LOS ANGELES, CA – Petros Papadakis is a sportscaster and cohost, along with Matt “Money” Smith, of the nationally syndicated Petros and Money Show on Fox Sports Radio. For the last 10 years it has been one of the top sports shows on AM 570 KLAC radio in Los Angeles, in large part to the variety of different subjects the hosts present.
Papadakis delivers improvisational satire with the finesse of a standup comedian, even if he is not one. His humor is quirky but heartfelt and very entertaining. His improvisation of the fictional character Lance Romance, a relationship and love expert, is a smash hit, especially with his Latino listeners – he refers to that segment as the Latino Loveline. Smith also delivers a witty fictional character named Vance Finance, a wealthy real estate tycoon who delivers financial advice to the listeners.
On some Wednesdays, Papadakis assumes the role of a film critic on the segment “Wednesday Night Film Fight,” whereby the two hosts choose two movies with similar themes, analyze and review them, and ask the listeners to determine the “winner.”
One of the most popular segments takes place at the end of the second hour on Fridays, when Papadakis’ father, John, joins the show to discuss and debate current events. One recent segment focused on whether or not Chicago Bears Founder and owner George Halas was Greek.
The Papadakis family has a long history in the Los Angeles sports scene, most predominately regarding University of Southern California (USC) football.
Both John and Papadakis’ brother Taso played football for USC and Papadakis’ maternal grandfather E. Schultz played basketball. Papadakis’ brother Demetris, however, joined crosstown rival UCLA and was a member of the 2008 team. Interestingly enough, Papadakis almost joined UCLA but at the last moment UCLA canceled the recruiting trip. John was fine with him being recruited by USC’s arch rival, Papadakis told TNH, because “a scholarship is a scholarship. Obviously he was thrilled when I joined USC.”
John, who was a linebacker for the USC Trojans, told TNH he was “a top high school prospect and got a lot of offers from colleges. But my heart was set to play for USC, the 1967 National champions, and I was thrilled when they asked me to join their team.”
Although he made his mark on the football field winning the Rose Bowl with USC in 1970, John attained great success as the owner of the Papadakis Taverna, a landmark in San Pedro, a city that is home to the port of Los Angeles.
Did he dream of playing in the NFL? “Yes but I decided to open the taverna. My first year there I made three times the amount of money I would had made as an NFL rookie. Of course, that would not be the case today but back then it was different.” Although far away from the Hollywood glitz and glamour, his restaurant was packed with Hollywood stars.
Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Carson, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg are among the many who came to the Taverna to be entertained by John’s Greek singing and dancing. Frankie Avalon and Beverly Sills burst out a song and John on a couple of occasions accompanied Tony Bennett. The restaurant was also a destination for USC recruits, coach Pete Carroll would bring them there and John would extend the warm welcome of the Trojan family.
John’s Zorba the Greek-like personality and dancing, along with his mother Angie’s homemade Greek specialties proved irresistible to the recruits and their families with many of them signing right there while at the same time been introduced to dancing hasapiko and breaking plates.
Two Heisman trophy winners quarterback Matt Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush, among many others, decided at the Taverna to join USC. No wonder it was known as USC’s secret recruiting weapon.
For his recruiting contributions, John Papadakis received two championship rings that he proudly wears. Most importantly, the Taverna was a place for the family. Everyone worked there, and Petros has fond memories from his days working as a waiter there “I was very good at it. We all felt like we were part of a special team. My dad will take us on special occasions to Dan Tanas, a Hollywood landmark eatery to celebrate. I was very proud of my dad,” he told TNH.
Petros Papadakis would eventually join USC after a quick stop at UC Berkley, but he was only there for a week. “I messed it up” he said.
At USC, Papadakis had success on the field and found his own identity becoming the team’s captain in 1999 and 2000. Up to that point he says “I was always Taso’s brother, who played at USC before I did. We were very close, we went to the same high school, the same parties, and had some common friends. When I was working at the restaurant I was John’s son. Eventually, I became my own man.”
Papadakis describes himself as “a difficult kid, not always making the right choices. I did not have good grades and drove my father crazy. Luckily I became a good football player later in high school and that was my vehicle to college.”
He missed the 1999 season due to injury that required a few surgeries, was voted the Most Inspirational Player Award, an award his father had won as well, making them the only father-son team to win the honor.
Papadakis majored in English and American literature, not broadcasting. But as a football player, his unique style of humor made him an interesting interviewee in the Los Angeles area media, and he got noticed. As a result, one executive offered him a job even though he had no prior broadcasting experience. “As with everything else, I took a less conventional path into broadcasting.
The only way to learn broadcasting is by doing broadcasting. To be a success for a number of years in a major market the show has to reflect your own personality. It takes years of work and guidance to establish your broadcasting identity.” Of course, it helps that Papadakis is never afraid of poking fun at himself or expressing his opinions candidly. He had even proclaimed himself to be the “captain of the worst USC football team.”
Commenting on the recent move of the Chargers football team from San Diego to Los Angeles and the negative reaction from the local fans to the move, he said that “part of the negative perception is created by the media. The team with the largest and most active fan base here are the Raiders, and they never liked the Chargers. The truth is if the Chargers start winning they will be the hottest ticket in town, if they don’t, they will face difficult challenges.”
As for the Alex Spanos (owner) legacy, he said that “I have a lot of empathy for the fans of San Diego that supported the team for 56 years. But I also understand that the Spanos family made a business decision that they felt will be better for the team in the long run. The NFL is an elite club, everyone who belongs in it is privileged.”
Papadakis’ biggest love is college football, not the NFL although he also follows the latter closely. He loves broadcasting college football games and to provide analysis. “When I broadcast college games, my focus is on the players. Many of them will not make it to the NFL, so this is their moment in the spotlight and I want to highlight them. When I do my radio show I can make fun of myself and talk about issues that matter to me.”
His love for cultural issues are showcased in pop culture segments on the third hour on Mondays and Wednesdays “I consider myself a creative person and love reading books, so the show had to reflect that part of my personality. It provides for stimulating conversations and keeps the show moving.”
His biggest satisfaction is when callers tell him that while they have arrived at home, they won’t get out of the car until the commercial break. “In a city where we use apps to find the fastest route to our home it is the ultimate compliment that the listeners will stay in their cars a few more minutes just to listen to the conversation,” Papadakis said, appreciatively.
Papadakis, who along with Smith was nominated for the Marconi award, the highest radio award honoring on-air personalities for excellence in radio broadcasting, hopes to continue entertaining listeners for years to come.