Sunday, February 20, 2000


Piecoro pressed into Cyclones duty

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jeff Piecoro was getting ready to take his kids to McDonald's at about 5:15 Friday night when Mark Goldsmith called. Two hours later, Piecoro was at the Firstar Center calling play-by-play on hockey for the first time in his life.

        Dave Miller, the usual Fox Sports Net play-by-play man, didn't show up to do the Cyclones-Cleveland Lumberjacks game broadcast. So Goldsmith, the show's producer, turned to Piecoro, a local freelancer.

        “He said, "If we don't hear from him by 6, come down and get ready to do the game,” Piecoro said.

        Fox never heard from Miller, so Piecoro stepped in. Piecoro has subbed as the public address announcer for Cyclones games, so he was familiar with the team.

        Bob Whidden, the analyst on the broadcast, helped him with the Cleveland players.

        “After I learned who was on each shift, it went a lot smoother,” Piecoro said. “For the first period, I was constantly looking down at the roster.”

        Doug Kirchhofer, the owner of the Cyclones, thought Piecoro did OK.

        “He was watching the game in his office,” Piecoro said. “He came down and said, "I thought that voice sounded familiar.' He said I did well. If it's OK with the boss, it's OK with me.”

        LAST LAP: CBS broadcasts its 22nd and final (at least for now) Daytona 500 today (noon, Channel 12).

        The network was left out of NASCAR's new television deal.

        “It's been a great run,” CBS executive producer Terry Ewert said. “We have no regrets.”

        That's the nature of the sports television business now: No network can hold on to all its choice properties with so much money being thrown around for broadcast rights.

        NBC, Fox, FX and Turner Sports will pay NASCAR $400 million over six years, beginning next year.

        “With all the events we have in the first quarter of the year, NCAA basketball, the NFL, the Final Four, Augusta, a lot of golf and U.S. Open Tennis ... NASCAR wanted some continuity week in week out,” Ewert said. “It just didn't make any sense for us.”

        LAP IN LIMBO: Dave Lapham knows he is going to work two NFL Europe games for Fox Sports Net.

        His plans for the NFL season, however, are not so firm.

        Lapham, the analyst on Bengals radio broadcasts on WBOB-AM (1160), also worked six NFL games for the Fox network last year.

        “It's still kind of early for Fox,” he said. “They don't have the schedule yet. As far as (the Bengals), there's so much uncertainity. The whole thing is up in air.”

        That's because no one is sure on what channel the games will be broadcast on after the AMFM-Clear Channel merger.

        SAVE THE BOB: Scott, a WBOB fan, called in after last week's column lamenting the possible demise of BOB after the AMFM-Clear Channel merger.

        “Is there anything we can do?” he said. “Anyone we can write or e-mail? I don't know where these rating come from, but I think they're wrong. A lot of people I know listen to it.”

        Advertisers believe the ratings, but BOB could survive the in some form. Here's how: Let's say AMFM works out that the Bengals game rights go to WLW. Then BOB could be sold much more easily. The Bengals rights come at such steep price (seven figures) that BOB has been tough to sell.

        I don't think BOB's ratings would be hurt badly by losing the Bengals. The station's lineup is established enough to stand on its own.

        MEREDITH IN SARASOTA: Bill Meredith will do live reports from the Reds' spring training camp at Sarasota, Fla., beginning Monday. The reports will air each moring at 6:03, 6:33, 7:03, 7:33, 8:03 and 8:33 on WCIN-AM (1480).

        John Fay covers radio/TV sports for The Enquirer. He can be reached at (513) 768-8445.


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