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Jon Marks Is Ready For The Next Chapter Of WIP

“We take the games personally, we take our teams personally and sports radio is something we’ve grown up with and we love it.”

Tyler McComas




The world is your oyster. It’s a familiar saying that means you can do anything in life. Just be sure to take the opportunities offered to you. For Jon Marks, his oyster just happened to be an entire radio station. 

A fresh graduate out of Temple University in Philadelphia, he found himself interning at SportsTalk 950, shortly after the station’s launch in 2005. He was doing anything and everything inside the station. That meant duties that ranged from putting music in the system for hosts to use coming back from breaks to producing promos and much more. He did everything a full-time employee would do without getting paid a dime. But to Marks, it was a heck of a deal. He had an entire radio station to play with. He would’ve paid the station out of his own pocket just to be there. 

Jon Marks's Podcast Credits & Interviews | Podchaser

The new start-up station had a limited staff. There were only a couple hosts, one full-time producer and just a few part-timers. Though he was just an intern, Marks was, for the most part, more qualified than the part timers because of his experience with digital audio at Temple. 

“I knew it would pay off on the backend,” said Marks. “But I wasn’t really thinking about it at that point. It was all just amazing.”

Marks couldn’t have been more right about his non-paying gig working to his benefit. Today, he’s the afternoon drive host at 94 WIP in Philly alongside Ike Reese. A reason he’s had the success he’s had is because of those early, hands-on years playing with a radio station. 

Things are going extremely well for Marks at WIP and his show is enjoying well-earned success, but it’s the beginning of a new era for one of the most popular sports radio stations on the East Coast.

Spike Eskin left the station last summer to take over for Mark Chernoff at WFAN in New York, which ushered in Rod Lakin as the new brand manager. Then, longtime morning radio host and Philadelphia legend Angelo Cataldi said he was going to retire at the end of 2022. 

“The question I always got about Angelo was, is he ever going to retire,” said Marks. “The answer I always gave was, yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it. He may go until he’s 80. We heard some stuff and it looked like it was going to happen and then he announced it. So I wasn’t shocked when he announced it.

“Rod Lakin was hired last year and he’s going to fill a big role. Angelo has done this for over 30 years and his show and his ratings speak for themselves. I feel like Spike, when he took over WIP, he rebuilt the lineup past Angelo. When you have a quarterback on your team, it’s easier to rebuild the defense, rebuild the wide receiving corps, fix the offensive line, etc. Angelo is more or less the quarterback at the station so it’ll be a little bit more difficult to rebuild it. But I feel great. Our staff is great, the show I’m working with Ike and my producer Jack Fritz, we’re feeling really good about our show. The midday show is successful and it’s as good of a midday show as the city has had in a long time.”

To Marks, Lakin’s initial impression has been a good one. What’s impressed him the most about the new brand manager is the fact Lakin uprooted his family during a pandemic from Phoenix, when he probably could have stayed for the rest of his career, but wanted the challenge of working in a city like Philadelphia. 

“That takes balls to do that,” Marks said. “We take the games personally, we take our teams personally and sports radio is something we’ve grown up with and we love it. It really impressed me it was something he was looking to do.”

Rod Lakin

Lakin will help Marks reach his next level of success, but it was Eskin who helped him get the role he enjoys today. When Chris Carlin left WIP in 2017 to join WFAN in New York, the Eagles were in the middle of a run to the Super Bowl. Eskin decided to replace Carlin with Marks in afternoon drive alongside Ike Reese, right when the NFL season was really starting to heat up. The Eagles went on to win a title and Marks reaped the benefits of being in afternoon drive in a city that just won its first Super Bowl. 

But before any of that, it was Eskin that really made the decision easier for Marks to leave 97.5 The Fanatic and join WIP across town. Marks believed in what Eskin was doing and thought Eskin could help evolve him as a host. 

“I couldn’t have been more right,” Marks said. “He’s a big part of the success in my career. I remember when Chris Carlin went to New York, he told me this was one of the reasons he wanted me to be here, just in case something happens, I would be ready to go.

