Just got done listening to Marc Rosen’s call in to Drew on Thursday morning in our audio vault.
If nothing, it provided great comedy, this fool calling in to try to make a fool of Drew, only to find out rather quickly that he’s in over his head. The dude brought it on himself by bending the truth, back-peddling and saying things that were almost silly. And Drew kinda effortlessly — almost inadvertently — pulled his pants down!
(Not that I need to have ANY of my hosts’ backs — they’re ALL GREAT and beautiful in their own way — but Drew isn’t just some "schmuck" on the radio in the mornings. He’s done sports media relations, sports marketing, sports scouting, sports hiring/firing/waiving/trading/cutting/drafting and ticket sales and promotions at a VERY high level since he was 19 years old! Plus, by being from Glen Burnie and knowing Charlie Eckman from "a kid up," he’s been able to spot a bull—–er from a mile away since 1982!)
I don’t chime in very often about the "business" side of WNST and if you ask anyone around my place, they’d tell you that it’s ALL I DO here…business, all day, every day of my life.
So, here’s my "official" response. It’s lengthy because it NEEDS to be.
For those of you who "care to know" about the differences between WNST and CBS Radio in general…and what makes ME running WNST different from a guy named Bob Phillips, who runs CBS Radio…here goes:
First, it almost smacked of Rosen’s little way of "promoting his show" during morning rush hour on behalf of Anita Marks and CBS Radio, as much as "defending" Ray Lewis, who can defend himself as far as I can tell. That’s fine. He can promote away but he can’t make her what she’s not — listenable to anyone who truly knows Baltimore sports!
Anita Marks as a sports talk show host in Baltimore is a complete joke. She knows virtually nothing about Baltimore sports and I honestly "as a Baltimore sports fan first" think she’s a fraud and so do almost every one of my peers.
But if that’s where Rosen and Ray and Ray’s mom think he should be — on the most UN-authentic show in the entire market — then God bless them! The people will judge it for what it is. Many will like Ray and Anita together and, I’m sure, send me nasty emails. Many others will continue to walk up to me from one end of the city to the other and ask ME what the hell Anita’s doing on a sports radio station to begin with.
She’s got a great gig, doing this sports radio thing. Honestly, I admire her ability to market herself into the job to begin with — but her show is dreadful by almost any measure of a true Baltimore sports fan. (She’s NOT a Baltimore sports fan or expert in any way! This is NOT a personal attack, just an observation from a kid from Dundalk who has followed sports here since 1972. I’ve been told she’s a nice lady and I’m sure she is! We’d probably drink a beer, laugh and have fun if we knew each other. But I only know her from the 10 minutes a month of her show that I hear/see and always get the random email when she trashes me like she "knows" me! LOL!)
For the record: Marc Rosen didn’t call me or offer to do it on WNST or offer to have Drew or Bob or Rob or Michael or ANYONE here a chance to spend an hour a week with Ray and ask him quality questions and make quality conversation with him about Baltimore, Baltimore football history, etc. Like I said, we here at WNST know where we rate with everyone in the marketplace. We were not on his "Ray-dar" and that’s cool. They made their call. At least we know where we stand, right?
Sure, I think it’s foolish for Ray to be on CBS Radio and on with Anita Marks, but it’s HIS show. He could’ve done WBAL or here and more people would’ve heard it here and it would have been a better show, but I suppose Ray thinks WE’RE the joke, I dunno? But if you’re asking me whether our station/website are better than CBS Radio as a "business choice," or whether ANY of our hosts would be a better "fit" to spend an hour publicly with Ray, I mean, it’s not even a fair question?
In my heart and soul, I believe what we do here is superior in every way imaginable.
And if Ray is OK with charging $25 for a VIP admission, I am too. It’s HIS name on it, not mine. God bless him if he gets it. It’s all about money and economics. Too bad for the folks who can’t afford it or don’t want to pay it. It’s almost like a front row Van Halen concert ticket. It’s what the market bears.
But as a Baltimore sports fan FIRST, there’s NO WAY I would’ve allowed him to do it on WNST, not even if it meant killing a chance to have him on my station. It’s just a foolish, stupid, "out of town" move. It’s just bad PR and Ray doesn’t need ANY more of that — EVER!
(Here’s MY plug: Our show is free. We’ll have some Ravens there, hopefully. Some stars, some superstars, some role players — whatever — they’re all the same to me. I’ve NEVER been "out-guested" on Monday nights and the best guests and most interesting people aren’t always the biggest stars. It doesn’t make my "muscles" bigger to have Ray Lewis or anyone else. I just like talking to the guys, getting to know them a bit as human beings, and having some laughs and sharing our love of Baltimore football and conviviality. I think you’d be VERY hard-pressed to find a bigger or more authentic Ravens fan or a more knowledgeable person on this planet regarding the Ravens than me. PERIOD! And I LOVE the team for all the right reasons. I’m pure of heart.
