Is WIP still a sports station? Jim Kenney rips Howard Eskin on Philly soda tax

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If you tune in to listen to Howard Eskin on Saturdays on 94.1 WIP these days, chances are you’ll hear more about Philadelphia’s controversial sweetened-beverage tax than you will about sports.

Eskin, an outspoken critic of the levy, has been broadcasting his show from supermarkets across the area, where he regularly blasts Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney as a “bully” who, the radio host claims, has shown contempt for working class people.

On Thursday, while sporting a Brian Dawkins jersey, Kenney hopped on WIP and blasted Eskin for his one-man crusade against what the mayor views as one of his early achievements as the city’s top elected official.

“First of all, he’s in that prime spot of 8 – 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings,” Kenney said, “The show should be called ‘The sound of one fan clapping’ because no one hears it.”

Kenney blasted Eskin for not being honest with listeners about the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax being levied on sugary beverages, which went into effect back in January. According to preliminary figures released by the city, Philadelphia brought in $7 million dollars in revenue during March and $19.3 million over its first three months. It remains to early to know if Philadelphia will meet its annual revenue goal of $91 million.

“He’s fixated on this,” Kenny said, who noted that his brother wondered if WIP was still a sports radio station. “The only thing Howard is talking about is the soda tax. It’s like a two-hour soda tax commercial.”

Eskin’s show is being supported by the Pennsylvania Foods Merchants Association (PFMA), a statewide trade group that has been mounting an “Ax the Bev Tax” campaign to encourage consumers to complain to their elected representatives.

Watching the interview from the side was WIP’s program director Spike Eskin, who made it clear he supports both Kenney and his soda tax.

“I am pro-soda tax, 100 percent,” Eskin said. “I will only vote for Jim Kenney for mayor, and never anyone else with my last name.”

“Did you ever think of changing your name legally?” Kenney said, reminding everyone that the elder Eskin would have to actually move back into the city if he was serious about running for mayor.

Kenney also joked that he’d handle things differently with Eskin if he weren’t mayor of Philadelphia.

“If we were regular people sitting at a bar and he was doing that to me, there would be a consequence,” Kenney said. “But because I am an elected official, I can’t do it.”


Later in the day, Eskin joined the station’s midday show, where the outspoken host told Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie he’s made more of an impact on Philadelphia than Kenney could ever dream of.

“I challenge him to come on the air with me,” Eskin said of Kenney. “I also challenge him to come to a bar if he wants to. I’ll be on one side, he’ll be on the other. We’ll see how many people are on my side and see how many people are on his side.”

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