Bruce Cunningham and Max Morgan present themselves as ready for the challenge of proving to Baltimore that there really is room for two more television sportscasters in this six-sportscaster town.
Cunningham and Morgan are the sports guys at WBFF-TV 45's hour-long News at Ten, which debuts Monday night, and they'll have their hands full in a city where there are friends you can turn to who'll see you through and be on your side.
"This is a tremendous challenge, but it's one that Bruce and I are looking forward to," said Morgan, who will anchor sports Sunday through Thursday nights. "We realize that this isn't going to be easy and we're going to have to earn respect."
And they'll do it in a market where viewer loyalty is supreme. WBAL's Vince Bagli has outlasted sportscasters here for more than 25 years, and WJZ's John Buren and WMAR's Scott Garceau have built up followings over the last few years.
"If we went head to head with these guys, we would get killed," said Cunningham, the station's sports director. "You just don't do that."
Instead, Cunningham, 32, and Morgan, 35, will attempt to break some new ground here, by covering, for example, the smaller colleges like UMBC and Loyola while treading over familiar territory.
"We've been here for two months and we've watched everything that everybody else has done," said Cunningham. "We've noticed that there are a lot of things that sort of slip through here that we think people will be interested in."
Both Morgan and Cunningham, who have won Sportscaster of the Year awards in their previous stops, come to Baltimore from the South. Morgan had been working the last eight years at KTHV-TV in Little Rock, Ark., where he anchored sports on the 10 o'clock newscast.
Cunningham did stints in Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala., as well as a tour in Richmond, Va., where he worked for Randy Blair, a former WJZ sportscaster who died of a heart attack in January 1983.
Cunningham believes that Channel 45's newscast will have two built-in advantages. First, because the broadcast will run for an hour, as opposed to the half-hour the other three stations carry, Cunningham says they'll have five to six minutes per newscast -- about double the sports time of the 11 p.m. newscasts.
Secondly, their newscast will run at 10 p.m., a full hour before the other three.
"It's a tremendous advantage. People just don't want to stay up late for their news," said Cunningham. "Of course, we may not always have post-game comments, but that shouldn't hinder us."