Sandusky signing off from `SportsLine'

WBAL Radio removes host due to schedule conflict, not pressure from Orioles

January 13, 2000|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN SPORTS MEDIA CRITIC

Gerry Sandusky, who anchors Channel 11's weeknight sportscasts and is the host of WBAL Radio's nighttime sports talk show, will be relinquishing his regular radio duties next month.

Sandusky, who has been critical of the Orioles during his 2 1/2-year stint as "SportsLine" host, is being moved in part to accommodate a portion of WBAL's new, three-year contract with the Orioles, though the move was not dictated by team officials.

"They assured me that it was not at their [Orioles'] insistence," Sandusky said. "Jeff [Beauchamp, station manager] insisted that that wasn't the case, and I trust him at his word."

Beauchamp said Sandusky was caught in a crunch brought on by the station's negotiations with the club, during which WBAL officials pledged to increase the amount of marketing time they devoted to the Orioles in response to offers made by CBS Radio during their negotiations with the team.

WBAL will begin doing game-related reports as early as 2 p.m. and during the afternoon drive time periods, and will have a consistent post-game talk show after Orioles contests, Beauchamp said.

The combination of those time pressures made it impossible for Sandusky, who does the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. sportscasts for Channel 11, to be able to do what WBAL needed him to do.

But that decision was reached internally at Television Hill, without external pressure from the Orioles, Beauchamp said.

"We wouldn't allow the Orioles or anyone to tell us who we could or couldn't have on the air," Beauchamp said. "We knew as we were going through this that we had to get someone in a full-time capacity. Unfortunately, we had to change things with Gerry, which we hate because he was doing an outstanding job."

Beauchamp said Steve Melew- ski, who has done fill-in work for the station, will take over regular "SportsLine" host chores on Feb. 21.

Sandusky, meanwhile, will continue to have a presence at the station, as he will remain host of WBAL's "Countdown to Kickoff" football show, and will be a part of Opening Day and Preakness coverage and other special events.

Sandusky makes it clear that he is leaving the talk show forum involuntarily, though without rancor.

"Will I miss it [the talk show]? Absolutely," Sandusky said. "It has made TV that much more fun. It has brought me so much joy, and if the listeners have had as much fun as I have, then I'm really happy."

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