“But after the Super Bowl was over and after that calmed down, he brought me to his office around April or May, he said, listen, I just want you to know the show you’re doing right now is not good enough. I know you work hard and everything else, but it’s not good enough for me. Here’s what I need you to do and here’s where you need improvement. I really appreciated it. It was the first time a program director really told me how it was. He didn’t beat around the bush, and without that, I don’t know if we would’ve had the same amount of success as a show. Spike has some work to do and he’s got some big shoes to fill but he will do it. I know he will. He’s too talented and too smart of a radio guy not to.”

Marks is extremely talented, but he’s also been lucky to surround himself with other talented people. That includes his co-host, former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese. According to Marks, if you didn’t know Reese played for the Eagles, you would think he’s just a radio guy. That’s because the former player immediately embraced the business and even hosted a solo show at night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. 

“Doing four hours, especially in the dead of summer, and the baseball team stinks and there’s nothing going on, it’s not easy,” said Marks. “I think the fact Ike embraced it and became a radio guy, he’s just not a former athlete that’s on the radio. Ike really is a radio guy, so he gets what we’re doing and he understands it. He also had great energy, relatable, likable, funny and an overall good dude. You put all of those things together and it makes for a good show. It works very well for both of us.”

Eagles fuel Sportsradio 94 WIP to best ratings ever; Jon Marks and Ike  Reese topple Mike Missanelli - Philadelphia Business Journal

Though Marks is truly living his dream as an afternoon drive host in a city he always wanted to stay in, he’s more than just the Philly guy that talks Eagles, Phillies, Sixers and the other teams in town. Each Sunday morning, he gets to showcase that on CBS Sports Radio from 2-6 am. He’s been doing the shift since September after previously doing a 10 am to 2 pm shift on Sunday’s for nine months. 

He enjoyed the previous shift, however, with his time slot, it meant he was preempted by local programming on several stations across the country. That rarely happens to him now he’s on from 2-6 am. 

“Yes, that time slot has less listeners, but I’m not preempted by other stations, so I can talk to people all over the place,” Marks said. “Instead of solely focusing on Philadelphia like I do on WIP, I get to stretch my legs a little bit and I can talk about college football, some NFL stuff or even regular life talk, because on overnights, you have a little bit of a different crowd out there. It’s been really cool. I get a pretty good amount of phone calls. I’ve seen people that have had trouble getting guests in time slots like this, so I’ll record an interview on Friday with something that I know won’t be time sensitive and I’ll have that for interviews. It’s a dream to be working on WIP and it’s really cool to be doing a national radio show.”

BSM Writers

Is There Still a Place for Baseball Talk on National Sports Shows?

“Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance.”

Demetri Ravanos




Last week at the BSM Summit, I hosted a panel focused on air checks. I wish I could say we covered the topic thoroughly, but we got derailed a lot, and you know what? That is okay. It felt like real air checks that I have been on both sides of in my career. 

Rob Parker of The Odd Couple on FOX Sports Radio was the talent. He heard thoughts on his show from his boss, Scott Shapiro, and from his former boss, legendary WFAN boss Mark Chernoff. 

Baseball was the topic that caused one of our derailments on the panel. If you know Rob, you know he is passionate about Major League Baseball. He cited download numbers that show The Odd Couple’s time-shifted audience responds to baseball talk. To him, that proves there is not just room for it on nationally syndicated shows, but that there is a sizable audience that wants it.

Chernoff disagrees. He says baseball is a regional sport. Sure, there are regions that love it and local sports talk stations will dedicate full hours to discussing their home team’s games and roster. National shows need to cast a wide net though, and baseball doesn’t do that.

Personally, I agree with Chernoff. I told Parker on stage that “I hear baseball talk and I am f***ing gone.” The reason for that, I think, is exactly what Chernoff said. I grew up in Alabama (no baseball team). I live in North Carolina (no baseball team). Where baseball is big, it is huge, but it isn’t big in most of the country. 

