Channel 45 to air out coverage with expanded sports segments

Media Watch

September 12, 1997|By Milton Kent

Once upon a time, news directors at your local television station actually gave their sportscasters a goodly amount of time in a newscast to tell stories and show highlights, but in these "SportsCenter" days, your local TV sports guy spends as much time on camera as model Kate Moss does at the buffet table.

That's why Channel 45/54 news director Joe DeFeo deserves a hearty thumbs-up for devoting an entire 10 minutes -- all right, 6 1/2 when you factor out commercials -- to sports, starting Monday on Channel 45's 10 p.m. newscast.

" 'Sports Unlimited' [the station's Sunday night sports wrap-up show] has become a fairly popular half-hour show, and we wanted to extend that franchise to seven days a week," said DeFeo. "We think Baltimore is a good sports town, and it wants to have a little more in-depth coverage."

The 6 1/2 minutes that weeknight anchor Bruce Cunningham and weekend guy Steve Davis will have is about double what their competitors have, although, in fairness, Channel 45's hourlong show is double the length of the 11 p.m. newscasts on other stations.

But, though all of the VHF stations -- channels 2, 11 and 13 -- have more total news time each weekday than 45/54, none of them has done much in terms of adding time to weeknight sports reports, even with the addition of an NFL team to the landscape. It's almost as if they've told local viewers to get a newspaper and cable television and fend for themselves for in-depth sports coverage.

"We've decided to do it a little differently. What you've seen in some cases is a sports hole shrink down to two minutes," said DeFeo. "With shows like 'SportsCenter,' I can understand why a news director would do that, but 'SportsCenter' can't give you the more personal stories and local coverage. We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't think the interest was there."

Channel 45 has apparently pried Ravens receiver Michael Jackson away from Channel 11 to do a Tuesday night segment, and will use radio talk show host Stan "The Fan" Charles as a voice of the fans, as well as continued contributions from NFL analyst Tom Matte and Sun baseball writer Peter Schmuck.

Back in the game

Tomorrow's season premiere of college football on CBS also signals the return of a studio football show, absent from the network since the NFL walked four years ago.

Jim Nantz will be the host of "College Football Today," with analysis coming from the excellent Craig James and former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz. The show will precede the Arizona State-Miami game at 3 p.m. on Channel 13.

"The framework [of a studio show] never left us," said CBS executive producer Terry Ewert. "It's good to be back in the studio business, if for no other reason than to prove to the rest of the business that we can do this."

Griese's kid stuff

When No. 7 Colorado plays host to No. 13 Michigan today (Channel 2, noon), ABC analyst Bob Griese will have a heightened interest in the goings-on.

That's because his son, Brian, will get his first start at quarterback for the Wolverines, and the elder Griese will have a prime seat and a microphone.

"I told him that if he plays well, I'll say it and if he plays poorly, I'll say it," said Griese, a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Miami Dolphins, who joked, "If he throws an interception, that was his doing, and if he throws a touchdown, that was something that I had a hand in."

All kidding aside, this shapes up to be a dicey situation for Griese and ABC. The situation came up in a game last year in which Brian Griese came off the bench to replace an injured starter in the Ohio State game, but in this case, Bob Griese and the network know going in that there's the potential for a conflict of interest.

"The fact is, I think people would want to know my emotions. You don't want to spend the whole game talking about it, but maybe a mention at the beginning and then something at the end. The rest of the time, it will be straight and narrow," said Griese.

Around the dial

ESPN's "College GameDay" heads to Boulder, Colo., for the Wolverines-Buffaloes showdown at 11 a.m. tomorrow and among the planned stories is a feature on Maryland's Tim Strachan, who was a star high school quarterback who became a quadriplegic after a swimming accident. The school followed through with its offer of a scholarship, and Strachan now patrols the sidelines as a reporter for the Terps' radio network and acts as a quarterback coach.

As Fox giddily gears up to cover the American League Championship Series, analyst Bob Brenly joins Joe Buck and Tim McCarver for coverage of tomorrow's third game of the Orioles-Yankees series (Channel 45, 1 p.m.) In the pre-game segment, Chip Caray and Steve Lyons talk with acting commissioner Bud Selig about realignment.

ESPN moves in for Sunday night's finale at 8, and we'll look behind the scenes at how the two outlets approach their telecasts in this space on Tuesday.

Before Saturday's game, 7-year-old Stephen Fisher of Lutherville will spend some time with Cal Ripken during Fox's "In the Zone" kids pre-game show (Channel 45, 12: 30 p.m.) And speaking of the kids, they and quite likely their parents will enjoy tomorrow's series premiere of "Sports Illustrated for Kids," the broadcast version of the excellent children's magazine (Channel 13, 11: 30 a.m.). The debut will include features with Grant Hill, a look at a Virginia adventure camp, and a segment in which a collection of athletes answer the question, "Have your parents ever embarrassed you?"

The answer to that, of course is, "Well, duh."

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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