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Media Guide: Not All Are Happy Marks Is Departing

By Dave Hughes,

The shock waves are still being felt after the January bombshell that Anita Marks, one of the top female radio sports broadcasters, is parting ways with CBS Radio's Baltimore sports talker, WJZ-FM, 105.7 The Fan, after four years. She had been co-hosting afternoon drive with longtime Baltimore sports anchor Scott Garceau.

After reportedly a month of negotiations, Baltimore sports media guru Jim Williams said the two sides could not craft an agreement to give Marks “the freedom to explore other national TV options while working for CBS Radio.”

Marks was quite popular among WJZ-FM’s advertisers, good-looking and willing to do lots of personal appearances and promotions. A number of the station’s ad clients are not happy she left the station so suddenly, with little or no warning.

Allegedly stations in markets much larger than Baltimore are interested in Marks, including New York City, Miami and Washington, D.C. and possibly Comcast SportsNet’s Mid-Atlantic network, which serves both Baltimore and Washington.

One thing is for sure: Marks did land one post-WJZ-FM gig. She did Super Bowl Week coverage for Miami sports talker WQAM.

"I had a great run in Baltimore, but in the end I had to do what is best for my career, so it is time to move on,” Marks told the Examiner’s Williams, who broke the story about her leaving WJZ-FM in mid-January.

However, not everyone was thrilled with Marks to begin with. Many 105.7 listeners are happy to see Marks go.

David Zurawik said he has noticed some "sociological undercurrents" in the huge pile of anti-Marks comments he has received since running a Baltimore Sun piece about her leaving WJZ-FM. He finds a strong hint of "sexism" from many male posters.

"I believe men will accept certain kinds of women sportscasters -- particularly ones who go out of their way to defer to male knowledge and authority. The one thing no one will ever accuse Marks of being is deferential," he wrote in his “Z on TV” blog.

Many of the hundreds of reader posts reacting to Zurawik’s piece about Marks leaving were highly unfavorable of her.

A typical example: “Thank god she's gone. ... She wouldn't have gotten out of my Broadcasting 101 class. A horrible experiment mercifully ended. I can tune in to 105.7 in the afternoons again.”

Commenting on the chemistry of the show, Garceau told the Sun the on-air tension between the two was primarily for show.

"I'm old school and she was more modern,” Garceau said. “You might hear us on-air get into a heated disagreement with a caller or something. But I think it made for good radio. And it never got adversarial with us.

“I wish her well. Despite what some listeners might have thought listening to us when we disagreed on the air, we were always friendly off the air. There was never a moment when we walked out of here and didn't like each other.”

Bob Phillips, senior vice president of operations for WJZ-FM, told the Sun the station will seek a replacement for Marks as Garceau's co-host, rather than having him soldier on alone.

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

One name that has come up as Marks’ replacement is Amber Theoharis, who has been a sports reporter for Channel 45/WBFF and now covers the Orioles and Ravens for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

While Theoharis did fill in for Garceau while he was away in Miami covering the Super Bowl in early February, MASN insists she’s staying with them.

"As one of the premier sports journalists in the country, it is understandable that Amber would be actively sought after by many media outlets,” said MASN spokesman Todd Webster. “She will be covering the Orioles fulltime for MASN again during the 2010 season."

Williams believes two in-house women at CBS Baltimore, Stacey Brown and Joanna Campbell, will get a long overdue chance to do some hosting with Garceau on 105.7 The Fan.

Stay tuned.

Issue 146: February 2010