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Bruno has ear for all that counts


Say you're driving around this weekend, you've been away from the TV set all day and you're looking for some snappy banter, informed chatter and a score or two or 50.

In Tony Bruno's not-so-humble opinion, you couldn't do better than a few minutes or more with ESPN Radio, which is what your local sports show wishes it could be.

"To me, this is the perfect format for the weekend. You've got quality talent, people who know what they're doing and you're getting the latest scores," said Bruno. "Local radio cannot compete with it. There's no way a local format can put the right people on the air and deliver the format that we do."

What ESPN Radio -- heard on 275 stations across the country, including WBAL (1090 AM) here -- doesn't have is listener phone calls, not a single one during the 14 hours it airs on Saturdays and Sundays, another factor that sets it above a local show, in Bruno's mind.

"The advantage of ESPN Radio is we're all pretty good talent, so you're giving the listener on the weekends the advantage of opinions that a lot of people have around the country on local talk shows, but they don't have to call in and be repetitive and boring, like a lot of the weekend shows are," said Bruno, who is usually joined by Chuck Wilson and Peter Brown.

Bruno, host of a nutty, wacky kind of weekday morning talk show on Philadelphia's WIP-AM, an all-sports station, does take calls during the week, but that format works because the calls are carefully screened for maximum on-air entertainment.

By the way, expect to hear the dulcet tones of WBAL's Pam Ward sitting in with Bruno both tomorrow and Sunday on ESPN Radio.

Passionate debut

The first of four one-hour "Passion to Play" specials celebrating the role of women in sports airs this Sunday at 3 p.m. on ABC (Channel 2).

This week's show spotlights the accomplishments of two former Olympic champions, figure skater Katarina Witt of the former East Germany and gymnast Nadia Comaneci of Romania, with tours to their respective homelands.

Sunday's hour, with host Lesley Visser, is a tad disappointing on two counts. First, the choice of the two Eastern Europeans seems to have been made strictly for their name value. Second, the viewer learns little about either Witt or Comaneci that he or she doesn't already know.

Still, ABC deserves tremendous credit for airing the specials, which likely will get bashed in the ratings.

Lacrosse showdown

The big men's lacrosse game of the weekend, matching top-ranked Johns Hopkins against No. 3 Maryland, gets big-time treatment on WWLG (1360 AM) tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. with Loyola coach Dave Cottle providing pre-game analysis and Sun lacrosse writer Mike Preston sizing up the first half at intermission.

ESPN2 (sorry, city residents) will carry a tape-delayed broadcast of the game Monday at 8 p.m., as a part of its "Great College Rivalries" series.

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