The final pieces of the Orioles' broadcasting packages could fall into place within the next couple of days, team and broadcast sources say.
From all indications, the team's over-the-air television package will return to Channel 13, where it has been for the last three years. Sources say the station will carry approximately 35 regular-season games, the number it aired last year. There's no word on whether Channel 54 will continue as a backup telecaster.
Things are much more jumbled on the radio side. Reports within the local broadcasting industry indicate that WBAL (1090 AM), the current rights-holder, has emerged as the favorite to retain the team's broadcasts after a long and protracted period of negotiation.
Sources say Infinity Broadcasting, the Ravens' carrier and expected to be WBAL's prime competition, has slid out of contention. That theoretically leaves the field open for 50,000-watt WBAL, which has been the Orioles' radio home since 1988, after holding the rights during the early days of the franchise.
However, reports are circulating that a combined bid from WCBM (680 AM) and WQSR (105.7 FM) is being considered by the Orioles. WCBM was the longtime home of the Colts and carried the Orioles for one season in 1987 before losing them to WBAL, and has an all-talk format, similar to that of WBAL. WQSR, which bid heavily for Ravens games, has an oldies music format, and reportedly would carry baseball on weekends.
The radio rights-holder reportedly would carry the games for three years, for anywhere between $3 million and $4 million per season, an upgrade from the $2.5 million the team received annually from WBAL and WTOP (1500 AM) in its last contract.
The college hoop scene
Here's a look at the coverage plans of some local broadcasting outlets during the 1996-97 college basketball season:
Home Team Sports will air 92 men's and 49 women's games this season. Its men's package, which features all but 11 contests aired live, will commence Sunday with live coverage of the Wake Forest-Virginia Military game at 1: 30 p.m. Maryland will make four HTS appearances, including a game in the Franklin Bank Classic on Dec. 9 and an ACC meeting with Florida State on Jan. 29.
Mount St. Mary's will make three HTS appearances, against Villanova (Dec. 21), Pittsburgh (Dec. 23) and Liberty (Jan. 6), and Morgan State gets two airings, against Hampton (Jan. 25) and UMES (Jan. 30). Coppin State will play North Carolina A&T; on HTS on Jan. 15.
The HTS women's schedule has 31 live contests, features Maryland in four appearances and culminates with live coverage of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals and championship game in March.
Loyola's 14-game men's radio package has moved to WWLG (1360 AM) and WASA (1330 AM), beginning with Saturday's game at UMBC with Scott Garceau and Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan at the microphones. The stations will also carry five women's games, starting with a Dec. 3 game at Towson State, with Dan Gretz and Scott Lowe calling the action.
Finally, Frederick's WXTR (820 AM) will be the radio home of Mount St. Mary's basketball, carrying all of the Mountaineers men's games and 12 regular-season women's games, with Matt Noble and Roy Sigler. The men's broadcast schedule opens this Saturday with a game at Penn State, and the first women's contest to be broadcast is next Tuesday at UMBC.
A two-medium star?
It turns out that Howie Long, who had a part in the movie Broken Arrow," isn't the only person on the "Fox NFL Sunday" set attempting to make a mark in another medium, as pre-game show colleague Terry Bradshaw has an album available in record stores.
We'll wait for the laughter to subside.
Bradshaw teams with recording artist Jake Hess on a 10-song gospel collection titled, oddly enough, "Terry and Jake." Now, while nothing on the album will likely challenge "The Macarena" for mass-market popularity, the former Steelers quarterback shows a surprising aural dexterity, particularly on his solo, "My Room of Prayer," a ballad with a bluesy feel.
Don't hold your breath waiting for "Dick Vitale Sings All The Great Love Songs."
Pub Date: 11/21/96