Roberts will break TV ground

ON THE AIR

November 18, 1994|By MILTON KENT

This weekend will be fairly noteworthy for women sports announcers, with two -- count 'em, two -- all-female crews reporting on live network televised events.

Sunday's Virginia Slims tennis championships from New York's TC Madison Square Garden (1 p.m., Channel 13) will feature ESPN's Robin Roberts, on a one-day loan to ABC, doing the play-by-play, with Betsy Nagelson and Pam Shriver doing analysis, with a possible booth visit from the newly retired Martina Navratilova.

Roberts, who called last March's women's East regional finals in the NCAA tournament, is playing down the significance of her achievement Sunday, as she will be the first African-American woman to take on play-by-play duties for an over-the-air network sports telecast.

"There's some historical meaning for what I'm doing Sunday, sure, but that won't be the focus," said Roberts earlier this week. "I've never made myself the object of a broadcast. Yes, I am a black woman doing play-by-play, but I'm working at a tennis tournament. That's the story."

Meanwhile, ESPN kicks off its coverage of women's basketball with two potentially dynamic games tomorrow and Sunday, also announced by three women -- play-by-play announcer Beth Mowlins, analyst Mimi Griffin and sideline reporter Christine Brennan.

The games -- No. 2 Purdue vs. fifth-ranked Stanford tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. and top-ranked Tennessee against No. 3 Louisiana Tech Sunday at 1 p.m. -- match teams that met in last year's NCAA tournament, in this year's Hall of Fame Tip Off Classic from Jackson, Tenn.

Ratings and stuff

Last Sunday's Dallas-San Francisco game did monster numbers in both the national and local Nielsen ratings and helped propel Fox into a flat-footed tie with NBC in the seasonal football ratings race.

The Cowboys-49ers clash got a 15.1 national rating and a 28 share of the audience, which combined with the 14.8/35 for the early game totaled an impressive 14.9/32 for the day and moved Fox's season's ratings to 11.8/28, tying it with NBC, which had led for the first 10 weeks.

Fox's performance, in which it made up a three-tenths of a ratings point in one afternoon, is all the more impressive weighed against the fact that the Dallas game was not seen in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Boston, all top 10 markets.

Locally, Andre "Dr. Dre" DeVerneil, Channel 13's numbers cruncher and this week's official "On the Air" ratings supplier, says the Dallas-San Francisco game did a 13.9/26 for Channel 45, the best of the year for any Sunday afternoon game, and the 1 p.m. San Diego-Kansas City game garnered an 8.2/21 for Channel 2, topping Channel 45's offering of Chicago-Miami, which drew a 5.1/13.

Bushels of basketballs

The NBA is in the air and everywhere this weekend.

Let's start with tomorrow night's "SportsRap" on WEAA (88.9 FM) at 7 p.m., which has interviews with Washington Bullets center Kevin Duckworth and LaRian Finney, the team's Baltimore operations manager, in advance of next Friday's game at the Arena.

On Saturday, NBC (Channel 2) airs a "Hoop It Up" special at 5 p.m. that features a story on former Seton Hall star Ramon Ramos, who was involved in a near-fatal car accident that left him in a coma for more than two months and unable to pursue a professional career.

Gridiron offerings

Tomorrow's college football doubleheader, Michigan-Ohio State at noon and Auburn-Alabama at 3:30, both on Channel 13, looks attractive. On Sunday, the Redskins and Cowboys do battle on Channel 45 at 1 p.m., followed by Philadelphia-Arizona at 4 p.m.

Channel 2 brings you the New York Jets-Minnesota Vikings game at about 4:30, preceded by some Canadian Football League playoff game or other at 1:30.

Something completely different

Baltimore native Vincent Pettway, the recently crowned IBF junior middleweight boxing champion, will appear on Channel 13's "On Time" public affairs show Sunday at 10 a.m., as a part of the show's series of programs on parenting.

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