Washington's Franklin to take place of Alan Prell

September 22, 1999|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Chip Franklin, host of the evening show on Washington's WMAL-AM, will be coming to Baltimore next month as Allan Prell's replacement on WBAL-AM.

"I was familiar with WBAL, and I knew that, as far as talk radio goes, this was an amazing opportunity," says Franklin, 43, who has spent four years on the D.C. evening shift.

Equal parts radio talker and stand-up comic, Franklin's resume includes writing for "The Tonight Show" and "Saturday Night Live," performances at Wolftrap, appearances on Comedy Central and MTV and even a stint as TV-show host ("The Best of the World's Worst Drivers," on The Learning Channel).

He's scheduled to begin his stewardship of WBAL's 9 a.m.-noon weekday slot Oct. 4. Prell, who handled the morning chores at WBAL for 17 years, will be moving to evenings beginning in November, once the station's broadcasts of postseason baseball are completed.

A native of northern Virginia who now makes his home in Montgomery County, Franklin jumped right into the fray yesterday, working to ingratiate himself to a new city and new audience.

"Let's be honest, Baltimore is more a real city than Washington is," Franklin says. "You guys have industry, you guys have people that really go to work, you have a lot of genuine concerns that white-collar people here in Washington just don't get."

Not that Charm City is new to him. "You're talking to a guy who spent 600 bucks to buy a ticket to 2131," the game where Cal Ripken set baseball's consecutive-games record. "I'm really looking forward to Baltimore. I can get to TV Hill in 40 minutes from my front door."

WBAL Vice President and Station Manager Jeff Beauchamp insists that picking Franklin to slide into Prell's slot was a no-brainer. "Two hundred candidates applied for the job," he says, "but from the moment we heard Chip's audition tape, we knew this was the guy.

"He's a really funny guy, but he's also a cerebral guy," Franklin's new boss says. "He's not going to do three hours a day of stand-up comedy, that's not what we're looking for. But he does bring an unusual twist to certain things."

Beauchamp believes listeners will notice some key differences between Prell's show and Franklin's. Although Franklin will continue to rely heavily on call-ins, "the show will be consistently inconsistent," Beauchamp predicts. "Some days, he's going to talk about something light ... some days his subjects will be heavier. I think every day will be something unexpected.

"We're going to have some fun," he continues. "It's not going to be an issue-oriented political talk show. It'll concentrate on issues when the host think it's warranted, when we think it's warranted, but not all the time."

The new guy agrees.

"When there's a big news event in Baltimore, we'll definitely cover that," Franklin says. "Hopefully, I'll be out in front of all that stuff. But I also want to talk about things like, is there an inverse relationship between the number of keys you have and the Darwinian ladder, that kind of stuff.

"I plan to interview the fringe news-makers, people we don't always have time to cover on a five-minute newscast," he says.

Maher in Charm City

Bill Maher and "Politically Incorrect," the ABC show that delights at pricking politicians' pomposities, will be coming to Baltimore next month in search of local talent.

Maher and his staff will be at the York Road studios of WMAR, Channel 2, on Oct. 15 to audition for a "citizen panelist" from Baltimore. Since the beginning of the year, "Politically Incorrect" has been choosing panelists from selected cities to share the stage with the celebrities, journalists and political pundits who have-at each other during a typical broadcast.

Baltimore is the 19th of 30 cities chosen to be represented on the program.

Anyone interested in auditioning should send a postcard with his or her name, address and day and evening phone numbers to Politically Incorrect Citizen Panelist Auditions, 7800 Beverly Blvd., Suite D, Los Angeles, Calif., 90036. You must be 18 or older and be available to fly to Los Angeles Nov. 2 (the show will pay to get you there, however).

From postcards received, 50 people will be selected to audition Oct. 15.

Give him a call

Gov. Parris Glendening will be the guest on today's edition of Comcast cable's phone-in show, "It's Your Call."

The hour-long show, with host Lynn Doyle, will be broadcast live from Comcast's White Marsh studios beginning at 8 p.m. Viewers will be able to ask questions of the governor via a toll-free number to be shown on-screen.

"It's Your Call" is available to Comcast customers on Channel 25 in Baltimore County, Channel 54 in Howard County and Channel 69 in Harford County.

Bradys, 30 years later

Now here's an anniversary worth celebrating: TV's happiest clan, "The Brady Bunch," first hit the airwaves 30 years ago -- Sept. 26, 1969. We've come a long way since then (as have Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy), but not so far that we can't recognize a milestone anniversary when we see one.

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