I — along with virtually every member of my staff down to the INTERNS — have FORGOTTEN more about football, Baltimore football and the Ravens than Anita Marks will ever know…that’s just a FACT!
I was here when Ray Lewis got here, and — God willing — I’ll be here when he’s gone. I’ll be a Ravens fan until I die or until a guy like Peter Angelos buys the team and wrecks them! LOL!
It’s been this way since 1996 and I’ll be doing Monday Night Lives with Ravens players as long as I’m allowed to legally, CAN physically and mentally, and as long as it’s a joy to do it and someone wants to hear it and MOST IMPORTANTLY, as long as players want to come and hang out … I have never paid a player to do it and no player has ever asked me for money! And yes, we make money on Monday Night Lives through sponsors who help us keep our lights on and feed our families. If we don’t make money there IS no WNST! We make the show a joy for the players — something special — and our fans are supercool and we’ve weeded out all of the autograph ninnies/ebay money whores over the years and we INVITE them to go elsewhere! We want to keep the show for fun for everyone!)
But back to Ray Lewis and barbeque and smarmy agents who don’t know anything about Baltimore but come on the radio, try to make a fool out of my hosts … and fail miserably!
Here’s my take: Ray should honestly be using better judgment and should be getting better advice. But Ray has never really been great at taking advice "off" of the football field. And it’s a shame that he gets bad advice on some matters and associates with people who see dollar signs when they see him instead of trying to do EVERYTHING possible to make sure that statues are built here and children are named after him. The money would obviously follow!
Geez, he’s Ray Lewis — you could make an argument that he’s one of the five greatest players in the HISTORY OF THE GAME!!!!!
I have never attempted to make a nickel off Ray Lewis’ name. If he ever wanted to do a show with me or on WNST, then the door was always open (I made this clear to him many times) and I didn’t need to make a dime on it. For his barbeque, for K Bank (who also helps us feed our families and who sponsors THIS blog!), whatever … I understand business and respect anyone who makes money legally, ethically and fairly. Your product and the market will decide your fate (see Peter Angelos and sons). I’ve been here 15 years, and God willing, will be here until I don’t want to do this or until I die. I love Baltimore and I love sports and this is the way I feed my family and the families of the 20 people who work here.
Ray’s "post-career" here in Baltimore is still up for debate. It’s not cool around here to bring up "Atlanta," but it’s been almost eight years and I NEVER go ANYWHERE on the road where a reporter or the fans don’t bring it up — and not kindly. He gets CRUSHED outside of Baltimore, just CRUSHED!
If Ray’s not creating a post-football career here in the media or in local business, he certainly won’t be doing it anywhere else. Because, for better or worse, he’s Batimore’s guy. It’s here or nowhere for him. He’s just "another guy" in Miami, one of many, many superstars there. And his network gigs have been less than inspiring and maybe he’s working with CBS Radio to get better … I dunno?
But HERE … he SHOULD be THE MAN! Now and forever!
But — Atlanta not withstanding (and I defended him the morning after the murders on at least 20 radio stations across America NOT TO MENTION my own show, which was on in 240 cities … and I defended him AGAIN in "Purple Reign" … the book is under the NOSTALGIA bar above or the graphic below this blog (a click away)…my feelings are ALL well-documented) — Ray has done some very, very foolish things over the years; the things that guys like Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson, Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, Jim Palmer, Tom Matte, Elrod Hendricks, Art Donovan, Pam Shriver (and fill in anyone else who has made post-sports-career fame/love/iconic status a cottage industry here) DIDN’T or WOULDN’T DREAM of doing!
The 6-10 debacle and December Florida "walkout" two years ago really stunk. The way he’s treated various kind/helpful/decent people on occasion here in Baltimore (Scott Garceau, Wendy Herr and others) really stinks too. He treated me like a piece of garbage in Detroit early last year.
And as much as he was coddled here in 2000 and treated with kid gloves even amidst the "Atlanta incident," he’s never been tremendously warm and fuzzy to ANY of us in Baltimore who STAUNCHLY — and I MEAN STAUNCHLY — defended him when the rest of the country was calling him a bloody murderer. I ALWAYS had his back. ALWAYS!
I’ve been doing Monday Night Live for 12 seasons. Ray Lewis was my FIRST guest EVER on a Budweiser Monday Night Live show at The Barn. It was 24 hours after I left Memorial Stadium after one of the greatest sporting events of my life — the Ravens’ first game against the Oakland Raiders. Ray Lewis ate his first crab cake that night. He bought crabs at The Barn ALL THE TIME in the early days. He came and did the show a few times the first few years. (If you care to read more, the book "Purple Reign" has a whole chapter on my "early" relationship with Ray Lewis, Atlanta, etc. and how I felt in March 2001.)
