ABC Sports sticks with tradition, re-signs McKay for fifth decade

Media Watch

July 23, 1999|By Milton Kent

Certain things in life are unthinkable if not paired with something else. Could you have peanut butter without jelly? The Lone Ranger was, well, alone, but wasn't he a little less so because of Tonto?

And how could there be an ABC Sports without the presence of Jim McKay. Of course not, and the division announced that McKay, one of sports television's most enduring and endearing figures, has agreed to a multi-year contract extension.

McKay, who has logged more than 4 1/2 million miles over four decades at ABC, will begin a fifth decade there with this contract, which runs for an undisclosed length.

"I was very touched and honored when [ABC Sports president] Howard Katz asked me to stay on. To be asked to continue is quite thrilling," McKay said yesterday from his Monkton home.

McKay, a 12-time Emmy winner, was the first host of "Wide World of Sports," which debuted in 1961, and has covered 10 Olympics for the network, as well as 100 different sports in 40 different countries. In his new pact, McKay will continue to be co-host of the network's horse racing coverage and the British Open, as well as play a role on other major sports and on "Wide World."

McKay's son, Sean McManus, is president of CBS Sports, and there has been speculation throughout the industry that McManus might attempt to bring his father to CBS, where his network television career began in the 1950s.

But McKay, 77, said things never reached that stage, as Katz, who brought college football announcer Keith Jackson out of retirement last month, moved to keep another cornerstone of ABC Sports at home.

"We'll never know [about CBS]. The circumstances never made that possible. I think it [going to work for McManus] would have been embarrassing in both directions. This is so much better for both of us. I think we're going to continue with our friendly competition," McKay said.

The hoop plan

NBC and Turner announced their 1999-2000 NBA broadcast schedules, and they reflect the changes in the league's hierarchy.

For instance, the previously ignored Sacramento Kings, who had never appeared on NBC's regular-season slate in nine years of network telecasts, will get nine appearances next season. The Philadelphia 76ers, who also were largely shunned from national broadcasts, will make the maximum 11 NBC appearances. The Kings will be shown 11 times on TBS and TNT, and eight Sixers games will air on cable.

The defending champion San Antonio Spurs will be seen 11 times on NBC and 13 times on Turner, and the team they vanquished in the championship series, the New York Knicks, will get 15 Turner airings and 11 on NBC. The underachieving Los Angeles Lakers will get the same 15 and 11 treatment.

In a departure from previous years, Turner is apparently not obligated to show each team, and the Washington Wizards, along with eight other teams, are shut out from cable telecasts, though the New Jersey Nets get one NBC regional appearance.

NBC's 34-game Saturday and Sunday regular-season schedule, as usual, begins on Christmas night with a doubleheader, two of 17 prime-time games. Turner, meanwhile, will air 80 regular-season games -- 53 on TNT and 27 on TBS, beginning Nov. 2, with contests on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights.

Going to the Hall

ESPN begins full coverage of this weekend's baseball Hall of Fame proceedings with a thought-provoking "Outside the Lines" special at 7: 30 tonight that delves into the Cooperstown selection process from both the writers and Veterans Committee perspectives.

The special opens with two boys who sneak into the Hall after hours and encounter Phil Niekro and some fellow named Brooks Robinson. Maybe you've heard of him.

Sunday's ceremonies, with the induction of Orlando Cepeda, Nolan Ryan, Robin Yount and George Brett, also air on ESPN, beginning at 1 p.m. Meanwhile, Nick Charles' "Page One" will feature interviews with Cepeda, Brett and Yount on Saturday's program, airing at 11: 30 a.m., with a sit-down with Ryan at 10 a.m. Sunday, both on CNN.

Around the dial

The latest "Real Sports" premieres at 10 p.m. Monday on HBO, with solid profiles of track star Marion Jones and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, to go along with a look at controversial football agent Tank Black.

Former Baltimore radio talk veteran Phil Wood has a daily show, "Between the Lines," airing on Washington's WTEM (980 AM) at 3 p.m., and he'll be in Cooperstown at 10 a.m. tomorrow to take in the surroundings.

Finally, on the hoops front, the Olympic qualifying tournament for the Americas comes to a close this weekend, with NBC (Channel 11) airing a semifinal at 2 p.m. tomorrow, and TNT picking up the title game at 8 p.m. Sunday. The WNBA slate this weekend has Washington traveling to Minnesota at 8 tonight on Lifetime, Los Angeles home to New York at 4 p.m. tomorrow on NBC and New York playing host to Charlotte at 7: 30 p.m. Monday on ESPN.

Week's ratings

The ratings for the top 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television in Baltimore during the past week (R-Rating; S-Share):

Event Day Ch. R/S

Orioles-Expos Sat. 13 10.1/19

Orioles-Expos Fri. 13 9.9/18

Tour de France Sun. 2 6.1/13

British Open Sun. 2 3.9/9

Molson Indy race Sun. 2 2.9/6

"Lord Stanley" Sun. 11 2.3/5

Senior PGA Sun. 13 2.1/4

LPGA Sun. 11 1.9/4

NASCAR race Sun. 13 1.8/4

Br. Open h'lights Sun. 2 1.2/2

Note: Sports programming on Saturday afternoon was pre-empted by news coverage.

Pub Date: 7/23/99

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