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L.A. EXPRESS: THE VALLEY EXPERIMENT : TUNING IN OR TUNING OUT? : KWNK Pays No Fee for Rights, but Has a Rich Interest in Game

In the Los Angeles Express’ search for survival, Randy Rosenbloom is caught in the middle.

When the Express play host to the Arizona Wranglers in a United States Football League game Saturday at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Rosenbloom will play a major role as his personal and professional interests collide.

It’s not necessarily an ideal combination for the Express play-by-play announcer.

Born, raised and educated in the San Fernando Valley, Rosenbloom would like nothing more than to see pro football based in his hometown. “If we have a team here, it makes it more mine,” he said.

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Professionally, the Express’ decision to move its final home game of the season to the Valley--based on sagging attendance at the Los Angeles Coliseum--also has its benefits for Rosenbloom, the sports director at KWNK-AM radio (670) in Simi Valley.

The 1,000-watt station, in only its ninth month of operation, holds the broadcasting rights to Express football. With the Express moving to Pierce Friday, the fledging station will air the first regular-season pro football game played in its home market.

Though each of Rosenbloom’s interests would appear to be satisfied, the veteran broadcaster does have a legitimate concern.

“The caution flag that goes up is that I’m not a homer, and I never have been,” he said. “But I’ll have to guard that, because obviously I want (the Express) to do well. It will be a hard thing to do.

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“As a resident of the Valley for most of my 33 years, I’d love to have the Express in the San Fernando Valley. I think it would be great for the Valley, because people here generally like to stay within the Valley.”

That line also explains KWNK’s interests, which would obviously be enhanced if it were to hold the broadcast rights to a professional football team in its immediate region.

“Geographically, it’s more suitable for us,” Rosenbloom said of the Express’ move to Pierce. “And this game means so much to the franchise in terms of getting a team in the Valley.”

The survival of the Express may depend on just that. Operated by the league office in the absence of an owner--and nearly as important, an absence of fans--the switch of home sites was made in the hope that a new source of support, and perhaps some potential buyers, will surface in the Valley.

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In the midst of the Express’ identity crisis, KWNK is unflinching in the approach to its broadcast package. For the new kid on the local radio market block, Express football is still a hot commodity at KWNK.

The station pays no fees for broadcasting rights to the Express, and travel expenses for Rosenbloom, color man Ron Glazer and engineer Bill Cabranes are picked up by the team. Financially, it’s a viable venture for KWNK, Rosenbloom said.

“We’re approaching it as the biggest sporting event that we’ve gotten so far,” Rosenbloom said. “We’re very proud of the package we’ve put together. For a station that’s nine months old, I think we’ve put together a hell of a listening package, although we haven’t tried to get too technical yet.”

Rosenbloom said his broadcast team might try to add a post-game show to its program, but he realizes the future of football in the Valley won’t be decided over the airwaves.

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Instead, he said the Express must create an atmosphere around its games that is captured at other stops in the league.

“I have to admit the road games are more fun because the crowds are larger,” Rosenbloom said. “The most fun was at Jacksonville, where the crowd was 51,000.

“When you go to Jacksonville, even though it’s the USFL, it seems like the NFL. People are talking about football. In Oakland, they’re still bitter about the Raiders leaving, but they’ve accepted the Invaders. They’re talking football there.”

The atmosphere dies in Los Angeles, where when they talk about football, it seldom has anything to do with the Express, Rosenbloom said.

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“The sad part about what I see in Los Angeles is that nobody is behind the Express,” he said. “It could be a situation where people talk about them, as it is in Jacksonville and Oakland.

“Even in San Antonio, where a lot of the press is negative, at least they’re talking about the USFL. You go to L.A., and you don’t here anything about the Express, and that hurts.

“Interest is one thing I think the Valley can give the Express.”

Regardless of its local following, KWNK is still interested in the Express, Rosenbloom said. At this stage of its existence, the Simi Valley station feels fortunate to be broadcasting professional football.

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“This is a bigger package than we ever expected we’d have with the signal we have,” Rosenbloom said. “We didn’t intend to get into a package like this, but we got it.”

The KWNK package mirrors Rosenbloom’s career in that the young station took what it could get. In a 16-year professional broadcasting career, there has never been too much work for Rosenbloom.

A graduate of North Hollywood High, Valley Junior College and Cal State Northridge, Rosenbloom has done a little bit of everything. He says he’s broadcasted 16 different sports, and his list of work is seemingly endless.

And the job has exacted a price. He said it helped wreck one marriage, and his constant travel still doesn’t agree with many of those to whom he’s close. “But I’m 33, so I guess I should be able to do what I want.

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“There are no guarantees,” he said. “You never have too much work in broadcasting. Very few people work continually. If I’m lucky, then it’s hard work that’s gotten me here.”

In addition to his work with the Express, Rosenbloom teams with Glazer on a Sunday night talk show on KFOX-FM of Redondo Beach. The show airs live from C.J. Brett’s, and among his guests have been former Laker Happy Hairston, Michael Cage of the Los Angeles Clippers and Henry Lawrence of the Raiders.

In the fall, Rosenbloom will return for his fourth season as the voice of the Nevada-Las Vegas football team. He also expects to be back as the announcer for UCLA women’s basketball for the third straight year, and his outside assignments are numerous.

He broadcasts the NCAA Division I volleyball final in April, and has worked for the ESPN and USA networks.

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Rosenbloom’s work also includes weekly high school games, a series he developed for KWNK. Despite his experience at the college and professional levels of athletics, Rosenbloom is not opposed to announcing the preps.

“If that was the only thing I did, it would probably bother me,” he said, “only because from an ability standpoint, I wouldn’t be reaching the people I should. But what I like about the preps is that they’re exciting. And if packaged correctly, they can be a lot of fun.

“Every time you get behind the microphone, you have to do the best job you can do. It’s just like the players, to make it to the pros you have to make the necessary steps: preps, college to pros.

“It’s kind of crazy because I’m doing all three. But I was put on earth to be a broadcaster, and I’ll die in that same vein.”

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He hopes the funeral won’t be Saturday, when the Express battles for survival. But Rosenbloom knows that as attendance will be a factor in pro football’s future in the Valley, so too will the product the Express puts on the field.

“It’s hard to say in a one-shot deal like this with a team that’s 3-13,” he said. “Unfortunately, the Express is a team depleted by injury. It will be a question of whether they have enough numbers to win.”

In this instance, the numbers in the stands will be just as important as those on the field.

Either way, Randy Rosenbloom’s interests will be represented.

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