Youth served, but Pendola needs to grow old on facts

ON THE AIR

August 29, 1994|By MILTON KENT

Ten years from now, Rocco Pendola may be packing his microphone for a stint in the big city after a long, productive swing as talk show host at WBAL (1090 AM).

But even then, he couldn't be elected to the United States Senate.

That's because Pendola, who received an on-air tryout Friday for Jeff Rimer's slot, is 19, meaning that when the Orioles were last in postseason play in 1983, young Rocco was a third-grader.

Before the youth of Baltimore take crayon in hand to fire off letters of protest, let's acknowledge that there is nothing inherently wrong with hiring a young person for an on-air job in television or radio.

The current landscape is dotted with talented young performers, like Kenny Albert, who was announcing hockey games here on radio at age 22, or Thom Brennaman, who was calling Cincinnati Reds games when he was 25. Both will call NFL games on Fox next weekend and neither is yet 30.

But what Albert and Brennaman have that Pendola doesn't, or at least didn't display last Friday, is depth. Pendola, who works at Buffalo's WGR-AM in production and as a weekend host and weekday fill-in, appeared out of his element when it came to giving anything other than his opinion.

For instance, when a caller relayed that he had heard that the baseball owners could impose a salary cap on players next spring, Pendola's response was that he wasn't a lawyer, but advised the players to get back to work soon, if the caller was correct.

Pendola clearly hadn't done his homework, for if he had, he would have known that the impasse date is Nov. 1, not next spring, and the reason the players went out Aug. 12 was to avoid losing leverage by striking once the season was over.

In this case, WBAL would do well to consider someone who wouldn't get carded trying to buy a beer at the ballpark.

On the other hand . . .

Interestingly enough, a couple members of the younger crowd provided some of the most compelling pictures and words this past weekend.

Take 18-year-old Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, whose toothy grin provided the punctuation to an exciting final round of the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship on ESPN. For once, hypemaster Brent Musburger may have been on to something when he asked whether Woods, who won the 36-hole final by two shots, could be the next golf superstar.

Then there was 13-year-old Maria Sansone, back for her second year as sideline reporter on ABC's coverage of the Little League World Series on Saturday.

Sansone was precocious without being annoying and she had a priceless comeback when Northridge catcher Matt Cunningham told her that he wore green underwear to each game for luck.

"Why don't you keep that to yourself?" Sansone said.

Good advice.

Backstage at camp

With less than a week to go before it broadcasts its first regular-season NFL game, Fox gets you ready tonight (Channel 45, 9 o'clock) with an intriguing one-hour behind-the-scenes look at training camp.

"NFL All-Access," with analyst John Madden as host, takes the viewer to the Minnesota, Dallas and Arizona training camps with only the words and images of the participants to tell their stories.

One of the most compelling stories is that of Iowa rookie defensive tackle Mike Wells, who, in a phone call home, relates his day in camp, from the indignity of having to sing before his teammates to getting tips and encouragement from fellow lineman Henry Thomas.

"NFL All-Access" might be the best football coverage on a Monday night all year.

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