Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Marks in Baltimore: Off the mark from the start


Back in May of 2006 I was told that Anita Marks would be making her way north and that she would be handling the afternoon drive time show on ESPN 1300. She was described to me as an attractive sports talker who had played quarterback in a women’s football league and had posed in the buff for Hugh Hefner’s mag.

Given that resume and arriving on the heels of a train wreck of a show manned by Bill Rohland and Chad Dukes, how could she go wrong?

Or so I thought…

I interviewed Marks for Ravens24x7.com prior to her first appearance on air. She was energetic and hopeful.

But it didn’t take long for the locals to realize she and Baltimore went together about as naturally as a glass of Cabernet and steamed crabs. It was really doomed from the start. You can read that interview here.

An interesting side bar, when I conducted the interview and eventually posted it to 24x7 our radio program GAMETIME was then being aired on WNST, Sundays from 10 - Noon. After seeing the posted interview Nestor Aparicio called me and popped off like a raving lunatic. He could not understand how I could post an interview about a host on a competing radio station.

After the rant, I reminded Aparicio of a conversation we had just a few weeks prior.

I had called Aparicio to see if I could get contact info on George Kokinis because I wanted to see if he could join us on our show. You see when I joined WNST I was told that I would be embraced as a member of the team, yada, yada…

Yet after a text and a phone call to my “teammate” to inquire about Kokinis, Aparicio said to me (and I’ll never forget this):

“Would having George Kokinis on your show make it a better show? ‘Yes.’ Would a better show reflect favorably upon WNST? ‘Yes.’ Do I want to hand over my contacts that I’ve spent years developing? ‘I don’t think so.’”

So much for the concept of team…

I was then reminded that I was not an employee, I was a paid-for-programmer and therefore a customer.

So, when Aparicio finished his rant about my Marks interview I reminded him that I was a customer and then I asked if there were any “customers” that advertised on both WNST and ESPN Radio 1300. It was a rhetorical question in a way since we both knew that there were several.

I then asked if he thought those “customers” would allow him to control what they do with their respective businesses.

Let’s call this rhetorical question No. 2.

That conversation was really the beginning of the end for me at WNST. Without the ability to censor 24x7, we were a threat and now with WNST’s emphasis on the web, it’s easy to see why.

But back to Marks…

Her energy and her hope could not survive the negative backlash from Baltimore. In a way her body language and spirit were crushed by it in much the same way as Miguel Tejada’s youthful buoyancy was beaten down by the Orioles struggles and consistently losing ways.

Does Marks’ departure come as any surprise?

In Baltimore we possess and in a way even foster small town mindedness. We clearly have an inferiority complex because when many things go wrong it’s because someone who is not one of us is out to screw us.

We are the potty break on trips between DC and Philly.

We are a town marked by STD’s and violent crime.

We are Homicide.

We are The Wire.

We are the town that the Colts abandoned and the NFL expansion committee shunned.

Paul Tagliabue told us to build a museum instead of a new stadium.

We love Cal Ripken because he is one of us.

The same can be said for Stacy Keibler, Michael Phelps and Kimmie Meissner.

John Unitas didn’t start out as one of us but he embraced us and we adopted him so much so that he is the arguably Baltimore’s most iconic figure.

Anita Marks never got that.

She didn’t want to be a homer because it violated her professional integrity – clouded her journalistic objectivity. Maybe that could have worked if she had a homer alongside her. Instead she was paired with out-of-towners from New York and Wisconsin or worse – a local who is a proud card carrying fan club member of the Indianapolis Colts.

That all may have worked elsewhere but not in Smaltimore.

We want our Tom Matte's!

It will be interesting to see what CBS Radio does to replace Marks on 105.7 The Fan.

"We definitely want someone who wants to be a part of Baltimore and in Baltimore and committed to Baltimore -- be about Baltimore," said station exec Bob Phillips. "We think that's important, and we really try to cover Baltimore sports and get very involved in the community."

So let it be said, so let it be written, so let it be done!

Anita, you will not soon be forgotten if ever. Whether you liked or disliked her everyone would have to agree she was the quintessential lightning rod and plus or minus, the mention of her name clearly sparked emotion.

Those that will miss her should take comfort in the fact that she will end up comfortably somewhere else and she really never looked at Baltimore as a long-term stop anyway. Charm City was really a stepping stone in Marks’ career.

Those that are celebrating her departure should be careful what they wish for. While there is a ton of room for improvement in the now Scott Garceau Show, CBS’ track record isn’t exactly stellar when it comes to finding the right on air fit for Baltimore. They all too often opt for style over substance, marketability over capability.

We’ll see if Phillips is true to his word.

Until then, happy trails Anita.

I hope you find what you are looking for.

10 comments :

thundrbandit13 said...

Johnny Unitas may not have been "one of you" but hate it as Baltimore fans may it was not hard for Johnny U to become one of you because there are so many similarities between Pittsburgh and Baltimore as cities go. Both were major players when the Steel was US Steel, Both cities baseball teams hey day has come and gone and both cities are basically hard nosed blue collar towns. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh are more of a football town than baseball and both cities football teams are a direct reflection of their cities.

