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

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WIP's Howard Eskin has spent the past few weeks blasting Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney's soda tax. On Thursday, Kenney shot back.

If you listen to Howard Eskin on Saturdays on 94WIP 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 Mayor Kenney as a “bully” who, he 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 crusade against what the mayor views as one of his main achievements.

“First of all, he’s in that prime spot of 8 to 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 said Eskin had not been honest with listeners about the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, which went into effect in January. According to preliminary figures released by the city, Philadelphia brought in $7 million in revenue during March and $19.3 million over its first three months. It is too early to know if Philadelphia will meet its annual revenue goal of $91 million.

Kenney said Eskin and his show is so fixated on the soda tax that his brother wondered, "‘Is WIP still a sports station?"

"The only thing Howard is talking about is the soda tax," Kenney said. "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 program director Spike Eskin, who made it clear he supports Kenney and the soda tax, unlike his father.

“I am pro-soda tax, 100 percent,” Spike 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.

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

“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.”

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Later in the day, Howard Eskin joined the station's midday show, where he said to Joe DeCamara and Jon Ritchie that he has had more of an impact on Philadelphia than Kenney could ever dream of.

“I challenge him to come on the air with me,” Eskin said. “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.”