Friday, November 03, 2006

Thumbs up for Davis, down for guest reporters

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Nov 3, 2006 5:00 AM (2 hrs 29 mins ago)
Current rank: # 4 of 6,285 articles

BALTIMORE - Steve Davis has a career as an air traffic controller if he ever gives up sports. He is the smooth host of “Ravens Game Day Live,” a three-hour pre-game show that airs on WBAL 1090 AM prior to every Ravens game.

Three hours goes by very quickly with Davis, who keeps things moving as part host, part traffic cop. The show is fast-paced and has plenty of information for both the casual fan and the hard-core purple-and-black face-painter.

Davis mixes conversations with game broadcasters Gerry Sandusky, Stan White and Rob Burnett, who each take turns throughout the show to give updates from the stadium. To help break down the game, Davis gets plenty of national help from former Ravens defensive star Tony Siragusa (now part of the FOX broadcast team), former Maryland quarterback Boomer Esiason (now an “NFL Today on CBS” regular), Jarrett Bell of USA Today, WBAL reporter Keith Mills and Ravens head coach Brian Billick.

There are plenty of canned interviews of players and coaches that were done during the week so fans tuning in for 10 minutes or the whole three hours will be informed and entertained.

As we hit the mid-point of the season, I think the Sandusky-White-Burnett team is doing a fine job. Sandusky is a solid play-by-play man and doesn’t get too excited when things go right for the Ravens. He does a good job of keeping fans upbeat while informing them of where the ball is, down and distance, etc. White and Burnett have good insights and are stepping on each other far less than early in the season.

But now, it’s time to retire the guest sideline reporter. As a producer, I know sometimes things sound great in theory and once used, they fall flat. Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of those times. The folks at WBAL should put Burnett on the sideline — he can be far more effective. He knows all the players and coaches and can use that knowledge to give fans real insight.

The third analyst being on the sidelines works very well on the CBS Radio Sunday and Monday night broadcasts. It would be a perfect platform for the talented Burnett.

I applaud the concept of the guest sideline reporter, but I find its current set-up meaningless and, at times, just silly. (Gary Williams did a good job, but he is a natural.) Come on, gang, you have a good team. Use them correctly.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. E-mail him at

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