I remember the first time I actually spoke to Darren “Levi” Cephas. It was the one of the first few times I hosted a show 94WIP in 2014, and it was likely around midnight. When I saw “Levi from Overbrook” pop up on the phone screen, I was thrilled.
“I made your father’s career in this town, and now I’ll make yours I guess,” Levi said to me. I laughed, and he did not. He wasn’t kidding. That’s when I realized, this is really who Levi is (even though I’d later find out Levi was not his real name).
When Jon Marks and Ike Reese occasionally had Levi stop by, he’d walk in like he owned the place. He’d almost immediately ask me when he was getting his own show. Again, he was not kidding. I do truly regret not doing that. I always figured there would be time.
When Levi passed away in August of 2018, there was an Eagles helmet sitting on the casket at his funeral. There were 94WIP hosts and our logo included in the program for all of those who attended. His close friend Ron told the story of how the name Levi came to be while he spoke at the service (to circumvent our once on the week, once on the weekends rule that we had for callers). Levi meant a lot to all of us, and we meant a lot to him.
When we were thinking about what to name the 94WIP Awards (the way the Academy Award is an Oscar), “The Levi” just seemed perfect. The magic of 94WIP is not just the people inside the station, it’s the listeners that turn our radio station into a true community. We are not just the voice of the Philadelphia sports fan because those of us who work here are fans, but because we actually give a voice to fans.
We are all in this together. Levi was one of us. Long live The Levis.
Here are some the best memories of Levi from the 94WIP Staff:
Levi loved to be involved with the station so I started bringing him in to try stuff. For Christmas one year, we had him sing some Christmas songs and then produced a Time Life type commercial called "A Very Levi Christmas" and we played his songs coming back from break during the holiday season. A few months later before Memorial Day, we had the same idea, but this time Levi karaoked some of his favorite block party songs. And now every friday before Memorial Day, we play Levi singing "This is How We Do It" and his other block party favorites.
My best Levi memory was during the Eagles Super Bowl run. He was such a huge fan and he waited his entire life to see them win. The Monday before the big game, a reporter from the Washington Post visited us at Chickies and Pete's to talk. After sharing stories and talking about the season, the reporter listened to some phones calls and asked us about our most famous callers. He wanted to talk to them. There was only one person who he needed to talk to: Levi.
A few days later, before the Super Bowl, Levi was featured in a Washington Post article talking about the Eagles and their fans. I know that meant a lot to him. Then on Super Bowl Sunday, Levi's favorite team finally won the game he's been waiting for them to win. Just a few months later, Levi passed away, but I think some of us who knew him took comfort in how much that win meant to him and we were all glad he was able to see it
There were many memorable calls from Levi, but the one I remember the most is around the holidays. I had a Christmas Carol sing off with Arthur (who is a convicted felon) who calls me and I had them go head-to-head and song-for-song. I also broke him down to make a donation to one of the charities I was raising money for and actually saw him at an event I was at and he gave me the money. Always remember he had everything figured out and one time I had him give me his number on the air so I can pass it along to the Eagles coaches which is what I told him I would do. Obviously, he got crushed with phone calls then he told me about when he called me back. But I think he actually loved it because he got people calling him.
Levi was such a classic Philadelphia sports fan and memorable WIP caller. Opinionated, passionate & intense. I felt bad one time when I had to get on his case during a call because he had just referred to Jon Ritchie on-air as a ‘marginal player.’ I thought that was disrespectful to Jon, my co-host. So I came to Ritchie’s defense. But deep down I was laughing inside because I thought it was funny that Jon’s career was summed up in one word: marginal. Levi took my bluster back at him well. Levi was a good person and a tremendous part of the fabric of WIP. I miss him.