3's Susan Barnett.

"I had a great career here and I love the theater program, but I want to see what else is out there," Volpe told me.

Another student of

Volpe's is New York Times contributing writer (and Daily News and Inquirer alum) Michael Sokolove, who chose his former English teacher as the subject of his next book, Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town and the Magic of Theater, scheduled for a September release from Riverhead Books.

"He was my teacher and my mentor and really the reason I became a writer," Sokolove said. "He changed these kids' lives, and he changed my life."

So now that Volpe will get to be the star - this time in Sokolove's book - which actor would he want to play him a movie adaptation?

"My favorite is Stanley Tucci," Volpe said. "It would be an honor."

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