Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bonnie Bernstein's new quest

Bonnie Bernstein’s new quest
By: Jim Williams
The Examiner
Friday March 30,2007

Anyone who knows or for that matter has ever seen ESPN reporter extraordinaire Bonnie Bernstein knows that she is the picture of health.

A proud University of Maryland grad and former college gymnast Bernstein is about as active as person can be with her regular workout regimen and her obsession with a healthy life style.

So you could say that the most surprised person on the planet to find out that she had a life threatening medical problem was indeed Bonnie Bernstein.

Bernstein on how she found out: “I was working the Texas-Oklahoma football game and the broadcast crew had planned our exit from the Cotton Bowl to catch our flight at the airport in Dallas. I was running across the Texas State Fair midway and my legs hurt and I was short of breath. Once we made it to the plane the entire flight back to New York my legs hurt and the next day I saw my doctor. After having an Ultrasound done I found out that I had blood clots in my leg and a CT scan revealed the clots had also entered my lungs. I checked into the hospital immediately. I was lucky I could have died but fortunately the doctors caught my Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT) before the blood clots got to my heart.”

Many people know DVT as the condition that caused the death of NBC newsman David Bloom.

Now Bonnie Bernstein and Melanie Bloom are working hard so that people know that this condition claims the lives of more people each year in the US than either AIDS or Breast Cancer.

Who is at Risk?

The fact is that DVT can occur in almost anyone. Some risk factors or triggering events to discuss with your doctor include, Cancer, Certain heart or respiratory diseases, Prior DVT, Advanced age, Use of birth control pills, and Obesity to name a few.

Bernstein on what she has learned: “I know that you can help yourself by exercising, walking, climbing stairs, simple things like stretching if set in your office chair all day. People need to talk to their doctors about this condition and to take the time learn if you are a candidate. Finding out ahead of time could as it did in my case save your life.”

For more information on DVT check out the web site at

Meanwhile we look forward to seeing Bernstein on ESPN both on the set and on sidelines for a very long time.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A guide to Madness

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Mar 15, 2007 3:00 AM (12 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 6 of 19,230
WASHINGTON - How big is March Madness? The FBI estimates office pools in the United States this year will produce over $2.5 billion — more than will be legally wagered in Las Vegas.

Most of those pools will range from the $5-20 bracket buy-in and rest assured Washington-area workers will be doing their best to win their office pools.
If you are lucky enough to be … sick … today and have time in front of the tube, CBS 9 will have coverage locally beginning with Maryland-Davidson from Buffalo called by Kevin Harlan and Bob Wenzel.

Stuck and need some last-second help with that bracket? There are plenty of places to find help but checkout the usual Web sites: ESPN, CSTV, CBS.Sportsline. And there is always the local picks offered at where brackets of The Tony Kornheiser Show’s guests are posted.

How to maximize the Madness: You can follow all of the games outside this market (no local teams) via the Internet at or Both sites will offer free live video of the games as well as pre- and post-game information.

SIRIUS satellite radio will have will have all 64 games covered so you won’t miss a moment of the action. All Maryland games, starting with Thursday’s 12:20 p.m. tip against Davidson, will be on WMAL-AM 630. Georgetown will be on WTEM-AM 980 and Virginia and Virginia Tech will be on WTNT-AM 570 and WTEM, respectively. George Washington’s games can be heard on WTWP-AM 1500.

As usual, WTEM will have wall-to-wall coverage of the tournament so check its Web site for the complete list of coverage.

If you are lucky enough to be … sick … today and have time in front of the tube, CBS 9 will have coverage locally beginning with Maryland-Davidson from Buffalo called by Kevin Harlan and Bob Wenzel.

Georgetown-Belmont will get underway from Winston-Salem, N.C. at 2:45 p.m. with Dick Enberg and Jay Bilas calling the action.

George Washington-Vanderbilt will get underway from Sacramento at 4:55 p.m. (EST) with James Brown and Len Elmore doing the honors.

