There's No Shame in This--Roggin Was the Best of '86

This time of year, many of the nation's sports TV critics will name their best and worst. They will extol such people as John Madden, Al Michaels and Dick Enberg while chastising the likes of Ara Parshegian and Jimmy The Greek.

Once more, they will pick on CBS for showing a commercial while Notre Dame was beating USC with a last-second field goal. And some will make fun of NBC's "NFL '86," which has become sports' version of the "Wally George Show."

Locally, Channel 4's Fred Roggin is the pick here as Los Angeles' best sports anchor.

Channel 2's Jim Hill probably is more popular. He certainly has more charisma. For one thing, Roggin's smile comes across as more of a smirk, which is a turnoff to the average viewer.

But Roggin gets the nod here, essentially because he is creative without being offensive or corny, at least most of the time.

Channel 5's Keith Olbermann, on the other hand, attempts creativity but fails miserably. Worse yet, Olbermann actually thinks he's funny.

This is not to imply that Roggin's work is flawless. But he usually is accurate, and he almost always is entertaining.

He isn't afraid to try new things, and they usually work. His "Mr. Roggin's Neighborhood," which he hasn't done for a while, is popular, and his "Hall of Shame" has become a big hit.

His half-hour year-end "Hall of Shame" last Sunday night drew an outstanding 12.2 Nielsen rating. It will be repeated at 9 p.m. next Friday, following NBC's coverage of the Fiesta Bowl.

The feeling here is the show had its moments but overall was a little disappointing. It seems there just wasn't enough quality material to fill a half-hour, so Roggin had to stretch. The result was an over-produced show.

Also, Roggin shamelessly promoted the first showing. Last Friday, for example, the "Hall of Shame" promos got almost as much time as that night's Ram game.

Maybe Roggin became too wrapped up in it. He and editor Steve Pomerantz spent countless hours putting the show together.

Roggin is a workaholic whose willingness to spend a lot of time in the tape room is one of his strong points. The easy way out is to rely on easy-to-do, predictable and usually boring interviews with pro athletes and coaches.

Roggin's fast rise in such a tough field as sports broadcasting is an encouraging success story.

His educational background is only six months of junior college in his hometown of Phoenix. Yet he was working for the ABC affiliate in Austin, Tex., shortly after his 20th birthday, and was back in Phoenix working at the NBC affiliate less than a year later.

He came to Los Angeles, the nation's No. 2 television market, at age 23. He's now 29 and Channel 4's No. 1 sportscaster.

He has yet to gain national recognition, although he has done play-by-play on a few National Football League games for NBC. Before he worked his first game, USA Today listed his name and spelled it "Rottin."

Roggin called USA Today's Rudy Martzke and said, "If you're going to call me rotten, at least wait until I've done the game."

Roggin said that when he was attending Phoenix's West High School, he wanted to be an National Basketball Assn. official. Or a baseball umpire. Or possibly a lawyer.

But play-by-play also interested him. "As a sub on the basketball team, I sat at the end of the bench and did play-by-play for the cheerleaders," he said.

He also made a play-by-play tape while sitting in the crowd at a Suns' game.

That tape got him a job as a disc jockey and sports announcer at a radio station in Globe, Ariz., population 5,000. From there, it was on to a television station in Yuma, which isn't exactly the big time, either.

"The set was a card table with a mike on it," Roggin said. "The news was done in black and white."

Next stop was Texas, where he first experimented with showing bloopers, then Phoenix and then the big time, Los Angeles.

"I applied for the right jobs at the right time," he said. "I was very lucky."

Of course, talent had a little something to do with it.

Special citation: Best idea of the year belongs to possibly L.A.'s least known sports anchor, Channel 13's Mike Chamberlin.

Early in the year, Chamberlin started his "Sports Star of the Week" segments, which feature unpublicized people nominated by viewers.

The result has been some fascinating stories. The subjects have included a marathon swimmer who is paralyzed from the waist down; a champion surfer who took time out during a competition to save a drowning swimmer; a 45-year-old mother who had her face crushed in a head-on accident but recovered to become a title-winning body builder, and a 20-month-old tot who plays a mean game of T-ball.

The most incredible story, however, was that of Donna Duke, a 55-year-old Camarillo women who has made 21 certified holes in one this year.

At the time Chamberlin taped the story about Duke, she had 17 holes in one this year--and she came within inches of dropping one in the cup for the camera.

Chamberlin, who announces a winner every Monday night, does the pieces with a nice touch. But they are cheapened somewhat when he presents the winners with a T-shirt and cap. Surely, the station could come up with something better.

Chamberlin will announce the year-end winners, male and female, this coming Tuesday during Channel 13's 10 o'clock news. At least the "Sports Stars of the Year" will each get a plaque and a VCR.

Add citations: Worst idea of the year comes from a New York production company, Halcyon Days. During the Christmas shopping season, it attempted to market a one-hour tape costing $29.95 which was entitled: "Best of the USFL."

TV-Radio Notes

Football galore: Beginning Saturday, there will be 14 college bowl games on television during a six-day span that ends next Friday with the Fiesta Bowl. One can watch 11 hours of continuous football on New Year's Day. There were six games scheduled for that day until the Fiesta Bowl was moved to Jan. 2. Now there are only five. . . . In the middle of all this are the NFL playoffs. Sunday, it's Kansas City and the New York Jets on NBC at 9:30 a.m., with Marv Albert and Bob Griese reporting, then the Rams and Washington Redskins on CBS at 1 p.m., with Pat Summerall and John Madden reporting. Things start off Sunday at 9 a.m. with NBC's "NFL '86," with Don Shula joining the regular cast. He'll appear on the show throughout the playoffs. . . . CBS, which will televise "NFL Today" at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, will have New York Giant Coach Bill Parcells as its studio guest. . . . The announcers for the conference semifinals next weekend have been set. CBS will use Dick Stockton and Dan Dierdorf on Saturday and Summerall and Madden on Sunday. The NBC announcers will be Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy on Saturday and Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen on Sunday. . . . CBS has signed announcer Tim Ryan to a new contract. Reportedly, ABC had been trying to lure Ryan.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
53°