Jordan, Final Four double CBS producer's pleasure


Boy, these are interesting times for CBS producer Bob Dekas.

Not only will he be in charge of the production end of things when the network presents the men's Final Four this weekend, but Dekas, a lifelong Chicago Bulls fan, also is in a state of perpetual celebration now that You Know Who is back in the NBA.

"I grew up in Chicago and I am a huge Bulls fan. I took my kids to [Michael] Jordan's last game at the Stadium. I'm thrilled to have him back," said Dekas. "It's only when you've followed a team for that long when they start doing well do you appreciate what you've got. We've struggled for so many years with the Chicago Cubs being losers. It's been such a wonderful run. It's the greatest."

Like Jordan, Dekas, 43, is among the best in his profession, with nine Emmy awards, including four for NCAA coverage. His job this weekend is to make sure you see all the best replays and graphics from Seattle's Kingdome, provide communication with announcers Jim Nantz and Billy Packer as well as coordinate the airing of commercials.

Dekas, who will be paired with nine-time Emmy award-winning director Bob Fishman for their 11th Final Four, runs a productive truck, but you won't find the yelling and screaming that many in the public believe goes on during live productions.

"I never bought into that. I never thought you could get a guy all shook up and then have him do his best job. The best work happens when everybody can concentrate on their own jobs," said Dekas. "With graphics, if they make a mistake and I start yelling at them and they get tentative and nervous, I don't see how they can do a better job. I think that the best way they can work is if I encourage them and try to give them some positive reinforcement that they can be relaxed and do their jobs.

"The other thing is Bob Fishman and I have worked together for so long. We have a similar philosophy about things, plus we know each other so well. I know that I don't have to worry about him, that he's going to do his job well and he's going to get the best live pictures on the air. And he never has to worry about replays. It's a very good division of responsibility and it gets us into a little bit of a comfort zone."

Ratings recap

The NCAA tournament in general, and the Maryland Terps in particular, ruled the local ratings roost last weekend, according to Channel 2's Peter Leimbach, this week's sole and official "On the Air" ratings provider.

Maryland's tournament swan song, a West Regional semifinal loss to Connecticut on Thursday, was the most watched sporting event, drawing a 14.6 rating and 28 share of the audience for Channel 13.

Although tournament viewing levels were down from that high-water mark, even the worst-performing NCAA game, Kansas-Virginia, which got a 7.6/16 on Friday, was nearly three ratings points higher than the best of other performers, Sunday's Golden State-Orlando NBA game and the final round of the Tournament Players Championship golf tournament, both of which posted 4.7 ratings for Channel 11.

Bill from Washington? Hello

That really was President Clinton facing ESPN radio's Chuck Wilson and Tony Bruno last weekend.

The president covered a number of subjects in his 15-minute visit, including the progress of his beloved Arkansas Razorbacks through the tournament, the return of Jordan to the NBA and his role as the nation's First Fan.

His most telling comments came in regard to the baseball strike. Clinton lamented the end of last season, and said that baseball fans could become more enamored of minor-league teams or Little League clubs if the strike isn't resolved soon.

"If the fans finally get sick of it and decide they'd rather do something else, that's not good for baseball," said Clinton. "And in the end, that is the ultimate hazard, that if it becomes so painfully clear that it's no longer a sport and it's just a business, then the customers may decide to take their business elsewhere. They're about to run out this string. They need to resolve this."

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