So, here’s my deal on Ray, circa 2007:
I LOVE Ray Lewis. The mere fact that Ray Lewis plays on the Baltimore Ravens has brought me more joy, more fun, more victories and more personal and professional success and prosperity than I really deserve as a kid from Dundalk who lost his football team when he was 15 and never EVER, EVER thought he’d ever get another one. The Ravens and Art Modell were TRULY God’s gift to me as a guy who was doing sports radio in November 1995 and I was just in the "right place at the right time." I owe this radio station and any and all of my good fortune over the last decade to Art Modell, Jon Ogden, Ray Lewis, Kevin Byrne, Marvin Lewis, Brian Billick, Ozzie Newsome and anyone else who ever made this franchise so great that it’s made my radio station more interesting and my life so much fun. (Consider what the Orioles have become and life without football here next week?)
I’m INDEBTED to Ray Lewis and will be for the rest of my life! The Ravens might’ve drafted Leland McElroy that day (another chapter in the book)!
But Ray Lewis has proven to be a very mercurial, if not simply "uneven" person over the 11 years I’ve known him since meeting him at his tiny cubicle on 33rd Street about five minutes after the win over the Raiders when he was cutting off tape and told me he’d love to do my Monday Night Show. (One day, I’ll find the tape and platform it on the site for all of you to hear! He was a beautiful guy, that kid named Ray Lewis who talked of being in the Hall of Fame THAT NIGHT! He was special from the minute he hit the field that day!)
He went from totally trusting me … to avoiding me … to not liking me (or anyone else in the Baltimore media after Atlanta) … to being a World Champion … to finding God and making absolute peace with me in Phoenix a few years back … to me being "just another guy" … to being cordial again … to him promising to do the show but never really doing it … to using my station as a platform to sell barbeque … to "pretending" he doesn’t even know my name … to now, taking the only legitimate radio show he’s ever done to some women from Miami who was "handpicked" by his mother and his agent, and the out-of-town corporate whores who have made ABSOLUTE war with Steve Bisciotti and the Ravens organization since they were "fired" by Dick Cass after the 2005 season for basically, being lousy to begin with.
And I’ll the while, I’ve simply loved watching Ray Lewis play football and wanted to see good things happen for him OFF the field after Atlanta, because I ALWAYS thought he was scapegoated/railroaded a little bit and I hear all the lousy stuff that gets screamed at him on the road.
Honestly, if doing the Anita Marks show helps his cache, that’s great for him. If his restaurant does well, that’s great for him, too.
What’s great for Ray Lewis is great for WNST in the long haul. Because we’re HERE for the long haul. We buy green bananas here.
He’s not hurting WNST one iota as far as a I can tell. And I just want him to have a great season because it’s a lot more fun to root FOR him than AGAINST him, even if it does "personally" hurt my feelings that I didn’t even get a phone call inquiry. But, quite frankly, I’m not surprised an iota either. It’s just kinda the way it is with Ray, honestly. Ray’s been "hurting my feelings" for about eight years. I just honestly don’t know why, other than to say that he’s gotten some more "bad advice" on me and/or WNST.
I ALWAYS pull for Ray Lewis and hope that he finds happiness. He’s had a VERY rocky ride with fame and fortune and his path to Canton is certainly MUCH, MUCH different than, say, Jon Ogden’s has been. But Ray has made much of his own bed, here and around the country.
Ray Lewis probably thinks I’m a jerk, and I have no idea why because I’m cool with virtually every single person in the building in Owings Mills and have been since Day One (except for one person in the administration who thinks I’m a jerk as well, but whatever, right?). I get along famously with anyone who is smart, kind, funny or cordial. In general, I avoid the people who don’t like me. What’s the point, right?
But I have no enemies in the Ravens’ organization and I always seek to take the higher road. And I’m the same guy, for the most part, that I was the day I met him in that dank, smelly, cramped locker room under the first base dugout of Memorial Stadium. If anything, my love for the Ravens and my appreciation for all that "the purple bird" has given me grows every day.
The people who matter there and here at WNST know "my soul" and that’s good enough for me. Like Popeye, "I’yam what I’yam!"
If Ray Lewis wants to be on CBS Radio and seriously thinks that’s a "great business decision," then God bless him. If K Bank wants to sponsor him, that’s great. If he wants to bring Anita Marks in to help HER cache, that’s fine too. I hope he sells a lot of barbeque and that whatever his post-football deal here will be is as successful (but not as controversial) as his play on the field has been since that day against the Raiders on 33rd Street in 1996 when we all fell in love with the way he played football.
We’ll do our thing … and they’ll do theirs. There’s room for everyone to love the Ravens.
But there’s a SIGNIFICANT difference between our "soul" and WJFK/CBS Radio.
And if you DON’T see that, then the joke is on YOU!
We are real, authentic Baltimoreans who love the Ravens and care about this community and EVERY action we EVER take represents and respects that and our mission statement as a organization.
And other real, authentic Baltimoreans like us will always sniff out the difference between the truth and the smelly brown poop from the cow’s rectum.
So, as always, this is what I think.
You are free to your own opinion and I appreciate you caring enough to get this far into this lengthy missive.
But I just felt like I needed to tell the WNST readers what’s on my mind.
I can’t wait for next Monday!