WBAL's 'SportsLine' expands to four hours beginning tonight

In a move that seemed to be long in coming, WBAL (1090 AM) is expanding its nighttime sports talk show, beginning tonight.

"SportsLine," which had run for two hours each weeknight, will now air from 6 to 10 on nights during this month when the Orioles are off, and throughout the entire year, supplanting the politically oriented programming the station has aired in the evenings.


"With our commitments to the Orioles, we have a sporting event on every night during the spring and summer, and with Terps football and basketball and the NFL coming, it seemed like the right thing to do," said Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL's vice president and station manager.

The expansion means that Josh Lewin, who has been with the station for nearly 1 1/2 years, will have the heaviest on-air workload of any Baltimore talk guy.


"The fact of the matter is if we didn't have Josh Lewin, chances are we'd be going in a different direction," said Beauchamp. "The fact is that Josh is a real talent and has grown and improved."

Beauchamp said the move to expand the show was not in response to other stations, but WBAL, in some respects, had ceded a good chunk of the predominantly male audience that listens to sports and related programming to other stations, such as WWLG (1360 AM), which airs eight hours of sports each weeknight, and WCBM (680 AM) during non-Orioles periods.

Interestingly, even with two of the four major team sports in town, the time still doesn't appear to be right for an all-sports format, unless a station, such as WJFK (1300 AM), for instance, snags the rights to the new football team and combines football-related programming with a mix of local and syndicated fare.

Packer's monkey business

There really is nothing surprising about Billy Packer's thoughtless nicknaming of Georgetown guard Allen Iverson as a "tough monkey" during Saturday's Hoyas-Villanova game.

Packer, CBS's lead basketball analyst, has made a habit of making statements that, if not bigoted, displayed a certain lack of sensibility and sensitivity, though, in this case, he did recognize his faux pas and apologized.

And it's not a big surprise that Hoyas coach John Thompson, who declared that neither he nor Iverson was offended by the remark, would be willing to overlook Packer's indiscretion.

After all, Packer, who arranges many of CBS' matchups, has put a lot of ducats in Thompson's pocket, and as Big John always says, it's not about black or white, it's about green.


Still, with its biggest event of the year, the NCAA tournament, right around the corner, CBS, which has had more than a few problems recently with loose-lipped announcers, ought to be more than a little worried about its loose cannon.

More conference titles

It's a good day to have the combination of a cable hook-up and lots of time to kill as the college basketball conference tournaments move along.

On ESPN today are championship games from the Metro Atlantic (7:30 p.m.) and the Missouri Valley (9:30 p.m.) conferences, with Digger Phelps serving as studio analyst. ESPN2 has four women's championships, from the Atlantic 10 (5 p.m.), the Southeastern (7 p.m.), the Big Ten (9 p.m.) and Conference USA (11 p.m.).

Home Team Sports delivers the Colonial Athletic men's title game at 7 p.m., after both Atlantic 10 women's semifinals at 1 p.m. and the Mid-Eastern Athletic women's final at 5 p.m.