On Friday, Virginia and Albany will meet in Columbus at 12:15 p.m. with Tim Brando and Mike Gminski on the call. That duo will also work Virginia Tech and Illinois from Columbus beginning at 7:10 p.m.

And that’s not all … Let’s not forget defending NCAA Women’s National Champion Maryland as it attempts look to defend the crown. The Terps will face Harvard in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. The George Washington women get started on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Dallas against Boise State, also on ESPN.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

MLS and Bundesliga partner up

Part one of a three part series with
Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert
Jim Williams, The Examiner
Mar 14, 2007 3:00 AM (12 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 5 of 21,099
WASHINGTON - Major League Soccer and the Bundesliga — Germany’s top soccer league — have entered into a historic partnership that could have a major impact on soccer’s growth in the United States and Germany.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert unveiled an agreement between the leagues to share experience, expertise, and best practices. MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis and Bundesliga Executive Board Member Tom Bender also participated in Tuesday’s announcement in Miami at the SPORTELAmerica 2007 convention, which features the growing technology surrounding the coverage of sports.

Gazidis and Bender laid the groundwork for the new relationship two weeks ago in New York.

“This relationship marks an important step forward for Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “We are all aware that this age of globalization means new challenges for soccer, the most global sport. We are proud to enter this mutually beneficial relationship with the Bundesliga, one of the world’s most well-run and most successful soccer leagues.”

In an exclusive phone conversation from Miami, the head of Germany’s top soccer league spoke to me about why he wanted to work with the MLS.

“We initiated discussions with Major League Soccer because of the impressive progress it has made since its inception in 1996,” Seifert said. “We look forward to learning from MLS, an exemplary organization and a modern league with an eye on the future. Likewise, we are proud to contribute to the continued rise of soccer in the United States.”

Seifert on new media: “Establishing the Bundesliga brand in the U.S. is very important to us and we feel that broadcasting our games on GolTV is a great start. The network airs the games both in English and Spanish accomplishing our goal to market our product to a new fan base as well as the rapidly growing and very loyal Hispanic fans of soccer in the U.S.”

Seifert on the relationship with MLS: “We believe that the MLS is following a great plan for soccer-only stadiums; it is a plan that has served us well and we have an average of 39,000 fans per game, the largest average attendance in Europe. We both agree on a salary cap and that you can have a world-class league without having owners that overpay for players.”

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

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Big Names Making Local Calls

Big names making local calls

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Mar 8, 2007 3:00 AM (5 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 21,204 articles
WASHINGTON - In Major League Baseball and other professional sports, economics have changed. Broadcasters used to scratch and claw to get to the network level, but the trend has reversed. Many quality personalities now feel it’s better to be a local broadcaster who mixes in a few network games. Full time network jobs have been cut and are no longer as attractive as they once were.

FOX’s lead announcer, Joe Buck, still calls Cardinals home games. ESPN’s Jon Miller handles the Giants radio and TV broadcasts and Dave O’Brien is now doing Red Sox radio along with ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball.

Locally, MASN and CSN are perfect examples of regional cable networks that want top talent. Meanwhile, top name announcers are seeking a combination of stability and a steady paycheck over the glitz of being a network broadcaster.

The MASN crew of Gary Thorne, Bob Carpenter, Jim Palmer, Don Sutton and Buck Martinez all has big-time network experience. But each saw broadcasting for a quality regional sports outfit as more attractive than battling the network wars.

MASN and CSN are in the minority when it comes to seeking out network-quality broadcasters. The vast majority is willing to hire younger, cheaper talent and pair it with a popular former player. For them it is a matter of economics over quality.

» Carpenter on his second year with the Nationals: “This is a first class organization with great fans and a wonderful future. I love working in the most powerful city in the world and as far as I am concerned I want to keep doing baseball in D.C. with Don Sutton for the rest of my career.”

