Ravens' radio team calls audible Cunningham out


Another year, another series of moves on Ravens radio.

For a third straight season, the cast of characters is being changed on Ravens broadcasts on WJFK (1300 AM) and WLIF (101.9 FM), with the biggest shift coming among the game announcers themselves, where former analyst/sideline reporter Bruce Cunningham has been taken out of the mix on game days.

Also, Tony Harris, news anchor at channels 45 and 54, will be host of the team's Sunday pre-game show, with Stan "The Fan" Charles, last year's pre-game and post-game host, taking over just the post-game program.

Cunningham, the weekday anchor and sports director at channels 45 and 54, had been a booth analyst with former Colt Tom Matte in the Ravens' first season, then was shifted to the sideline as a reporter last year.

But Ken Stevens, the general manager of WLIF and WJFK, said he felt there "was no need" for the sideline post this season, and the booth will be manned by just Matte and Scott Garceau, who returns in the play-by-play slot.

"Bruce is very popular here, going back to the CFL days," said Stevens. "We expect him to be a part of the team. He's just not a starter in this lineup."

Stevens said the issue was not a financial one, but Cunningham said he had been asked to take a pay cut that he felt was too large considering the amount of travel and the level of his duties.

Cunningham declined to provide financial specifics, but sources close to the situation say he would have had to have taken a 90 percent pay cut to remain.

"I'm not bitter," said Cunningham. "They've been very good to me and I've been good to them. It came down to the notion that I was a luxury. Tom and Scott were a necessity. I understand that. It hasn't hurt my confidence in my abilities. Not one bit."

Cunningham, who called Baltimore Stallions games on WJFK, will continue to be host of the Saturday afternoon Ravens talk show with Matte on the station.

Meanwhile, Harris, who was co-host of the Ravens' Saturday night television coaches show last year, will serve as traffic cop to Sun columnist Ken Rosenthal, former Colt Bruce Laird and Channel 13 morning weather guy Marty Bass.

"He's a great anchor," said Stevens. "We're looking for a professional announcer to mix in with experts, and Tony's the right guy."

Charles will be joined on the post-game program by Laird and longtime producer/collaborator Paul Mittermier.

'The American Game'

What makes tonight's "Peter Jennings Reporting: The American Game" documentary (Channel 2, 9: 30 p.m.) is its utter simplicity.

At the show's core is a willingness on the part of Jennings and his producers and crew to simply let the game of baseball -- shown through the perspective of a summer with the Hagerstown Little League -- speak for itself.

There are no self-proclaimed experts, no rotisserie geeks, no George Will or Roger Angell or (thank goodness) Ken Burns to fit baseball's significance into a cosmic scheme. There is the bat and the ball and how the meeting of one upon the other affect the lives of the children who play the game and their parents who watch.

A tired rap

The centerpiece of the new HBO "Real Sports" magazine, airing today at 11: 30 a.m. and at 8 p.m., is yet another attempt by Pete Rose to gain absolution for his gambling, tied to the induction of another Hall of Fame class.

Once again, Rose makes a plea for reinstatement to baseball and reporter Frank Deford falls for it, linking that story to the tale of "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. Rose's tale is as fresh as year-old meat and Deford and his HBO producers should have held their noses and walked away.

Sonja Steptoe's piece on the doping of East German swimmers and track athletes and Armen Keteyian's interview with former boxer Tony Ayala Jr., facing a 15- to 30-year prison term for burglary and sexual assault, are worthy ones, but are tainted by the stench of Rose.

Just wondering

Why is Joe Carter still in television promos after he was dispatched from "Baseball City" last week?

By the way, just who exactly is the mayor of "Baseball City"? For that matter, who's the state's attorney? The head of public works? The director of finance? The chief of police?

In other words, who's responsible?

Weekend ratings

The ratings for the top 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television in Baltimore last weekend:

Event .. .. .. .. .. Day .. .. Ch. .. .. .. R/S

O's-Mariners . .. .. Fri. . .. 13 ... .. 14.9/29

O's-A's .. .. .. ... Thu. . .. 13 ... .. 12.5/23

O's-Mariners ... ... Sun. . .. 13 .. .... 9.3/24

O's-Mariners .. .. . Sat. .. . 45 .. .. . 6.5/19

Goodwill Gms. .. ... Sun. .. . 13 .. .. . 4.2/11

Goodwill Gms. .. ... Sat. .. . 13 .. .. .. 2.7/8

U.S. Sr. Open .. ... Sun. .. . 11 .. .. .. 2.7/6

Boxing .. .. .. .. . Sun. .. .. 2 .. .. .. 2.5/6

U.S. Sr. Open .. ... Sat. .. . 11 .. .. .. 2.2/6

Track & field .. ... Sun. .. . 11 .. .. .. 1.9/5

R-Rating. S-Share

Pub Date: 7/30/98

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