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Wood still in search of perfect format


In a perfect world, or at least a perfect sports talk radio world, Phil Wood, the best and brightest of his type in Baltimore, would reign supreme at a station with a powerful signal and the inclination to give the kind of time and support to make a go of it.

So far, however, Wood hasn't found that perfect place, and so he'll be leaving his late-night perch on WCBM (680 AM) after tonight's 10 o'clock broadcast.

"One of the callers asked on the air the other night: 'So, how many last shows have I heard you do?' " Wood cracked yesterday.

Wood has been a frequent staple of local sports talk for most of the last 17 years, at either WCBM or the now defunct WYST-AM. The latest WCBM gig, in which he headed up up "Sports Final," a three-hour program with former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, former Evening Sun and Sun baseball writer Jim Henneman and longtime Evening Sun and Sun columnist Phil Jackman, had a one-year run, and was the best show in town.

But Wood, who is a full-time staffer at Washington's all-sports WTEM (980 AM), found it difficult to negotiate working mornings in the nation's capital and evenings here in Charm City, and eventually, and sensibly, opted for the more permanent deal.

"It [the jobs] was a killer. You don't get much sleep at night and you have to take a nap in the afternoon, plus I have a family," Wood said. "Also, I wasn't comfortable with the format of the rest of the station."

WCBM airs conservative-oriented talk the remainder of the day, and the time for "Sports Final" was purchased by veteran local sportscaster Tom Davis.

Wood will do some spring training reporting for WTEM, then join a pool of hosts for the station's new afternoon block of programming before taking over a mid-morning shift in the summer.

Someday, that perfect sports talk outlet will exist in Baltimore, and with any luck, Phil Wood will be a mainstay of it.

Anchors aweigh

The nautical bunch has its collective sails in a bunch over what appeared to be a shrewd promotional and marketing ploy by Fox that might jeopardize the telecast of the America's Cup races on ESPN.

In a nutshell, here's what's at issue: Fox purchased the sponsorship rights to Young America, one of the 15 competitors in the races, scheduled to begin in October off the New Zealand coast. In exchange for its sponsorship money, Fox is expecting to plaster the yacht with its logo.

But ESPN, which has purchased broadcast rights and plans to carry as many as 80 hours of coverage, is balking at the prospect of having its chief cable competitor's identifying mark on its air, and is threatening to pull out of the telecasts unless Fox's logos are yanked.

On the current edition of HBO's "Real Sports," ESPN chieftain Steve Bornstein decreed that the Fox logos would not be shown on "the worldwide leader in sports" air.

All 15 Cup competitors, including Young America, must agree not to allow any sponsors to put signage on the boats if the corporation competes with ESPN, which given the cable behemoth's proclivities, could include darned near anything from magazines to restaurants to online services.


Enough already

The following is a short list of things that are plucking at your friendly neighborhood media watcher's last nerve here of late: Stupid scheduling tricks. Does anyone see the logic in having Tennessee and Georgia, two schools in the Eastern time zone, tip off a college basketball game at 9: 30 local time on ESPN, while Iowa and Northwestern, two Central time zone schools, played at 6: 30 local time, as happened Tuesday night?

Those cheesy Mike Mussina promos for Comcast. They were merely irritating last year. One can only imagine how insufferable they are now, plastered twice an hour through shows.

The new extra half-hour of the "Sports Reporters." Just what we didn't ask for: another 30 minutes of sophomoric blather, with gratuitous promos for ESPN's otherwise worthy "SportsCentury" project. Does anyone else remember when Gary Thorne used to be this show's host? If we beg hard enough, do you think he'll come back?

Tim Brando, Kevin Harlan and Brad Nessler. Exactly who let these three blow-dried yahoos into gymnasiums, much less turned them loose on actual games? Someone at ABC is actually considering replacing the great Keith Jackson with Nessler on college football play-by-play. And the only appropriate response to that is, Whoa, Nellie, what a mistake that would be!

Dennis Rodman. Any first-grade teacher will tell you that the child who screams and kicks the most in class is only trying to get himself noticed. Take away the attention and the kid settles down. It would be nice to test that theory out on Rodman, but the media just won't stop watching him.

Excessive promos. Can we please just have our games (and for that matter, our entertainment shows) back from not-so friendly reminders that there's other programming on?

An NBC executive told the Los Angeles Times that if "sports got some adverse comments they would pull back very quickly," Well, take them up on the offer. The next time any network or local outlet pollutes your airspace with needless hype, pick up the phone, give it a call and say:


Week's ratings Ratings for the top 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television from Feb. 17-23 (R-Rating; S-Share):

Event Day Ch. R/S

Golf Sun. 13 6.4/12

NBA postgame Sun. 11 6.0/8

Md.-Ga. Tech Sun. 54 5.2/11

Lakers-Sonics Sun. 11 4.8/8

Golf Sat. 13 4.1/10

Rockets-Magic Sun. 11 3.9/8

Golf highlights Fri. 13 3.7/11

Skating Sun. 2 3.5/8

NBA postgame Sun. 11 3.5/6

NBA Showtime Sun. 11 3.4/8

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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