» Thorne on his new home: “The funny thing was that while I wanted to be the voice of a local team I wasn’t actually looking. Then MASN called and the more I thought about it the more it made sense to me. I love Baltimore; I have worked with Jim Palmer, Buck Martinez and Rick Dempsey before and we are all friends so that makes things easy. As for my ESPN work, well, I will do 20 events this season for them and they are great but I am now the TV voice of the Orioles and I want to be a part of this Hall of Fame broadcast team for a very long time.”

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

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March Madness, Part I, ready for prime time

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Mar 6, 2007 3:00 AM (12 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 16,854 articles
BALTIMORE - Conference play is just a tune-up for the real March Madness that starts next week, but league tournaments are still crucial to Big Dance seeding and to the bubble teams that need help to reach the NCAAs.

In total this week, college basketball fans can see 50-plus games, and starting Wednesday through the weekend, ESPN will feature college hoops 12 hours a day.

The Big East Conference starts its all-day basketball smorgasbord from Madison Square Garden Wednesday at noon, with all games being aired on ESPN and capped off by the prime-time Saturday night conference title game.

Thursday, the ACC takes center stage, tipping off at noon, with CW54 (WNUV) being the home for all the action. The championship game is on Sunday.

In an interseting plot twist Sinclair Broadcasting(parent copmany of FOX 45 & CW54) is in a battle with Comcast over fees they feel the cable company should be paying the Hunt Valley based broadcaster. A March 9th deadline could cause problems for Maryland hoop fans if Friday both FOX 45 and CW54 are pulled off cable. We will keep you posted.

The other major conferences, the PAC 10 starts on Comcast SportsNet on Wednesday, and the Big Ten begins on Thursday on ESPN. Fans of the SEC and Big 12 will be unable to see any early-round games. But fans can see their games online by checking your favorite team's Web site or with SIRIUS satellite radio.

Local lacrosse fans will have a chance to catch today’s Johns Hopkins-UMBC game live at 7 p.m. if you need a break from the hoops-fest on MASN.

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network’s spring training baseball package this week features the Nationals vs. Astros Thursday at 1 p.m., with Bob Carpenter, Don Sutton and in-game reporter Debbi Taylor. On Friday at 1, we get our first look at the Orioles’ broadcast team. Gary Thorne, Jim Palmer and Amber Theoharis make their debut when MASN carries the Orioles vs. Nationals from Fort Lauderdale.

“I can't wait to get going and the chance to be part of the new Orioles broadcast team,” Thorne told me. “Jim Palmer, Buck Martinez, Jim Hunter and Amber Theoharis are all great people, and I think fans will see that we enjoy doing O's baseball. We have some of the best broadcasters in the business working for MASN, so let’s get started already.”

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

Friday, March 02, 2007

George Michael Was One of a Kind

By: Jim Williams
The Examiner
Saturday March 3, 2007

Let me say this as strongly as possible, there is nobody better than George Michael. He is the best and by miles.

Last night was Michael's last newscast as we have reported earlier he was leaving NBC4 passing up a five year $5 million dollar deal because it would mean more layoffs for not only his staff but others in the news department. So rather than take the cash, Michael passed on the money so that at least 20 people at NBC4 could keep their jobs.

In a day when local sports anchors are interchangeable and act like ESPN SportsCenter knockoff’s George Michael was the gold standard.

In an age where scores and headlines are known well before the 6pm and 11pm newscasts Michael offered sports in an entertaining style that is neither as easy as it looks nor something that is seen on a local basis anywhere these days.

People no longer watch the local news for sports and the new stars are the weathermen, sports anchors get three minutes and have to rush their sportscasts so that there can be one last sign off weather report. But for 27 years George Michael demanded and got four minutes of air time and some times more.

He will no longer be part of NBC4’s newscasts, he will be still doing his weekly Redskins Shows but the nightly interactions between anchor Jim Vance and Michael are classic, funny but most of all are real.

George Michael was sportscaster who was an entertainer and who understood the medium of television better than almost any sports anchor in the country. Michael’s old competition Warner Wolf and Len Berman were pretty good as well but he was always just a bit better.

