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KMPC Sale Reflects Badly on L.A.

It will not be a happy new year around KMPC.

Employees of the all-sports radio station learned in a two-page memo Thursday of an agreement to sell the station to Cap Cities and that an expected format change could mean most of them will lose their jobs within the next month or two.

A lot of good, hard-working people--the producers and behind-the-scenes workers as well as the on-air talent--have given their all to try to save the all-sports station.

Factors that contributed to the downfall:

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--The sports drought. It has been a bad period for sports in Los Angeles. The Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Rams and Raiders did little to help get KMPC off and rolling. Their struggles created a general apathy toward sports.

--The economy. All advertising-supported businesses such as KMPC have been hit hard.

--The market. Angelenos are generally not sports fanatics who support the local teams no matter what. This is a transient area, and people moving here from the East, Midwest or wherever continue to root for teams from back home. Just check out how many Denver Bronco fans will be at the Coliseum on Sunday, or how many Chicago Bear fans will be at Anaheim Stadium.

--Changing lineups. The station took a while to find a nice fit, and also changed program directors in midstream. Although the sound has improved lately, it’s a case of too little too late.

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No one in the sports business in Los Angeles should be rejoicing over the failure of KMPC, not even San Diego-based rival XTRA.

KMPC’s failure is a black eye for sports in Los Angeles.

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Speaking of black eyes, here’s one for sports-talk radio:

A listener named Sal called XTRA’s Lee Hamilton Tuesday evening, trying to make a point that the Raiders were having a better season than Hamilton’s beloved Chargers.

Sal got a bit obnoxious, and suddenly, Hamilton, who is known for fits of temper, said to Sal:

“You’re a Raider fan so you probably carry a gun. Take that gun, put it in your mouth and pull the trigger.”

Hamilton is a veteran broadcaster who actually is one of the more professional sports-talk hosts. He should know better. But he is also the same announcer who called a San Diego media critic a “faggot.”

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Progam director Howard Freedman, not excusing Hamilton, said what listeners didn’t hear Tuesday was Sal first cursing out Hamilton. Hamilton hit the mute button.

“It wasn’t quite as bad as it sounded--Lee just suddenly going off--but it was pretty bad,” Freedman said.

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This is a recording: There are too many football games on New Year’s Day.

How many times does it have to be written? How many times does it have to be said?

For the college football season to end with eight bowl games on one day is ridiculous.

Making matters worse, there are now four bowl games today--plus an NFL game. CBS will televise the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins at noon.

You’d think the sponsors would put their collective feet down. Who’s going to watch a commercial on New Year’s Day when you can zap to another game at any time?

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Name game: Speaking of sponsors, they contribute to a distasteful conclusion to the college season by attaching their names to the bowls.

We now have the Outback Steakhouse Gator Bowl on TBS today at 4 p.m. That’s the official name. Really.

Some others:

The IBM/OS 2 Fiesta Bowl, the Mobil Cotton Bowl and the Federal Express Orange Bowl on NBC, the ever-popular Carquest Bowl on CBS, and the CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl and the USF&G; Insurance Sugar Bowl on ABC.

The one bowl that has retained purity is the Rose Bowl. Thank goodness for that.

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Order, please: A playoff system may or may not be the answer, but it has to be an improvement over the current system. There has to be some semblance of order.

NBC’s Bob Trumpy, who will work the Orange Bowl with Dick Enberg, says the bowl coalition is a step in the right direction.

“We’ll never have a perfect system unless all the teams played each other, and that’s not going to happen,” Trumpy said.

“At least the coalition has determined which teams should play for the national championship. It has taken the opinions out of that. But we still could end up having an undefeated team that is not the national champion.”

Said Enberg: “There’s no question that all the games have diluted the importance of the day. I can remember when there were two or three games on New Year’s Day.

“But I’m not sure a playoff system is the answer. The bowls generate a lot of money for the schools, and you don’t want to get rid of that.

“Also, I’m old-fashioned and wouldn’t like to see the season dragged out any further. I think, come Jan. 2, whoever ends up as the national champion, it will be satisfactory to most everyone.”

Said Trumpy: “I don’t want to see the season dragged out much more, either, but I think one more game after the bowls might be the way to go.”

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Move over, NFL: It’s generally presumed that John Madden will end up as a football commentator for Fox, ABC or NBC, but there is a plan in the works to keep Madden and his other football colleagues at CBS.

Sources say CBS is looking into the possibility of helping form a new pro football league to televise.

If a new league is formed, Madden, Pat Summerall, Terry Bradshaw, Greg Gumbel, Verne Lundquist, Dan Fouts, et al. would give it needed credibility.

TV-Radio Notes

After hearing of Fox’s $1.58-billion deal with the NFL, news anchorman John Beard, who recently took a pay cut to go from Channel 4 to Fox-owned Channel 11, said: “If I had known Fox had that much money I would have held out for more.” It’s said that Beard accepted a salary of about half of the $955,000 a year he was making at Channel 4. . . . XTRA’s Chet Forte, former director of “Monday Night Football,” before going on vacation, was singing his own praises as well as the Fox network’s so much that a caller asked: “Have you sent in your resume yet? You have sure been auditioning.” Said Forte: “Was it that obvious?” . . . XTRA program director Howard Freedman, although admitting there was a heated discussion with “Loose Cannons” Forte and Steve Hartman, said the two will be back at their regular morning slot after they return from vacation on Jan. 10. Steve Mason and Rick Schwartz have been doing a nice job filling in, but their “Too Much Show” will go back to nights. Asked about rumors of those two being switched permanently to early mornings, Freedman said: “That’s only a rumor.”

Mystery solved: Does Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne ever smile? KMPC’s Charlie Tuna, a Nebraska native, asked that question of Frank Solich, the Cornhuskers’ assistant head coach, after reading a feature on that topic in Tuesday’s Times. Said Solich: “In the coaches’ meetings, he’s got a great sense of humor. He smiles all the time.” . . . Damon Hack, Joe McDonnell’s producer at KMPC, showed some hustle in getting Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz to do an interview on Wednesday. . . . KMPC’s respected executive producer, Todd Fritz, has left the station to become a writer and producer for Roy Firestone’s popular “Up Close” show on ESPN. . . . Former Clipper assistant coach Mack Calvin is now doing a weekend show with Geoff Witcher for KMPC.

Alternate programming: Looking for something to watch on New Year’s Day besides football? ESPN will air 3 1/2 hours of its critically acclaimed “Amazing Games” series from 4:30 to 8 p.m. There will be such sports as elephant soccer from Thailand, Balinese sword fighting from Indonesia, camel wrestling from Turkey and Florentine football from Italy. Florentine football has one rule: Don’t kick an unconscious opponent. Raider radio commentator Bob Chandler is the host of the series.

KFWB’s Randy Kerdoon will report the sports news on Channel 11 this weekend. Now if he’ll just leave his Ram jersey at home and keep the amateurish antics to a minimum. . . . Barry Bonds will make his television acting debut Sunday night when he appears as himself in the CBS movie “Jane’s House,” starring James Woods and Anne Archer. . . . Nebraska has lost its last six bowl games, including three to Florida State and two to Miami, and is a 17 1/2-point Orange Bowl underdog. Says NBC’s Bob Trumpy: “The state of Florida simply has better athletes than the state of Nebraska.” . . . Osborne and his Orange Bowl counterpart, Bobby Bowden, will be interviewed by Craig Sager during halftime of tonight’s Gator Bowl on TBS. . . . Sign of the times: On the same day ESPN announced its major league baseball schedule, CBS announced its golf schedule.


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