Now, I will add this. I used to LOVE baseball. It is the sport I played in high school. The Yankees’ logo was on the groom’s cake at my wedding. Then I had kids. Forget 162 games. Even five games didn’t fit into my lifestyle. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still have feelings for the sport, but they are buried by years of neglect and actively shunning the sport.

Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance. 

Me, and millions of sports talk listeners like me, look at baseball like a toddler looks at broccoli. You probably aren’t lying when you tell us how much you love it, but damn it! WE WANT CHICKEN FINGERS!

A new Major League Baseball season starts Thursday and I thought this topic was worth exploring. I asked three nationally syndicated hosts to weigh in. When is baseball right for their show and how do they use those conversations? Here is what they had to say.

FREDDIE COLEMAN (Freddie & Fitzsimmons on ESPN Radio) – “MLB can still be talked nationally IF there’s that one player like Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani can attract the casual fan.  MLB has definitely become more local because of the absence of that SUPER player and/or villainous team.  I wonder if the pace of play will help bring in the younger fans that they need, but the sport NEEDS that defining star that is must-see TV.”

JONAS KNOX (2 Pros & a Cup of Joe on FOX Sports Radio) – “While football is king for me in sports radio, I look at baseball like most other sports. I’m not opposed to talking about it, as long as I have an angle or opinion that I am confident I can deliver in an entertaining manner. A couple of times of any given year, there are stories in baseball that are big picture topics that are obvious national discussions. 

“I think it’s my job to never close the door on any topic/discussion (except politics because I don’t know anything about it).

“But also, if I’m going to discuss a localized story in baseball or any other sport for that matter – I better have an entertaining/informed angle on it. Otherwise, I’ve let down the listener and that is unacceptable. If they give you their time, you better not waste it.”

MAGGIE GRAY (Maggie & Perloff on CBS Sports Radio) – “While I was on WFAN there was almost no amount of minutia that was too small when it came to the Mets and Yankees. On Maggie and Perloff, our baseball topics have to be more centered around issues that can be universal. For example, ’Is Shohei Ohtani the face of the sport? Is Ohtani pitching and hitting more impressive than two sport athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders? Do you consider Aaron Judge the single-season homerun king or Barry Bonds?’ Any baseball fan or sports fan can have an opinion about those topics, so we find they get great engagement from our audience.”

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BSM Writers

Who Can Sports Fans Trust Once Twitter Ditches Legacy Verified Blue Checks?

The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

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As of April 1, Twitter will finally make a dreaded change that many will view as an April Fools’ prank. Unfortunately, it won’t be a joke to any user who cares about legitimacy and truth.

Last week, Twitter officially announced that verified blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that have not signed up for a Twitter Blue subscription. Previously, accounts whose identity had been verified were allowed to keep their blue checks when Twitter Blue was implemented.

But shortly after Elon Musk purchased Twitter and became the social media company’s CEO, he stated his intention to use verification as a revenue source. Users would have to pay $8 per month (or $84 annually) for a Twitter Blue subscription and blue checkmark verification. Paying for blue checks immediately set off red flags among users who learned to depend on verified accounts for accredited identities and trusted information.

The entire concept of verification and blue checks was simple and effective. Users and accounts bearing the blue checkmark were legitimate. These people and organizations were who they said they were.

As an example, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has faced criticism for how he framed domestic violence and sexual misconduct involving star NFL players, and deservedly so. But fans and media know Schefter’s tweets are really coming from him because his account is verified.

Furthermore, Twitter took the additional step of clarifying that accounts such as Schefter’s were verified before Twitter Blue was implemented. He didn’t pay eight dollars for that blue checkmark.


The need for verification is never more vital than when fake accounts are created to deceive users. Such accounts will put “Adam Schefter” as their Twitter name, even if their handle is something like “@TuaNeedsHelp.” Or worse, some fake accounts will create a handle with letters that look similar. So “@AdarnSchefter” with an “rn” in place of the “m,” fools some people, especially at a quick glance when people are trying to push news out as fast as possible.

