Broadcasters make viewing and listening difficult

July 08, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

Call it torture by means of broadcast media. The latest culprits are two local broadcast outlets. How do they offend? Let me count the ways.

First up is Channel 13, WJZ-TV. Oh, most of us love 'em. In fact, on most days I love 'em. But lately, not on Friday nights.

Here I am, trying to desperately tape the few remaining first-run episodes of CBS's "Family Matters." In another two weeks, my main man and archnerd Steve Urkel will be gone from prime time forever. What's been my main obstacle in taping the precious few remaining shows? WJZ-TV, which has pre-empted the Urk Man repeatedly with Orioles broadcasts.

This revolting state of affairs would be bad enough even if Dem O's were hot and in the heat of a pennant race. But the Orioles have been stealing owner Peter Angelos' money and depressing fans with a performance that would have to improve 100-fold just to get to the level of hapless. Channel 13 has a contract to broadcast Orioles' baseball games, but the station has been broadcasting under a false pretext. The Orioles haven't been playing baseball.

Any network affiliate that chooses to pre-empt network programming to broadcast games for local athletic teams is on shaky ground in the first place. Channel 13's idea of trying to equalize things is to put pre-empted network programs on at odd hours of the weekend. That should work fine, except that WJZ doesn't seem to know its revamped schedule. Anyone who read the television listings and tried to tape "Family Matters" at midnight on Sunday got the tail end of that show but the complete "Step By Step." A couple of weeks ago television listings assured "Family Matters" fans the show would air at 12: 30 p.m. on a Saturday. Anybody taping it got "Kids Say The Darnedest Things" instead.

Here's a suggestion for WJZ: show network programming as scheduled from now on and run Orioles' broadcasts on a tape-delayed basis for local baseball fans. If they're true fans, they'll stay up to watch it. If WJZ can't do that, here's another suggestion: Try getting the revamped network schedule right on a regular basis.

Now, on to the next offender, which was doing quite well there for awhile. Cathy Hughes, owner of Radio One, recently hired renowned talk-show host Joe Madison as program director and on-air personality for her talk station WOLB. Madison immediately overhauled the station's schedule, moving the cerebral Eric St. James to the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. slot, that irascible but popular C. Miles to 9 a.m. to noon, Beverly Smith (a talk-show host on Black Entertainment Television) to noon to 3 p.m., himself from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ("It's Madison Time!" now has a whole new meaning in Baltimore), and Bernie McCain to 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Hughes was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Black Chamber of Commerce. She deserves it, especially for hiring Madison and having him come up with this line-up. It's a Murderers Row line-up, not a weak hitter in the bunch.

Well, it was a Murderers Row line-up. On Monday, Madison announced that the new host for Baltimore from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. will be former state Sen. Larry Young. So now it's a Murderers Row line-up plus one Bob Uecker. Washington listeners will still have the erudite St. James from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Apparently we Balti-morons, who have already suffered enough, will continue to suffer.

I first heard Young on the air when I tuned in expecting to hear Miles. Instead I got Young, droning on in a voice that could set talk radio back 50 years, and that takes some doing.

"I don't want to hear any bleepity-bleep Larry Young!" I fumed. "I want to hear C. Miles!"

Young's supporters swear he was the victim of a racist plot by "da white man" to remove him from office. His detractors swear the man's a crook. But neither his detractors nor supporters has accused Young of being Mr. Excitement.

Here's a tip, Larry: You're a dull guy. Some are born dull, some are made dull, others have dullness thrust upon them. Oh, how I prayed the legislature wouldn't expel you. I feared this would happen. Tell me what I can do to get you back in the legislature and I'll do everything in my power to see that you get there. I'll escort you in at gunpoint, if necessary.

Just get off the radio. You're taking up space that can be filled by some truly interesting people. If you can't do that, at least urge Madison to move you to the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. slot.

The insomniacs among us might then get some sleep.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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