"Change donor film," the fax machine commanded.
I looked around -- no one to help. It was just me and the machine. Mano a machino.
I called the number on the machine -- no guy came flying through the window, as in those commercials -- and somebody talked me through it. I slammed the lid down. The machine hummed and spit out a sheet of paper. I had done it.
Sure, my Evening Sun colleague, Phil Jackman, may be the TV Repairman, but I'm the Fax Repairman -- a high-tech guy for high-tech times. And because the fax is humming again, the sports department is reconnected to the outside world, from whence come these radio and television tidbits:
* You talk too much: It wasn't so long ago that Baltimore had but one sports talk show, two hours a night. Now, local radio is providing four straight hours each weeknight on three shows. Bennie the Fan, who departed WITH (1230 AM), this week resurfaced at WERQ (1010 AM) with partner Joe Croghan, who left WITH to rejoin Bennie. Their show runs 4 to 6 p.m.
Back at WITH, Kenny Albert and Jerry Coleman preside over a 5-7 p.m. show. And the mainstay, Jeff Rimer's "Sports Line" on WBAL (1090 AM), remains at 6-8 p.m.
When you add Monday's 10 p.m.-midnight "Hoops" with Stan "The Fan" Charles and Paul Baker on WCAO (600 AM), it's enough to put some callers on the DL with sprained tongues.
* Spotlight on Skipjacks: Reggie Savage and Richie Walcott of the Skipjacks will be among the guests on BET's "Budweiser Sports Report" tomorrow at 3 p.m. for a discussion of blacks in pro hockey.
* Take notes, there'll be a test later: This business of when tTC Channel 11 must join a Redskins game is a bit tricky. Let's go to the videotape. The NFL television contract stipulates that Baltimore, a Redskins peripheral market, must leave a 1 p.m. game to pick up a 4 p.m. Washington kickoff when the Redskins are on the road. When the Redskins are home and starting at 4, as was the case Sunday, Channel 11 -- though not Washington's Channel 9 -- may stay with the 1 p.m. game until its conclusion.
* Live, from the Center of the Universe: There is a Baltimore connection to the sale of New York's all-sports WFAN radio to Infinity Broadcasting. Infinity also owns the former WFBR (1300 AM), which simulcasts Washington's WJFK-FM, including the culturally uplifting Howard Stern program weekday mornings.
Would Infinity simulcast some of WFAN to Baltimore?
"We haven't discussed it," said Ken Stevens, Infinity vice president and general manager. "I wouldn't rule it out. Different formats syndicate in different ways. You have to look at it and see if it makes sense in Baltimore."
* Take my highlights, please:
The only thing wrong with Channel 2 sports anchor Scott Garceau is that he's so straight on the air. But, on Wednesday night, he loosened up. During tape of the scuffle between the Spurs' David Robinson and the Bullets' Harvey Grant, Garceau said, "He [Robinson] got married on Monday, so he still may be in a bad mood."
* GM parts: Home Team Sports gathered Baltimore and Washington's major general managers -- the Baltimore Orioles' Roland Hemond, the Redskins' Charley Casserly, the Washington Bullets' John Nash and the Washington Capitals' David Poile -- for "HTS Year in Review" (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.).
* Spreading the wealth: NBC is using three announcing teams for the NFL playoffs -- Marv Albert and Paul Maguire, Charlie Jones and Todd Christensen and Dick Enberg and Bill Walsh. CBS is using two -- Pat Summerall and John Madden and Verne Lundquist and Dan Fouts. A good CBS pair left out is James Brown and Randy Cross.
Lundquist displayed some fast thinking during Sunday's Eagles-Cowboys game. Fouts introduced a replay of the Eagles' Keith Byars by saying we would hear how it sounds when a big running back turns the corner. The replay had no audio. Lundquist said, "I guess it's a lot quieter than we expected."
It was late one night. Most of the boss' minions had gone home. He sat alone in his office, staring out the window, reflective. I entered, guessing he might want to talk. "I was just thinking about this boss business," he said. Did he harbor doubts? "Sure, I understand," I said. "You're wondering if it's all worth it. All the long hours, the aggravation, the tough decisions. The loneliness at the top, the weight of the world, uneasy is the head that wears the crown." He slowly turned in his chair. I had connected. I had touched a nerve. This was a real male bonding kind of moment. "No," he said, "I was wondering whether I should put a bigger couch in my office and install drapes."
Things My Boss Wants to Know: If Larry King says Jeff Rimer is one of hockey's top announcers, that basically settles it, right? . . . Did you ever get the feeling that one day somebody is going to haul off and punch Bill Conlin in the middle of ESPN's "The Sports Reporters"? . . . How come curling never gets consideration for CNN's Play of the Year?