Marks in Baltimore: Off the mark from the start

Lombardi's Way Marks in Baltimore: Off the mark from the start

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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 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 24×7 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 24×7, 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.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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