Orioles agree on deal to keep games on WBAL for three years

Media Watch

November 22, 1996|By Milton Kent

The Orioles and WBAL (1090 AM) yesterday announced a deal that will keep the team's games on the 50,000-watt station ** for the next three years.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the team will likely receive in excess of $3 million per year from WBAL.

The deal brings to an end a hotly contested negotiation that involved at least two other broadcast entities -- Infinity, which controls four stations in Baltimore as well as the Ravens' radio rights, and a consortium of WCBM (680 AM) and WQSR (105.7 FM).

In the long run, team officials, led by Michael Lehr, executive director of marketing and broadcasting, made the wise decision -- that the tradition of baseball on WBAL, which has carried the Orioles for 31 of the 43 seasons they've been in Baltimore, and the power of the station's signal were worth keeping.

"You always have to look at all your options and we did that, but it was important that there's a sense of history with the club and with WBAL, and you certainly can't overlook the power of that signal. Those were strong factors in their favor," said Lehr.

Lehr said the team and the station have discussed the possibility of new, additional off-season Orioles programming that would be made available to the other 29 radio affiliates. He said the team has talked to officials at WTOP (1500 AM), the Washington-based, 50,000-watt carrier about continuing their relationship.

Now that the carrier has been decided, the next choice to be made is who will actually announce the games, a selection made all the more critical by the departure of Jon Miller for San Francisco earlier this month.

The Orioles and WBAL will jointly decide on the announcing team, and will begin the process after next week's Thanksgiving holiday. Neither Lehr nor Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL's vice president and station manager, expressed a concern that owner Peter Angelos' recent comments that Miller needed, in his view, to "bleed orange and black," will affect the quality of candidates who will apply for the jobs. "There is no doubt in my mind that whomever is selected will do a terrific job, and will be credible both for the fans and the club. That's the way we wanted it and that's the way the Orioles want it," said Beauchamp.

Said Lehr: "This is one of the most desirable jobs in baseball and all of sports. We're not looking for a homer. We're looking for an advocate for the club. We will have everybody and their brother applying for a spot and they'll be coming from all over." The club has already tapped Home Team Sports to be its cable carrier and is expected to announce that Channel 13, which like HTS is owned by Westinghouse, will air a package of over-the-air games.

You put what where?

During some of his recent HBO fights, super middleweight champion Roy Jones Jr. has taken viewer questions before a bout and played point guard in a professional basketball game a few hours prior to a fight.

For tonight's light heavyweight title fight against Mike "The Body Snatcher" McCallum from the Ice Palace in Tampa, Fla., Jones will wear a microphone during the 12-round match. As for where that microphone might be placed, let's not go there.

In other HBO doings, this week's "Inside the NFL" program, airing tonight at 7 p.m. and tomorrow at 11 a.m., features a segment that explores what has happened to former Colts defensive lineman Bubba Smith.

From hoops to nuts

It's a college basketball tripleheader tonight on ESPN, which commences at 7: 30 with the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, pitting Arizona against North Carolina from Springfield, Mass., followed by two second-round games in the preseason National Invitation Tournament at 9: 30 and midnight.

The Washington Bullets make one of their two scheduled network appearances tonight, at home against Philadelphia at 8 p.m. on TNT, with Bob Neal and Chuck Daly on the call.

The Holtz watch

As you might expect, the last home game of Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz tomorrow will draw a fair amount of attention. NBC (Channel 11) will have the game against Rutgers at 12: 30.

Included in the day's proceedings is an interview Bob Costas conducted with Holtz. ESPN's Chris Fowler also chatted with the soon-to-depart coach, and that interview will air during "College GameDay" at 11: 30 a.m.

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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