Some cheers and jeers for the year just past

It's a new year, meaning it is time once again for Media Monitor's selection of notable broadcast figures from the year just ended, for achievements worthy of praise and/or punishment:

* Dan Rather -- The CBS anchorman, often perceived as arrogant and aloof, came to Baltimore in January to deliver an achievement-oriented anti-drug message to students at Catonsville Middle School. He came across as fairly warm and genuine, and was rather aggressively upstaged by WBAL-Channel 11 anchorman Rod Daniels.


* Alan Christian -- Punishment is the operative word here, for the longtime radio talk host ran afoul of the law in 1990. Trying to establish the Atlantic Coast Radio network on WITH-AM 1230, Christian collected money from investors, but in October pleaded guilty to embezzlement and violating the Maryland Securities Act. With partner Grace Starmer, he received a five-year suspended sentence and was slapped with a $679,894 fine.

* Rudy Miller -- Fired by WBAL in 1989, the anchorwoman pursued a sex-discrimination case. In November, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission filed suit on her behalf, charging the station with paying her far less than its male anchors. Miller, meanwhile, moved this year to radio with a bright two-way call-in show on WCBM-AM 680, and is also publisher of a fledgling magazine devoted to families.


* Eric Pierpoint -- Police detective George on the canceled "Alien Nation," Pierpoint took fatherhood to a new realm in February. The space alien species he portrayed takes the idea of sharing parental duties a little more literally than humans, and Pierpoint gave birth in a sensitive show which cleverly made fun of some of the sexual stereotyping of us Earthlings.

* George Lewis -- In the spring, the 63-year-old Lewis, a.k.a. "Captain Chesapeake," sailed away into retirement after hosting the afternoon cartoon lineup on WBFF-Channel 45 since the station's inception in 1971.

* Kenny Curtis & Steve Harper and Stu Kerr & Robb Lovett -- Curtis and Harper were the young guys who replaced Captain Chesapeake on Channel 45, presiding together over the morning and afternoon "Fox 45 Clubhouse." Kerr and Lovett do a similar job on rival WNUV-Channel 54's "54 Space Corps" morning/afternoon program, and it's nice that two local stations feel a responsibility to do some local production for kids.

* Bob Newhart and Gary Shandling -- The two comedians both ended their successful series at the end of last season in appropriately satisfying style. Do you remember? In CBS' "Newhart," Dick Louden (Newhart) took a golf ball in the head and woke up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette, on the set from his previous series. And Shandling (whose series ran on cable's Showtime) climbed into his golf-cart/auto for a final tour of cast and crew.