Fox, NBC put differences aside for halftime stunt

Media Watch

January 15, 1996|By MILTON KENT

It wasn't all that long ago -- last summer in fact -- when NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol was equating the Fox network with a "pushcart" while his Fox colleague David Hill was calling Ebersol "puerile."

Maybe it took winter's chill to make the two men grasp how much they had in common and how much they truly needed each other.

Yeah, right.

More likely, yesterday's stunt at halftime of the AFC championship game, in which the cast of Fox's pre-game show appeared with the gang from NBC, was a cute little trick to keep viewers from heading out of the room, or worse, channel-surfing.

Since both networks assigned almost all their football crews to the championship game sites, Pittsburgh and Dallas, respectively, Ebersol thought it would be neat to get an NFC pre-game report from Fox's Terry Bradshaw, James Brown, Jimmy Johnson and Howie Long at halftime of the AFC game -- a broadcasting first. Hill reportedly laughed at Ebersol's initial suggestion on Friday, until he realized that his NBC counterpart was serious. Hill then agreed, and the two networks worked out the logistics, keeping most of the announcers in the dark until late Saturday.

"They were a little surprised, to say the least," said Fox spokesman Lou D'Ermilio.

The highlights of the spot were a reunion of sorts between NBC's Greg Gumbel and Bradshaw, who used to work together on "The NFL Today" at CBS, and some tongue-in-cheek barbs for Johnson, who will be leaving Fox to coach the Miami Dolphins, from former coaches Joe Gibbs and Mike Ditka.

Down the road, however, D'Ermilio said Hill indicated he was amenable to some sort of cooperation between the two networks when they grab shares of baseball's postseason this year.

All that's left is for both sides to link arms and sing "Kum By Yah" in a prime-time special with, say, Kathie Lee Gifford as the host during the February sweeps.

Don't laugh. It could happen.

By the way, given that rather touching and profane dedication Pittsburgh linebacker Greg Lloyd had in the locker room as the AFC championship trophy was being presented yesterday, let's hope NBC keeps the microphone away from him if the Steelers win the Super Bowl.

Dumping the trash

Scott Ferrall, whose syndicated radio show airs nightly on WJFK (1300 AM), has been dumped from his original station, KNBR-AM in San Francisco, for ripping his former station manager on the air.

Citing an unhappiness with the content and quality of Ferrall's rather noxious show, KNBR's Bob Agnew had intended to move the show to a 1 a.m. local time slot, to which Ferrall responded on the air, "I will dedicate my life to ruining that little wuss," meaning Agnew.

Agnew then dropped Ferrall's program, replacing it with ESPN Radio's "Fabulous Sports Babe."

Ferrall's show is part of a distasteful trend in radio, where it's not enough to just disagree with a person's thoughts or to criticize their actions.

In the minds of Ferrall and others like him, a person on the other side of the mike is to be destroyed and humiliated, for nothing more than the sake of picking up a few more listeners. It's nice to see someone like Agnew saying "Enough."

Miscellany

Here are a few things off the beaten track to watch and listen for on this holiday Monday:

* In case you missed the five or so minutes that former local high school stars Shawnta Rogers and Kwame Evans were on during Saturday's George Washington-Missouri basketball game, you'll get another chance tonight when the Colonials meet Virginia Tech at 9:30 on ESPN2.

* Two of last season's women's Final Four teams, Georgia and defending champion Connecticut, meet this afternoon at 4 p.m. on ESPN, one of only three live NCAA women's games all season on the network, the self-proclaimed home of women's basketball. Tonight, the Notre Dame men get a real introduction to the Big East when they play host to Georgetown (ESPN, 7:30).

* Ted Patterson of WWLG (1360 AM) will preside over a simulcast tonight from 8 to 9 with Cleveland's all-sports WKNR radio station, with callers from both cities joining a discussion of the nation's trade imbalance with Andorra.

Just kidding.

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