Ravens radio: It's not the NFL as Baltimore used to hear it

Media Watch

September 17, 1996|By MILTON KENT

When last we left the Colts (or more accurately, when last the Colts left Baltimore), their games on the radio were simply produced affairs, aired on good old AM with the voices of a generation, Chuck Thompson and Vince Bagli, behind the microphones, calling lots of action.

For Charm City's return to football, we have Ravens games in stereo, simulcasted on two outlets, WLIF (101.9 FM) and WJFK (1300 AM), with lots of technical wizardry -- some of which doesn't always work -- and three voices calling lots of action and setting up lots of sponsorships and commercials.

Lots of commercials. So many sponsors. Everything from the pre-game "quote of the week" to the two-minute warning and all that falls in the middle gets a sponsor's mention, and the commercials are piled high, like so much lettuce on a sandwich.

This is not your father's football broadcast and doesn't even remotely resemble, say, the Orioles presentation on WBAL. With rock music blaring at every break and during some of the programming itself, not to mention the younger voices during all the shows, Infinity is clearly making a break with the past.

Most of it is good, especially the parabolic sideline microphones that pick up all of the field action, and in stereo, to boot. The pairing of Scott Garceau and Bruce Cunningham in the booth is an interesting one, as both are known to listeners in this area as play-by-play men, through their work with the Stallions, on television and radio, respectively.

That role goes to Garceau in this set-up, and the sports director at Channel 2 is up to the challenge, with a competent, if not exciting, call. We might ask for a faster identification of players, but Garceau is sure and steady and a good traffic cop.

Cunningham, the sports director at Channel 45, has a puckish sense of humor and a good sense of the game, but doesn't get zTC to show either much, since his duties seem to announce the sponsors and set up third man Tom Matte for deeper analysis.

Meanwhile, the former Colt running back has improved immensely from his days as analyst on Stallions games, making trenchant points and keeping the use of "we" to a bare minimum.

At two hours, the pre-game show, with Steve Davis, Ken Rosenthal and Bruce Laird, is about 60 minutes too long, as the three tend to make the same points to fill the time, though its length also may be a function of Infinity's need to recoup some of its payout by offering more opportunities to advertisers.

The post-game wrap-up show, meanwhile, moves along at a brisk pace, with Greg Sher and Laird providing instant analysis. As for the call-in program that follows, let's say that while Nestor Aparicio's shtick may not appeal to many, his Infinity performance, with informed interaction and an absence of vitriol, is infinitely preferable to his nightly program on WWLG (1360 AM).

Ratings recap

Ravens ratings were again off from last week, though the fall was not as large as from the first week.

According to Chris Mecchi Channel 13's numbers czar and this week's sole and official "Media Watch" ratings provider, Sunday's Ravens-Houston game got a 13.3 rating and 33 share of the audience, down from the 16.6/36 for the previous Sunday's meeting with Pittsburgh, and dramatically off from the 18.9/48 for the first week.

Like last week, the Orioles game on Home Team Sports probably took a chunk out of the Ravens' audience. The Orioles' numbers were not immediately available.

Coming to terms

The Washington Bullets and Capitals yesterday announced new radio deals, with WWRC (980 AM) and WTEM (570 AM), respectively, to run through the 1998-99 season. Both teams will retain their announcers and will also be heard on WWLG.

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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