Nall mix-up starts TV tug of war WBAL pre-empts WJZ's interview


So you're a producer of the early morning news program on Channel 13 and you're waiting for Anita Nall to show up at your station for an exclusive interview.

You look up at a TV monitoring the competition, and there is Baltimore's Olympic heroine being interviewed on Channel 11 -- live -- just a few hundred yards away down Television Hill!

When the staff at WJZ saw their star on WBAL yesterday, they reacted immediately.

"They dispatched an envoy who politely reminded us where we were supposed to be in the first place, up at Channel 13 being interviewed by Marty Bass," said John Nall, Anita's father.

The mix-up reportedly had the air beneath the TV tower crackling with a particular intensity, though later in the day tempers cooled and everyone was making nice.

"We booked Anita Nall for an interview several days ago," said Gail Bending, on-air manager at WJZ.

"With WJZ and WBAL both on Television Hill, it's understandable that she and her father could make this mistake. We were surprised that when Mr. Nall asked for Marty Bass, no one at WBAL sent him up the hill to WJZ," she said.

"It was all my fault," Mr. Nall said, admitting that he thought Channel 13 was WBAL.

"Anita was the one who knew better. She kept saying, 'Dad, I don't think we're in the right place,' but I kept telling her that we were.

"I did notice these 11s all over the place," he said of studios at WBAL. "I thought maybe she was right, but then I looked up at a monitor and saw Marty Bass."

He had happened to look at a set tuned to the competition.

The personnel at Channel 11 juggled the schedule and put the athlete on the air. They even managed to get her on WBAL radio for a short bit before Channel 13 personnel showed up to claim her.

Mr. Nall vaguely recalls asking for Mr. Bass. "I might have said it to a technician or something, I'm not sure," he said, indicating that at that point his comment was probably taken as a joke.

Dave Roberts, WBAL's assistant news director, said: "It was a misunderstanding that has been rectified with all the parties involved."

"Two people from WBAL called to apologize today," Mr. Nall said. "They didn't really have to do that. I was the one who made the mistake. Besides, we did two TV stations and one radio station in less than an hour this morning.

"That's not bad."

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