He presented highlights in a way that commands that you watch them, complete with music and sound effects they were compelling viewing and something you could only see on a George Michael sportscast.

We have heard the stories of countless members of the ESPN staff saying that Michael did SportsCenter before they did SportsCenter. That George Michael’s Sports Machine which will go dark on March 25th was the gold standard for interview and highlights shows.

As someone who has been part of the business I stole ideas from George Michael because if you’re going to steal – steal from the best.

So like Johnny Carson the King of local TV sports is leaving the air on NBC4 but he will be back.

The good news is that Michael is staying in the Washington area he will land somewhere.

There are discussions going on now between MASN and Michael which makes perfect sense for both parties. He knows this area so well and is just as comfortable talking to Cal Ripken as he is Joe Gibbs. It would be a chance for the young network to have credibility while allowing Michael to continue to do the interview shows that were so successful that they created spin offs like PTI.

We have learned that Michael will also be joining DirecTV along with FOX Sports NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip. They will work together on a series of races doing the brand new “Hot Pass,” where they will cover drivers during the races and I am sure that they will do more NASCAR features as well down the line.

The nightly sports newscast will never be the same but we have not seen the last of George Michael, he shall return and my guess is it will be soon.

One last thing and that is NBC4 should do the right thing and make Lindsay Czarniak, the Sports Director. The market can stand the bold move of having a woman as the lead sportscaster.

Orioles and Nationals to telecast all 162 games

By: Jim Williams
The Examiner
Friday March 2, 2007

The Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals will telecast all 162 games for the first time in history this season as they make their debut on MASN.

As for over the air coverage the Orioles will have a package of 25 games "MASN on WJZ" that will include opening day April 9th against the Tigers and all games on WJZ will also be seen on either MASN or MASN2.

In Washington the Nationals will have 30 games as part of “MASN on MY 20.”

Those games will be weekend games and the telecast will be Saturday April 7th from RFK at 7pm against the D'Backs.(Those games will also be seen throughout the mid Atlantic on either MASN or MASN2).

There will be a FOX game against the Rockies on July 21st at RFK a 4pm start.

Both teams will have total equality for the first time throughout the entire mid Atlantic region as both the Orioles and Nationals will be seen from Pennsylvania to North Carolina as part of the over 300 games offered by MASN and MASN2.

The Orioles and Nationals will each have 99 games on MASN and if you are in Baltimore it is Comcast channel 62 and Baltimore County channel 64. MASN2 will show 63 Orioles telecasts while the Nationals will be on 62 times. MASN2 will be seen in both Baltimore City and County on Comcast channel 17 and on DirecTV channel 671. MASN2 on Comcast channel 17 will only be on for the pre game, game and post game and then it will return C-SPAN2 programming. You can always check the web site at for channel listings on all cable companies.

In the DC area MASN is on Channel 42 and MASN2 will be seen on channel 79 where they will air the pre game, game and post game and then return to there normal C-SPAN2 schedule. Since C-SPAN is an important channel in Washington Comcast has opened digital channel 104 as a full time second C-SPAN2 outlet so Senators won’t miss their votes.

I know you have your calculators out and say it still does not add up. Well there will be some nights when the Orioles will play a home game and the Nationals will be on the west coast or vice versa so on those nights MASN will have a double header.

Baseball gets started this weekend on Saturday at 1pm with the Nationals and the Orioles playing in Viera and the game will be on MASN with the Nationals announce team of Bob Carpenter, Don Sutton and in game reporter Debbi Taylor handling the honors.

The first Orioles Spring Training game with Gary Thorne, Jim Palmer and Amber Theoharis will be seen next Friday at 1pm when the same two teams face off from Ft. Lauderdale.

Gary Thorne will be a busy man this spring as he will do 7 Orioles games and five ESPN Spring Training games.

Before all 162 regular season games...

As we have reported last week there will be O’s Xtra before and after every game with Jim Hunter, Tom Davis and Rick Dempsey. The Nationals will have Johnny Holiday and Ray Knight handling their pre and post game as part of Nats Xtra.