Starting Aug. 3, Baltimore will join the rest of the nation, getting its own all-sports radio station.
Nestor Aparicio, host of an afternoon drive time sports talk show on WWLG (1360 AM), has reached an agreement to purchase time on and program WKDB (1570 AM) with an all-sports format.
Aparicio, who will have a show on the station from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., said he is hoping to re-title the station WNST, pending FCC approval, in keeping with his on-air "nasty" persona.
While the new format will not operate until Aug. 3, tapes of Aparicio's WWLG show can be heard on WKDB until then. On that date, "One on One" morning host Damon Perry can be heard from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays, followed by local personality Spiro Morekas until noon. Then, syndicated talker Jim Rome, a Los Angeles-based host, will air until 4 p.m., with "One on One" programming airing overnight.
Stations such as WBAL (1090 AM) and WJFK (1300 AM) run significant blocks of sports programming on weekday evenings and on the weekends, and Washington's WTEM (980 AM) airs all sports programming.
But WKDB's format change is the first all-sports attempt in Baltimore, and Aparicio says that his 6 1/2 years of experience in sports talk in this area and his knowledge of the market will make his venture successful.
"I have told people that I didn't think it would work and for someone on the outside, if they started up right now, they'd have no programming, no billing, no sponsorship, no track record," Aparicio said. "But I have all of that. We have built-in sponsors, I have built-in listenership. It's a really good situation."
David Eppler, one of the station's co-owners, said Aparicio had signed a one-year local marketing agreement last week to run the station with an option to purchase it outright.
WKDB operates out of Towson at 5,000 watts of power during daylight hours, and powers down to 237 watts at night, making its signal difficult to reach in most of the southern part of the market.
Because of that, Aparicio said the station will do the bulk of billing during the day, and his show will shift to 8 a.m to noon during the winter months, with repeats in the 4-8 p.m. slot.
Over the fences
The corks are popped and champagne is flowing at Fox headquarters as network officials giddily drink in the best baseball ratings news to date in two-plus seasons of coverage.
Saturday's regional slate of interleague games took in a 4.8 Nielsen overnight rating and a 13 share of 39 big-city markets around the country. That's the highest rating for a Fox Saturday afternoon game ever, topping the 4.3/12 from last Aug. 23.
Saturday's numbers were no doubt spiked by a 21.4/49 rating in Cleveland for the telecast of the Indians-Houston game, the highest local regular-season number ever for a Fox game as well as a 10.9/28 rating in New York, the highest number ever for a Fox game in that city, as the local station there aired the Yankees-Mets contest.
Locally, the Yankees-Mets game did a 2.4/7 on Channel 45.
Virtually any analyst, particularly one who has spent time as a player, will say that the toughest part of the job is being critical of current competitors, particularly if they've played against them.
NBC tennis analyst Chris Evert recently recalled how difficult her first and second years in the booth were because contemporaries and friends like Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf were still playing.
"It's getting easier for me to be critical as I move away from the game," Evert said. "Now, I have sort of a different perspective when I see, say a [Anna] Kournikova. I feel like I can have constructive criticism because I have no personal relationship with her and that certainly helps me a lot."
Evert recalled that near the end of her career, Mary Carillo said that Evert should retire because she wouldn't win another major title.
"I was very hurt by that. But you know what? She was right," Evert said. "I think most of the time, the analysts are right, and I think that if I really believe something and it's constructive criticism, even though it might hurt their feelings, I still go for it, because I think our loyalty is more to the job right now than it is to the players."
Studying the film
So, we're watching the ESPN Sunday night baseball game the other night, and a picture of actor James Caan flashes on the screen, and former Baltimore homeboy Jon Miller tells the story of how Caan's Sonny Corleone character was killed in the tollbooth scene of "The Godfather."
And then, Miller relates how the voice of former Giants radio announcer Russ Hodges was calling Game 3 of the 1951 Dodgers-Giants playoff in the background as Sonny was killed, and we thought, man, Jon has got to get out more often.
The ratings for the top 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television in Baltimore last weekend:
Event, Day, Ch. R/S
Orioles-Mets, Thu., 13, 10.4/18
Orioles-Expos, Fri., 13, 9.6/18
Orioles-Expos, Sat., 54, 5.7/10
Orioles-Expos, Sun., 13, 5.0/13
Golf, Sun., 13, 3.6/9
Bowling, Sat., 13, 3.3/10
Golf, Sat., 13, 2.7/7
WNBA game, Sat., 11, 2.6/7
Wimbledon, Sun., 11, 2.6/6
Yankees-Mets, Sat., 45, 2.4/7
Pub Date: 6/30/98