Cathy Karp Gets Her Act Together on Highlight Show

Women working in sports broadcasting is not unusual anymore.

It has been more than 10 years since Jane Chastain, hired by CBS Sports, became the first network woman sportscaster. Women have been working behind the camera, too. Susan Stratton has been directing and producing Laker telecasts for eight seasons. Linda Jonsson, former coordinating producer for "SportsWorld" on NBC, works as a producer for Don Ohlmeyer Communications.

So it's not startling that someone named Cathy Karp is the person behind all those highlights that KTLA, Channel 5, offers on its weekend "Sports Page" shows. She is the producer.

What makes Karp's story different, however, is that she gave up a successful acting career four years ago to take a non-paying internship at KTLA just to learn the sports broadcasting business. She worked there for five months before getting her first paycheck.

Karp studied drama at Northwestern University and later the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago. She finished school in 1975 and went to New York, where she found work in plays, TV shows and commercials. She came to Los Angeles two years later.

"I made a good living in acting," she said, which is more than a lot of other show-biz people can say. "And I loved the work. But I love sports more. I grew up on sports in Chicago. So when the opportunity came to work at KTLA, I took it."

Joe Buttitta, KTLA sportscaster, said: "When I first heard that an actress had taken an internship I figured she'd last about two weeks. She'd find out there was a lot of work involved, and that would be that. But she stuck it out and has really established herself."

Besides producing, Karp also is sometimes the on-air reporter on features. She said she enjoys working on camera, and would like to do more of it. "With my dramatic training, I'm comfortable working in front of a camera," she said. "But I enjoy what I'm doing now--and I'm learning so much."

With the tremendous amount of sports being televised via satellite these days, weekend sports highlight shows such as KTLA's have become easy to do. Well, sort of. At least plenty of game footage is available.

Still, someone has to watch half a dozen or so monitors, mark down when high points occur, then put them together. That's what Karp does much of the time as the assistant producer to Steve Orlandella on weeknights. But she's the producer on weekends, and mainly supervises a crew of assistants and interns. It's her show. At about 10:40 on Saturday and Sunday nights, it offers about 12 minutes of that day's sports highlights.

One college football Saturday, highlights of 26 different games were aired. On one NFL Sunday, Karp said, highlights of 30 different sporting events were shown.

Channel 2 and Channel 4 also have expanded weekend sports highlight shows, but only on Sundays and not until well after 11 p.m., when many people have already gone to bed.

A problem Channel 5 faces sometimes is getting a camera crew out to a local event that is not being televised. When that happens, the "Sports Page" show will offer highlights from games across the country, yet have nothing of, say, a Clipper or USC game.

But generally the "Sports Page" show, now hosted by Buttitta, doesn't miss much.

Add Buttitta: In January, he won a Golden Mike. Two weeks later, he was fired by KTLA. But since his contract doesn't expire until Sept. 3, Buttitta, who has been at KTLA since 1980, was able to work a deal to stay on by agreeing to move from weeknights to weekends.

"I didn't have anything to fall back on and I needed those paychecks to keep coming," Buttitta said. "So that's what we worked out."

Steve Roah went from weekends to weeknights, but the station is looking for someone else as a permanent weeknight anchor. Former Channel 7 sports anchor Tony Hernandez, now a free-lance reporter for Channel 2, is a candidate.

Although Buttitta's work as a play-by-play announcer on Angel and UCLA telecasts was criticized by some, his work as a sports anchor has been generally well received.

"Nobody ever told me I wasn't doing a good job," he said. "I can't figure it out."

Express on radio: The Express' opener against Houston last Sunday was not on radio, but Saturday night's game at Portland will be broadcast by KROQ-fm (106.7). After that, KGIL (1260) and KEZY (1190) will carry the games. KFOX-fm (93.5) may be added to the network later.

The announcers will be Tom Kelly and Charleye Wright, although Wright is ill and will miss Saturday night's game. Kermit Alexander, the team's radio commentator last season, will fill in.

Notes Ratings game: Apparently, there's more interest in UCLA basketball outside Southern California. Last Sunday's UCLA-Louisville game on NBC got a national Nielsen rating of 3.4, but in Los Angeles only a 2.7. Meanwhile, the Laker-Knick game at New York on CBS got a national rating of 5.5, and an L.A. rating of 10.0. The national rating for Doug Flutie's USFL debut on ABC was 7.7. Two years ago, when Herschel Walker made his USFL debut, the national rating was 14.2. The USFL opener on ABC last season got an 8.0. The L.A. rating for last Sunday's USFL game was 5.1. Other L.A. ratings from last Sunday: Golf on CBS, 6.6; Kings on Channel 9, 1.4. . . . UCLA's game against Arizona Saturday at 11 a.m. at Pauley Pavilion will be regionally televised by CBS. . . . USC, in a rare Sunday game, will play Texas, and Channel 11 will televise the game on a two-hour tape-delay at 2 p.m., with Mike Walden and Jim Perry reporting. . . . Golden Gater Productions of San Francisco is offering live coverage of this weekend's American Ski event at Vail, Colo. Channel 7 will carry the telecasts at 2 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. . . . A new weekly show, "SportsFan Forum," makes its debut Monday night at 10 on Channel 56. The Phil Donohue-type talk show will be hosted by Channel 56 sports director Bob Elder. . . . Radio station KDAY (1580) will carry tonight's City 3-A and 4-A championship games at the Sports Arena, with Pete Arbogast and Mike Helmert reporting.

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