Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Change on the air and local media wishes

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Jan 1, 2007 3:00 AM (1 day ago)
Current rank: # 6 of 12,940 articles

WASHINGTON - Some big changes are headed our way now that 2007 is upon us. You may catch yourself shooting an incredulous glance at the trusty remote control when the channel you land on does not feature what you’re accustomed to.

But never fear. Here is a guide to the changes with time to spare.

» When it comes to the PGA Tour, all early rounds and some major early tournaments are on The Golf Channel, now the cable home to almost every PGA/LPGA/Nationwide and European tour event.

The Golf Channel is the cable home to all early round PGA events except for two: the British and U.S. opens. Both of those biggies have a couple of years left on their ESPN/ABC contracts.

The PGA’s network partners will be NBC and CBS, who will split the season. Gone is ESPN/ABC, which only has the British Open left along with a few LPGA events.

» Can’t wait for another discussion of where the Nationals games will be shown? Thankfully, what was an endless rigmarole is over. Both the Nats and Orioles are now on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

On the national side, there will be 26 weeks of Sunday doubleheaders: the Sunday Afternoon Game of the Week on TBS followed by Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. The Monday and Wednesday night games of the week also return to ESPN.

And the folks at FOX have a complete season of Game of the Week telecasts on Saturdays.

The postseason will be seen on TBS and FOX. Early-round games and the NLCS are bound for TBS while FOX will have the ALCS and World Series.

» NASCAR is also signaling for a lane change. The Craftsman Truck Series will be on SPEED, the Busch Series now belongs to ESPN and the Nextel big boys will air on FOX for the first part of the year. TNT then takes over with a summer package and ESPN/ABC will bring The Chase for the Cup home in the late summer and fall.

» Tennis remains on ESPN2 for most of the year while NBC keeps the French Open and Wimbledon. CBS will air the U.S. Open with USA keeping the early rounds.

» The NBA stays put on ESPN/ABC, TNT and NBA-TV, while the NHL will continue on VERSUS and NBC. Locally, the Caps and Wiz are on CSN.

» MLS is now on ESPN2/ABC and FOX Soccer Channel exclusively. D.C. United will be on CSN.

New Year’s wishes for local sports media

» NBC 4 should make a bold move. When King George Michael steps aside in March, the station should name Lindsay Czarniak as his replacement. Making her the first-ever woman sports director in the Washington market is the smart thing to do.

» ABC 7’s Tim Brant and FOX 5’s Dave Feldman are primed to succeed Michael as the No. 1 sportscaster in town. Both have the talent. They simply need more air time. CBS 9’s Brett Haber is a gifted writer but ratings keep him out of the picture for now.

» MASN should hire Phil Wood to be part of their pre- and post-game shows. No one has a better knowledge of baseball than Wood. If you put Wood on the air with Rick Dempsey and Amber Theoharis or whomever is the anchor, MASN would have a solid baseball show.

» CSN should have playoffs for both the Caps and Wiz in 2007. We are lucky to have to have such talented production and broadcast teams. Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier with the Wiz and the Caps trio of Joe Beninati, Craig Laughlin and Al Koken are two quality teams.

» On radio, Sports Talk 980-AM has proven you can be all local and successful. It was a great risk but there was a wonderful reward with fans getting in more calls to The First Team, The Sports Reporters, Brian Mitchell and John Thompson shows.

Triple X ESPN showed it could provide quality Redskins coverage without forgetting how to be objective ... usually. Larry Michael and Bram Weinstein did a fine lunchtime show and John Riggins proved to be a force in afternoon drive.

Now, about the station’s paltry signal. The issue will be addressed by either buying WGMS or if that fails, some Clear Channel FMs are for sale and maybe WAVA-FM could enter the mix.

So a better signal will come in 2007, making for happy Redskins fans. Then again, about that defense …

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


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