Sunday, March 18, 2001

Sports on TV-radio


Drama makes for great TV

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        All you had to do was watch the first day of the NCAA Tournament to get an idea of what makes great sports television. You can sum it up in two words: real drama.

        That's what you get when Hampton beats Iowa State in the game's last seconds. That's what you get when Utah State comes back to beat Ohio State. And that's what you get when Georgetown beats Arkansas at the buzzer.

        All you need to show that is a couple of cameras and an announcer who knows when to shut up. The pictures tell the story.

        Vince McMahon can change all the rules he wants. He can put goofy nicknames on the backs of jerseys. It doesn't matter. The XFL is still bad football.

        Great sports television begins with great competition.

        CBS has done a good job so far with the tournament. The transparent score box in the upper left-hand corner is a great thing. (One complaint: Where was it at the end of the Kentucky game? Ohio State's game was winding down, but we were kept in the dark).

        The network also has been very good about giving bonus coverage. Case in point: We got the end of the Hampton game after the UC game ended. It was probably the moment of the tournament so far. Hampton coach Steve Merfeld's Jim Valvano-like sprint onto the court was priceless.

        The early ratings have held up for CBS. Thursday's games pulled a 4.7 rating and an 11 share. That was even with last year's first day, which was the best since 1994. Having the same ratings year to year is considered a victory in the 200-channel era of continually sliding numbers.

        Bill Walton, who called the UC game with Dick Enberg, isn't nearly as tough on college players as he is on NBA players. Didn't hear one “terrrrrible” from him all night.

        RADIO DAYS: The NCAA coverage on WCKY-AM (1360) has been a nice addition this year. It makes it easier to keep up with games when you're in and out of the car.

        LIVE! WBOB-AM (1160) began carrying the Dan Patrick Show live again Friday. The station had been running taped versions of both Tony Kornheiser's and Patrick's shows.

        Patrick's show will run from 1-4 p.m. It will be followed by ESPN's Game Day from 4-7 p.m.

        The move is a smart one. Running Patrick and Kornheiser both on tape meant listeners were getting old news updates.

        HABER SIGHTING: Brett Haber, a former Channel 9 weekend guy, got a lot of national air time the past few days. He was working as a sideline reporter for CBS at the NCAA sub-regional in Memphis.

        Haber, who is the anchor for the CBS affiliate in New York, also was the butt of a David Letterman gag Monday night.

        Letterman showed a promo Haber's station was running. In it, Haber was smiling into the camera and talking on the phone.

        “What's the deal with that?” Letterman said. “"I'm Brett Haber and I talk on the phone.'”

        OREL SPEAKING: Former pitcher Orel Hershiser has signed on to be a game analyst for ESPN. His first game will be the Reds on Opening Day.

        He'll call the Reds-Atlanta game on ESPN2 with partner Dave Barnett.

        DEEP POOL: ESPN ticked off the NCAA by offering $10,000 to the winner of its NCAA pool contest on ESPN.com. The NCAA frowns on any kind of gambling tie-ins — no matter how harmless they seem.

        ESPN's contract with NCAA for the women's tournament runs out after this season. The pool might be part of negotiations for the next project.

        E-mail: jfay@enquirer.com.

Online pool and college hoops coverage at Cincinnati.com



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