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Don’t Blink: A Few More Broadcasters Might Change Jobs

This game they’re playing along network row could be called Follow the Bouncing Broadcasters.

Brent Musburger goes from CBS to ABC. On college football, he will work with Dick Vermeil, who used to be at CBS.

Pat Haden, meanwhile, leaves CBS to hook up with Turner.

Will McDonough goes from CBS to NBC, leaving Irv Cross as the last longtime member of “NFL Today.” Who would ever have thought that?

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Dick Butkus, the most recent addition to “NFL Today,” is rumored to be on the way out. Cross may be gone, too, possibly switched to a game commentator’s role. CBS is talking about bringing Terry Bradshaw into the studio, joining Jim Nantz and/or Greg Gumbel.

Kathleen Sullivan’s name has been mentioned as a possible addition. Hey, maybe Phyllis George will come back.

Whatever their purpose, the networks are keeping things interesting.

Latest development: NBC Thursday named the play-by-play announcers for its NBA coverage next season, and there were no big surprises. Marv Albert and Bob Costas will split the duties.

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They will alternate on the NBA finals. It will be Costas doing play-by-play next season, with Albert serving as host of the telecasts. They will switch jobs the following season.

“It’s an exact split, right down the middle,” Costas said. “I wouldn’t have felt right unless Marv were asked on an equal basis. Neither one of us is interested in one-upsmanship.”

Albert has been an announcer for the New York Knicks since 1969, and Costas’ first job out of college was radio play-by-play announcer for the Spirit of St. Louis in the American Basketball Assn. Costas also announced University of Missouri basketball for five years.

Jim McKay is one announcer who isn’t going anywhere, at least not for a while.

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The longtime ABC employee is in Louisville for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, the 16th he will work.

Some expected him to retire after the 1984 Olympic Games, but McKay just keeps plugging along, and last week he won a lifetime achievement Emmy, the first presented in sports.

It was a deserving award, going to an old pro who is truly one of the nicest guys in the business.

“It was a tremendous honor,” McKay said, “and a total surprise.”

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Now they will have to come up with something else when McKay, who will be 69 in September, retires--if he ever does.

“I’m going to be around for a few more years at least,” he said. “I’m having too much fun. There isn’t any place in the world I’d rather be Saturday than right here in Louisville.”

He said the Derby, of all the sports events he covers, is his favorite.

“When my wife, in her kind and subtle way, tells me, ‘It’s time to go. You’re just not as good as you used to be,’ then I guess I’ll retire,” McKay said. “But she hasn’t told me that yet.”

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ABC’s 90-minute Derby coverage begins at 1:30 p.m., PDT, and McKay has written a piece on the winners’ circle that he will present as the opening.

“When you do 16 of these, it’s hard to come up with something different,” he said.

But McKay managed to do it.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize the winners’ circle for the Derby is used only for that race,” he said. “The other 364 days a year, it’s just a part of the infield at Churchill Downs. But on the first Saturday of May, it’s the most sought-after piece of real estate in the United States.”

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So, who does McKay think will end up there Saturday?

“My brain tells me Mister Frisky, particularly since he drew the fifth post position,” he said. “And what a marvelous story it will be if Mister Frisky does wins it.”

McKay, who said Summer Squall’s 14th post position hurts, also likes Land Rush and Unbridled.

McKay has a new radio show, “The Thoroughbred Connection,” in which he offers racing vignettes.

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The show, syndicated by Tribune Radio Networks, began in mid-April and has been well received throughout the country. But so far it hasn’t been picked up by a Los Angeles station.

On Sunday, the day after ABC and ESPN cover horses running in Louisville, Channel 4 will cover humans running in Long Beach.

KNBC is going all out for the Long Beach Marathon. The station will go on the air at 7 a.m., showing the 7:25 start, then have nine 7 1/2-minute updates and full coverage of the finish.

Fred Roggin will be the host for the coverage, with Frank Shorter and Nancy Ditz supplying commentary. Also, weatherman Fritz Coleman and reporters Doug Kriegal and Patrick Healy will be involved.

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Free-lance producer Phil Olsman, who has produced all five Los Angeles Marathons for Channel 13, will oversee Channel 4’s coverage, with Sandy Nahan serving as executive producer.

One reason for Channel 4’s involvement is that the Long Beach course will be the site of the 1992 Olympic women’s marathon trials, and NBC has the rights to the Games in Barcelona, Spain.

Also, Roggin said: “We want to show that we are involved in the community.”

Rating game: The Channel 9 telecast of Game 3 of the Laker-Houston Rocket series got a 13 Nielsen rating, smashing the competition. The second-highest-rated program opposite the game was “Jeopardy” on Channel 2, which got a 9.5.

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The Kings also seemed to be steadily moving up as a television attraction. Their 4-3 double-overtime victory that eliminated Calgary got an 11.4 cable rating on Prime Ticket. That translates to a 5.7 for all television households, which is comparable to a rating for a good regular-season Laker game.

TV-Radio Notes

The one-on-one basketball event planned for June 25 in Atlantic City, N.J., is being promoted by Mike Trainer, who is Sugar Ray Leonard’s lawyer. Rick Kulis’ Event Entertainment is distributing the pay-per-view telecast. Kulis was formerly with Choice Entertainment. The field for the event includes Bo Kimble of Loyola Marymount, Lionel Simmons of La Salle, Derrick Coleman of Syracuse, Gary Payton of Oregon State and Chris Jackson of Louisiana State. Three more players will be named next week.

Forum fights televised by Prime Ticket will also go out to other regional services that make up the Prime Network, which reaches more than 18 million homes. Monday night, Raul Perez will face Gerardo Martinez for the World Boxing Council bantamweight title. . . . SportsChannel has been running into a lot of programming problems by piggybacking hockey playoffs and Dodger and Angel telecasts. Often, hockey telecasts must be delayed, and sometimes, the end of hockey telecasts are missed. The service has an ad that says “SportsChannel, without it you’re missing half the game.” Well, sometimes with it you’re still missing half the game.

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Recommended viewing: A videotape, “The Golden Decade of Baseball,” produced by Norman Baer, the producer of CBS Radio’s “Game of the Week,” and narrated by Brent Musburger, will be released next week. It covers the decade from 1947 to ’57, and for baseball buffs, it’s a gem. There are two parts, with each part costing $14.95.

Former Channel 9 sportscaster Scott St. James is involved in two movie projects with director-stuntman Hal Needham (“Cannonball Run,” “Smokey and the Bandit”). One is “Bimbo,” a Rambo spoof, and the other is “LURPS,” an action film. St. James will help produce and act in the movies.

The Orange County Sports Assn. has announced that NBC will televise the Aug. 26 Disneyland Pigskin game, pitting Colorado against Tennessee at Anaheim Stadium. . . . ESPN has announced that it has a five-year agreement with Anheuser-Busch calling for more than $100 million of advertising. It’s the third consecutive five-year agreement between the two companies. The first agreement, in 1979, was for one year and $1.4 million in advertising, and ESPN probably would not have survived without it.


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