Palmer squeezing into the HTS booth

RADIO TV

February 28, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

Jim Palmer might be on his way to becoming the next Phil Donahue -- are you there, caller? -- but he's not getting out of baseball.

Home Team Sports has added Palmer to its announcing team. Palmer, bounced from Channel 2's telecasts for financial reasons, will work about 25 of HTS' 90 Orioles games, principally as a second analyst with former Orioles teammate John Lowenstein, though sometimes filling in on play-by-play for Mel Proctor.

"Not that I wouldn't have liked to continue at WMAR, but HTS does do a terrific job," Palmer said yesterday.

"A decision I had to make was whether I wanted to do TBS or ESPN. I live in Baltimore. I wanted to stay home."

HTS is scheduled to telecast 20 games outside of OPACY (that's the abbreviation for Oriole Park at Camden Yards being used by one-quarter of the people in my home).

Palmer said he could have been ESPN's analyst on its Wednesday night games, but that would have meant three days per week on the road. With TBS, he said, he would have had to move to Atlanta to do 100-plus Braves games.

And neither schedule would have fit in with tapings of "Living Today with Jim Palmer," a talk show that a Philadelphia production company is shopping around to syndicators and networks. Palmer described the show as "kind of counter-tabloid programming."

"ESPN does a very good job, but to go away for three days wouldn't be the thing to do with the TV show," said Palmer, whose first telecast on HTS probably will be an exhibition game March 26. "If the show doesn't work, I'll do baseball full time next year."

How will his arrival affect HTS' telecasts? Generally, three in a booth is one too many. Lowenstein has been given lots of room by Proctor, but that room is going to be subdivided when Palmer is on the air.

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Team players: It has a catchy name ("The Team"), a spot on the dial (570 AM) and a key property (the Washington Redskins), but WTEM, a Washington all-sports station scheduled to go on the air in April, apparently has no announcers yet.

Phil Wood -- familiar to Washington listeners from his days on D.C. radio before moving to various Baltimore stations that subsequently changed formats, went broke or were swallowed by whales -- would seem to be a likely candidate to be a talk show host on WTEM, but Wood

said he hasn't been contacted by the station.

It's still early in the game for WTEM, which is operating with an interim general manager as it transforms from simulcasting classical music from WGMS-FM (the station has been WGMS-AM). Beyond the Redskins, the station has obtained Washington radio rights to several other events and leagues: major-league baseball (including the All-Star Game, playoffs and World Series), the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, NFL (including the playoffs and Super Bowl), U.S. Open tennis, Masters golf and Summer Olympics.

In addition, The Washington Post reported yesterday that WTEM wants to carry the Orioles, though the team is locked into another two seasons on WTOP (1500 AM). If WTEM were to pursue the Washington Bullets and Washington Capitals, it would have to separate the clubs from stations -- WTOP and WMAL (630 AM), respectively -- with which they appear satisfied.

But what does this mean for Baltimore listeners? That depends on where you live and what time of day it is. WTEM's signal is 5,000 watts during the day and 1,000 watts at night, and stations on the low end of the dial are supposed to carry well. In daylight, I was able to pick up 570 AM clearly while about 15 miles northwest of downtown. At night, while trying to listen to the station downtown, I heard mostly static. In fact, New York's all-sports WFAN came in about the same.

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Go to the tape: Not to get too much into a Washington mode, but -- as Vin Scully would say if he were writing this (and he's not; I checked the picture) -- it's interesting to note that Warner Wolf is headed back to D.C., replacing the late Glenn Brenner on Channel 9. It's a choice that has the approval of Channel 11's Vince Bagli.

"He's been an entertaining guy with good knowledge," Bagli said. "I don't think he takes himself seriously. Warner's going to come back, and he's not going to be another Glenn."

Wolf left Washington in 1976 for ABC, then moved on to New York television. Wolf, set to start in June, will be paid a reported $1.1 million per year by WUSA.

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