In coverage of Turin Games, gold-worthy performances

ON MEDIA

February 24, 2006|By RAY FRAGER

The Winter Olympics is almost over. But you knew that, because Baltimore rates in the top quarter of the nation's television markets for viewing NBC's prime-time Turin Games coverage. If you have friends in Washington, Atlanta or Houston, though, you may want to pass the news along, because they're likely not watching.

Before the flame goes out and the NBC guys pack up their Armani, let's hand out a few of those doughnut-shaped (or given that the Games are in Italy, should that be zeppole-shaped?) medals:

Mary Carillo: For those unfamiliar with her work as anything other than a tennis analyst, maybe it was a surprise to see her handle duties as host of Olympic Ice with such good-humored style. But she long ago proved herself away from the court, and this was just another example.

Al Trautwig: Is there a reason to find cross-country skiing or biathlon compelling? Trautwig's announcing.

Curling: If this sport doesn't make it here after the wall-to-wall coverage during daytime cable telecasts, then maybe it will never make it. One question, though: Wouldn't curling be perfect programming to air during television's "sweeps" months? (Grazie, grazie, I'm here all week.)

Dick Button: Don't think you're going to get away with a half-executed sit spin when Mr. Skating is on the case.

Ski jumping: Specifically, a couple of cameras. That one imbedded at the end of the jump, showing the competitors whooshing past, and the one tracking them as they flew down the jump and then just flew. Very cool.

Mike Emrick: The NHL is televised on some channels somewhere, but somehow I just never seem to catch it. Hearing Emrick's crisp calls during the Olympics is a reminder of how good he is.

Next time around

In four years, the Winter Olympics will be in Vancouver, British Columbia, which means no time-difference problems for showing the Games live. NBC continually gets bashed for not broadcasting more events live, but it's not as if the Salt Lake City Games featured unfettered live coverage. It will be interesting to see if NBC changes its philosophy of packaging events for prime time. The bet here? No way.

Back to you, DW

Last week, NBC NASCAR analyst Wally Dallenbach offered a not-so-veiled criticism of Fox's Darrell Waltrip, saying, in part, "We don't need any more grandstanding and talking about themselves in the booth. As long as the guy calls the race, and gives the guys that are on the racetrack the coverage and not himself ..."

During a teleconference this week for the start of Fox's NASCAR coverage, Waltrip was asked to respond.

"I think we all have credentials," said Waltrip, who just signed a contract extension with Fox. "We all have things we can draw on -- our experiences, our knowledge -- and sometimes you have to refer to things that have happened to you.

"I don't find that to be self-serving or self-promoting. I find that to be that we're doing what we're paid to be, which is expert analysts."

If that's not exactly Tony Stewart bumping someone out of a race, it is a lot more civil.

Captain Trips

The Grateful Dead's "Sugar Magnolia" wafted over the airwaves of ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in the Morning earlier this week, which could mean only one thing -- Bill Walton was (as the kids say) in the house.

Walton declined to cast a vote in the show's "Just Shut Up" feature, instead preferring to give (as the kids say) major props to Shaquille O'Neal for his stand-up, superstar-worthy presence at the NBA All-Star Weekend. Walton said O'Neal made himself available for just about any media opportunity, presenting a positive image for the league.

When the subject turned to Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams' suspension, substitute host Erik Kuselias raised the question about marijuana use supposedly not being addictive. Walton said he had no personal knowledge on this subject.

Then, to complete the Dead theme, Walton quoted the group's "Bertha" as a comment on Williams' situation: Test me, test me, test me/Why don't you arrest me?

ray.frager@baltsun.com

Read Ray Frager's blog at baltimoresun.com/mediumwell

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