Plenty of baseball fans have been duped over the years by fake accounts using a zero instead of an “o” or a capital “I” instead of a lowercase “l” to resemble Fox Sports and The Athletic reporter Ken Rosenthal. That trick didn’t get me. But when I covered Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report 10 years ago, I did fall for a fake Jim Salisbury account that reported the Philadelphia Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants. Capital “I,” not lowercase “l” in “Salisbury.” Pence was, in fact, traded to the Giants two days later, but that didn’t make my goof any less embarrassing. I should’ve looked for the blue checkmark!

But after April 1, that signifier won’t matter. Legacy blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that haven’t paid for Twitter Blue. Some accounts that were previously verified might purchase a subscription to maintain that blue check. But those that were deemed legitimate prior to Musk taking over Twitter likely won’t. (There are also rumors that Twitter is considering a feature that would allow Twitter Blue subscribers to hide their blue check and avoid revealing that purchase.)

That could be even more true for media organizations, which are being told to pay $1000 per month for verification. Do you think ESPN, the New York Times, or the Washington Post will pay $12,000 for a blue check?

We’ve already seen the problems that paying for verification can cause. Shortly after Twitter Blue launched, accounts pretending to be legacy verified users could be created. A fake Adam Schefter account tweeted that the Las Vegas Raiders had fired head coach Josh McDaniels. Users who saw the “Adam Schefter” Twitter name went with the news without looking more closely at the “@AdamSchefterNOT” handle. But there was a blue checkmark next to the name this time!

The same thing occurred with a fake LeBron James account tweeting that the NBA superstar had requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. There was a “@KINGJamez” handle, but a “LeBron James” Twitter name with a blue check next to it.

Whether it’s because fans and media have become more discerning or Twitter has done good work cracking down on such fake accounts, there haven’t been many outrageous examples of deliberate deception since last November. But the potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

If that seems like an overstatement, it’s a very real possibility that there will be an erosion of trust among Twitter users. Media and fans may have to take a breath before quickly tweeting and retweeting news from accounts that may or may not be credible. False news and phony statements could spread quickly and go viral across social media.

Even worse, Musk has announced that only verified Twitter Blue accounts will be seen in your “For You” timeline as of April 15. (He can’t claim it’s an April Fools’ Day joke on that date.)

Obviously, that carries far more serious real-world implications beyond sports. Forget about a fake Shams Charania account tweeting that Luka Dončić wants to be traded to the Lakers. It’s not difficult to imagine a fake Joe Biden account declaring war on Russia and some people believing it’s true because of the blue checkmark.

We may be nearing the end of Twitter being a reliable news-gathering tool. If the accounts tweeting out news can’t be trusted, where’s the value? Reporters and newsmakers may end up going to other social media platforms to break stories and carry the viability of verification.

When Fox Sports’ website infamously pivoted to video in 2017, Ken Rosenthal posted his MLB reporting on Facebook prior to joining The Athletic. Hello, Instagram. Will someone take their following and reputation to a fledgling platform like Mastodon, Post, Spoutible, or BlueSky, even if it means a lesser outlet?

If and when that happens, Twitter could still be a community but not nearly as much fun. Not when it becomes a matter of trust that breaks up the party.

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BSM Writers

There’s a Lesson For Us All in Florida Atlantic’s Elite 8 Broadcast Struggle

“It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.”

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Ken LaVicka and Kevin Harlan probably don’t have a ton in common. Both of them were announcing an Elite Eight game over the weekend, that is one thing tying them together, but their experiences were wildly different. Harlan is on CBS with a production crew numbering in the dozens making certain all goes smoothly. LaVicka, the voice of the Florida Atlantic Owls, is a production crew himself, making certain those listening in South Florida heard the Owls punch their Final Four ticket. At least, that was LaVicka’s plan.

The Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Men’s Final Four. Even while typing that sentence, it still seems odd to say. Do you know how many college basketball teams are thinking “how can Florida Atlantic make the Final Four and we can’t?” These are the types of stories that make the NCAA Tournament what it is. There is, literally, no barrier stopping any team from this tournament going on the run of their life and making it all the way.

Everyone listening in South Florida almost missed the moment it all became real for the Owls. With :18.6 to go in Florida Atlantic’s Elite Eight game against Kansas State, the Madison Square Garden Ethernet service to the front row of media seating went completely dark. 

It was on that row that Ken LaVicka was painting the picture back to South Florida. Well, he was until the internet died on him.

Nobody does a single show away from their home studio anymore without trying to avoid the nightmare of Ethernet failure. Gone are the days of phone lines and ISDN connections, all the audio and video is now sent back to the studio over the technological miracle that is the internet. It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.

Take that anxiety and multiply it by 1,000 when that Ethernet line is connected to a Comrex unit for the most important moment of your career. LaVicka had the great fortune of a Kansas State timeout to try something, anything, to save the day. In his quick thinking, he spun around and grabbed an ethernet cable from row two which, as it turns out, still had internet access flowing through it’s cables. That cable, though, was the equivalent of an iPhone charging cord; never as long as you need it to be.

One of LaVicka’s co-workers from ESPN West Palm held the Comrex unit close enough to the second row for the cable to make a connection and the day was saved. LaVicka was able to call the last :15 of the Florida Atlantic win and, presumably, get in all the necessary sponsorship mentions.

It was an exciting end to the FAU v. Kansas State game, a great defensive stop by the Owls to seal the victory. LaVicka told the NCAA’s Andy Katz he tried to channel his inner Jim Nantz to relay that excitement. The NCAA Tournament excitement started early this year. In the very first TV window 13 Seed Furman upset 4 Seed Virginia with a late three pointer by JP Pegues, who had been 0-for-15 from beyond the arc leading up to that shot. It is the type of play the NCAA Tournament is built upon.

It was called in the manner Kevin Harlan’s career was built upon. Harlan, alongside Stan Van Gundy and Dan Bonner, called the Virginia turnover leading to the made Furman basket with his trademark excitement before laying out for the crowd reaction. After a few seconds of crowd excitement he asked his analysts, and the world, “Did we just see what I think we saw? Wow!” Vintage Kevin Harlan.

One reason we are so aware of what Harlan said, and that he signaled his analysts to lay out for the crowd reaction, was a CBS Sports tweet with video of Harlan, Van Gundy and Bonner in a split screen over the play. It gave us a rare look at a pro in the middle of his craft. We got to see that Harlan reacts just like he sounds. The video has more than six million views and has been retweeted more than 6,000 times, a lot of people seem to like it.

Kevin Harlan is not in that group. Harlan appeared on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Media podcast after the video went public and said he was embarrassed by it. Harlan added he “begged” CBS not send the tweet out but to no avail. Harlan told Deitsch “I don’t know that I’m glad that they caught our expression, but I’m glad the game was on the air. I think I join a chorus of other announcers who do not like the camera.”

There’s a valuable announcer lesson from Harlan there; the audience is almost always there for the game, not you. Harlan went on to describe the broadcast booth to Deitsch as somewhat of a sacred place. He would prefer to let his words accompany the video of the action to tell the story. Kevin Harlan is as good as they come at his craft, if he thinks that way, there’s probably great value in that line of thought.

We can learn from LaVicka, as well. You work in this business long enough and you come to accept technical difficulties are as much a part of it as anything. They always seem to strike at the worst times, it is just in their nature. Those who can find a way to deal with them without everything melting down are those who can give their audience what they showed up for. Those who lose their mind and spend time complaining about them during the production simply give the audience information they don’t really care about.

The Final Four is an unlikely collection of teams; Miami, San Diego State, Connecticut and Florida Atlantic. You all had that in your brackets, right? Yep, the Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Final Four and Ken LaVicka will be there for it. Now, if the internet will just hold out.

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Barrett Media Writers

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