Harris Story Tailor-Made for Talk Radio

The Laker players supposedly had voted, 12-0, to seek the ouster of Coach Del Harris.

But all parties have denied the report.

How do such things get started?

Exactly how this one got started is somewhat of a mystery, but here's what we know:

According to John Terenzio, senior vice president and executive producer of Fox Sports News, a source called Tuesday night saying the vote had taken place. Because the report could not be confirmed in time to be used on the air, Fox Sports News--wisely--decided not to use it.

The next day, Fox Sports News anchor Kevin Frazier, who has been a fill-in host on Jim Rome's nationally syndicated radio show in the past, called Rome's show and reported the rumored vote.

Also, Rome, who has said he doesn't think Harris should be fired, had found a New York Daily News column item on the Internet that said Harris was about to be fired.

So that--on top of Frazier's report--was enough for Rome to go with it.

One problem, though. It wasn't true.

"At no time did we report the vote on any of our news shows," Terenzio said. "We only reported the denials."

But the damage had already been done.

A report that did not meet standards to get on a reputable television news show, of course, can get on talk radio. That's because talk radio has it's own standards.

On Thursday's show, Rome, who once got into trouble calling quarterback Jim Everett "Chrissy," was calling U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno a man. In reporting Reno's stance against gambling on the Internet, Rome several times called her Jonathan or John.

Only on talk radio.

ANOTHER GARRETT MISTAKE?

According to a Times story in Thursday's editions, Mike Garrett has made some mistakes during his reign as athletic director at USC. And he's about to make another.

In a deal with XTRA 690 announced this week, USC will take control of its football and basketball radio broadcasts. Word is, Garrett wants to dump football announcers Larry Kahn and Mike Lamb, who have poured everything they have into the job the last three years.

They sold all the advertising, went to practice every day and did an honest, credible job on the broadcasts.

They weren't housemen, but no one wanted USC football to succeed more than these two.

USC isn't going to find anyone better.

Kahn said Garrett told him in 1996 that he didn't like Lamb, even though that was the year Lamb was named L.A.'s best radio commentator by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Assn.

"I told Mike there is no better football commentator than Mike Lamb, and I meant that," Kahn said. "Mike told me, 'I don't care if he's the next Vin Scully, I don't like him.' "

Garrett looked into the possibility of simulcasting Fox Sports West announcers Tom Kelly and Craig Fertig on XTRA but found out that's a bad idea. For one thing, Fox Sports West's vice president of production, Gary Garcia, said it's not possible to do a simulcast on delayed football telecasts.

Besides, simply putting Kelly on the radio broadcasts isn't going to restore the glory days of the '70s and '80s. It's going to take a lot more than that.

A BOON FOR THE GOLF CHANNEL

The Greater Austin Open was just another stop on the Nike Tour, but now that it is Casey Martin's first tournament since winning his lawsuit against the PGA Tour, it has become a major event. More than 170 reporters are there to cover it. And the Golf Channel is televising it.

The Golf Channel will have one camera that records Martin's every move.

This may be just what the Golf Channel needs to move out of the niche channel category and into the major leagues.

The Golf Channel celebrated its third anniversary Jan. 17. It reaches 700,000 cable households in Southern California and 14 million nationally.

It's a great channel with high production values and informative and interesting programming. And now Martin is putting it on the map.

NEW LOOK FOR TOURNAMENT

CBS has made some changes that should benefit viewers during the NCAA tournament, which begins next Thursday.

Greg Gumbel has replaced Pat O'Brien as studio host and Gumbel will be joined by new analyst Dean Smith.

But more important, new executive producer Terry Ewert promises more judicious cuts from one game to another and says those irritating four-screen splits will be eliminated.

With Gumbel in the studio from the outset, Jim Nantz will be free to call the first round with Billy Packer.

Championship week ends Sunday with the tournament selection show on both ESPN and CBS at 3:30 p.m. But instead of showing all four brackets at the open of the show, CBS will show one at a time, making fans and teams wait to keep the audience from switching to ESPN.

SHORT WAVES

Recommended viewing: CBS' "60 Minutes," which on the closing day of the Winter Olympics exposed the corruption within the IOC in selecting Olympic sites, this week takes on Jerry Tarkanian and his Fresno State basketball program. Several Fresno State starters are convicted felons. "We don't condone that [kind of behavior], but we believe everyone deserves a second or third chance," Tarkanian tells "60 Minutes." The Tarkanian story will be the third segment Sunday night. . . . Baseball legend Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on his way to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1972, is profiled in an excellent documentary, "Clemente," on Fox Sports West Sunday at 9 p.m. It was made by Black Canyon Productions, which also did the the critically acclaimed HBO documentary "When It Was a Game."

ESPN's "NFL Countdown" is being expanded next season to two hours. A couple of newcomers might be added, and one candidate is ESPN and XTRA newcomer Sean Salisbury, who also has been promised an audition with CBS for an NFL commentating spot. . . . Saturday afternoon's UCLA-Arizona game is a Fox Sports Net game that will be carried locally by Fox Sports West. Barry Tompkins and George Raveling call the action. . . . Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap will be shown on Fox Sports West, delayed, at 5:30 p.m. The race is scheduled to go off at 4:15. The on-air talent for the half-hour telecast will be Santa Anita regulars Kurt Hoover, Carolyn Conley and Jeff Siegel.

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What Los Angeles Is Watching

A sampling of L.A. Nielsen ratings for Feb. 27-28

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SATURDAY Event Ch. Rating Share Figure Skating: Golden Gala Championship 4 9.8 17 College Basketball: North Carolina at Duke 7 2.8 9 Golf: Nissan Open 2 2.6 8 College Basketball: Stanford at Arizona 2 1.7 5 College Basketball: Notre Dame at Providence 4 1.2 4 College Basketball: USC at Washington State 7 1.1 3 SUNDAY Pro Basketball: Lakers at New York 4 8.5 24 Golf: Nissan Open 2 6.8 18 Pro Basketball: Utah at Houston 4 4.0 11 College Basketball: UCLA at Washington 2 2.1 6 Exhibition Baseball: Atlanta vs. Dodgers 5 2.1 6 Auto Racing: NASCAR Winston Cup Las Vegas 400 7 1.9 5 College Basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma State 7 1.4 4 College Basketball: Georgetown at Syracuse 2 1.3 4

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Note: Each rating point represents 50,092 L.A. households.

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