By Dave Hughes
Anita Marks, a former host for 105.7 The Fan and sideline reporter for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, would have been quite happy to still be working in the Baltimore market.
"I love their passion for sports," Marks said of Baltimore sports-radio fans. "That's something different from where I grew up, in Miami. You have Dolphins fans, but in Baltimore, they really love their teams."
A controversial sports-radio personality, Marks is now based in New York City and has started a weekend show on the new NBC Sports Radio Network.
"I learned and experienced a lot during my years in Baltimore," Marks said. "Fans are as much an important part of the show, because of their passion. Baltimore is a different culture than Miami. Baltimore is refreshing, fun and exciting."
Marks was polarizing during her time on air in Baltimore.
"Half the town loved me, and half the town hated me," she said. "But even those who were enthusiastic in their hatred, they listened every day."
And, Marks stressed, she would have loved to stay in Baltimore.
But, near the end of 2009, CBS Radio, which owns 105.7 The Fan, WJZ-FM, offered her what she called a not-so-great contract, which would have prohibited her from doing outside work at places such as the NFL Network and ESPN.
"It was a bad economic climate, and they lowballed me big time," Marks said. "I had my back to the wall with 105.7, and I walked away with nothing.
"I really loved doing sports-radio hosting work in Baltimore. I had a blast. There was a misconception that I wanted to leave Baltimore -- not true.
"I was not using Baltimore as a stepping stone. I wanted to stay."
Marks said that if she had gotten a fair deal from CBS, she would have been ready to move up from renting to owning a house in Baltimore.
"I was open to anything if the contract was right," Marks said. "I even offered to sign a short-term deal, 3-6 months, so we could continue our conversation."
But CBS Radio's Baltimore executives didn't see it that way.
"It's still surprising to me how many people say they watched me on MASN from places way outside of Baltimore," Marks said.
So, after four years in Baltimore, Marks headed back to Florida in early 2010. That's where she grew up, and, from 2000-04, played quarterback for the Miami Fury and Florida Stingrays teams of the Women's Professional Football League.
Back in Miami, she did fill-in work at Miami sports talker WQAM.
But soon she was off to New York City to work for the New York Giants broadcast team, hosting shows on the MSG Network, as well as the Giants pre- and postgame shows on CBS sports talker WFAN radio. She also hosts shows on SiriusXM and is a fantasy football analyst for Bloomberg Sports.
In addition to all of that, Marks started her NBC Sports Radio show on Jan. 5. It runs from 12-3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Although the network doesn't yet have a Baltimore-area affiliate, its shows stream at nbcsportsradio.com and via a mobile app at tunein.com.
"It's been all football for the past three years," Marks said. "Now, I get to talk about other mainstream sports. It's fun. I love the show."
It's a solo show, with no co-host, relying on guests and callers.
"The show isn't all that different from what I did in Baltimore," Marks said. "I try to have at least one guest per show."
And those guests can run the gamut from NBA analyst Stan Van Gundy to longtime NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, who both have signed deals with NBC Sports Network.
"I try to pick the three hottest sports topics of that day," Marks said. "I then alternate the topics and see what sticks. I also try to book a guest who can lend insight. It's really exciting to be relevant."
There's an avalanche of sports networks out there right now, with new radio networks from CBS and Fox joining NBC.
"Everyone is trying to compete with ESPN," Marks said.
While Marks noted the importance of the TV side of sports media, she said her passion was sports radio. She said she wanted to continue working for a large sports organization, such as NBC, CBS or ESPN, which have so many platforms.
"I love what I'm doing," Marks said. "I love being back on sports talk radio."
Issue 182: February 2013