Golfphotog said...

My Picks for Anita's replacement.
All are funny, call it as they see it, do their homework and are irreverent (except-Matte). Bill Ripken, Tony Siragusa, Jim Trabor, Tom Matte.
You never know what you'll get and it's all comes w/ humor. In today's tough times. Humor heals and for just a bit. Let's us forget.
Trabor, hometown boy (Wilde Lake HS). Was a QB 1st at Okla. ST, then went on to baseball. He's a proven radio show host and star! Bring him home.
B Rip. Who doesn't like Rip. The man knows baseball. Will tell it, like it should be played the Ripken Way. Which by the way is the Oriole Way!
Goose....what a pisser. There's never been a time I've been w/ Goose that I haven't heard him say something off the wall that hasn't been roll on the floor funny. The man is a well prepared Professional. After the Skins
Eagles I need a flip card to identify players. Goose said here take this one. If you could the notes of weakness's/strength's of players and teams. You would have thought he handed me the coaches situation play book. Unbelievable!

Matte "Ol #41" He's one of the reason for my success. He's cares. Never got to big for his own shoes. He's know yesteryears game as well as today's. The players today trust him. He's Old School. He pulls stories out of the hat from time to time that are priceless!
Bring'em on!!!!

Nestor said...

Lombardi you went way too easy on her. Check the estrogen at the door!

THE Will of Towson said...

Tony,

I just read through your article that explained your departure from WNST and Anita not fitting in to Baltimore. I just wanted to say that it sucks you had to go through all that with WNST. I've heard a few stories before about them and wondered if it was true.

Anyway, great article and sorry you had to go through that. Keep up the good work and I'll be sure to keep reading.

Anonymous said...

While I rarely areed with Anita and quite honestly felt Baltimore deserved a better female sports mind at the mike, she did drive ratings. Many times I think she said thngs and continued comments just to enrage people and get them to call in or listen to the show. I liked that 105.7 had a female voice, the only one we have had around here. I hope they continue that path, but I do not think the answer is Amber Theoharris. ALso, not so sure it has to be someone from Baltimore, just someone who will embace Baltimore and be about Baltimore sports, sometimes the out of town perspective is what is needed so that we don't have 100% homer views on the air.

Harryos29 said...

Harry Os 29 Jan 28th
...I for one, will miss Anita-H on the Drive time show. She did create controversy. However, I think when they ADDED SCOTT to the show, that was the beginning of the End for ANITA-H. She did take a liking to the players from the "U"; and I'd get tired of that story from time to time. But, you always knew what was on her mind. I think she truly loved being here with the RAVENS and its unfortunate that she could not come to a mutual agreement with 1057thfan Management.
...If they decided to replace her with male studio analyst, I hereby vote for TONY LOMBARDI to replace Anita-H

Anonymous said...

Tony, it might be a good idea for you to disclose that one of the reasons WNST fired you and the other stations in town fired you is because you weren't always the most timely guy with your checkbook if you know what I mean.

Just sayin'...

Tony Lombardi said...

Interesting Anonymous...

How is an employee fired for not stroking a timely check? Don't checks go the other way?

To have any credibility with a statement like that you really need to come out of hiding and put a verifiable signature to such comments.

You have to be hired to be fired.

That said, WNST inexplicably fires often without reason. See Messrs. Morekas, Swami, Conn, Wilson and Ford.

They even fired one sports talker temporarily (until sponsors expressed their displeasure) because he didn't jump up and down with pompoms over the self-indulgent Free The Birds campaign.

Just a final thought, these comments are moderated and we allowed Anonymous' to go through.

Think about it!

Brian P said...

"Given that resume and arriving on the heels of a train wreck of a show manned by Bill Rohland and Chad Dukes, how could she go wrong?"

Chad Dukes is a brilliant radio personailty and is superior to anybody in Baltimore's entire history of radio broadcasting. You hosted a show that everybody tuned into just to hear Bart Scott. You never said anything funny, you just facilitated the other person who actually was interesting and chewed your food loudly right up to the mic. You also made an obnoxious sound with your tongue and the roof of your mouth every single time your were about to say something. Chad Dukes is talented and successful. If there were no Ravens then nobody would listen to you or read your posts. Chad Dukes actually has a fan base that would tune in just to hear him review chips and talk about videogames.

With that said, I hate Anita Marks with a passion and I'm glad to see her go.

Tony Lombardi said...

Glad you were listening...

Bart was the star (not the Green Bay guy)...it was my job to set him up as well as his guest...

For what it's worth I never have eaten when on the air because as a listener of sports talk radio, that is something that irritates me too. So the chewing wasn't mine. Since I don't know what the obnoxious sound was, I can't really say if that was mine or not. Could have just been my voice.

:-)

Are you related to Chad Dukes?