Hughes' Thoughts With Troops

As an anchor for Fox Sports Net's "Southern California Sports Report," Carolyn Hughes spends evenings talking about sports scores and highlights, which, in these times, may seem trivial.

But Hughes also spends considerable time -- probably more than most -- thinking about U.S. troops in Iraq.

That's because the military is in her blood.

Hughes, 27, is the daughter of a retired U.S. Army colonel and spent much of her youth living on military bases. Her 30-year-old brother was also an officer during four years of active duty in the Army and is now a reserve who could be called up.

She says she doesn't talk to her father much about the war.

"We have different philosophies," she said. "I would have preferred a peaceful settlement, while he's pretty old school."

Hughes said she was grounded for a week when in seventh grade for wearing a peace sign to school.

"He even has a little trouble with me working in sports," she said.

But Hughes says her father is largely responsible for her love of sports.

"My father would be away a lot during the week and in order to spend time with him on the weekends, it meant watching sports," she said.

Hughes was born in Belchertown, Mass., but moved every three or four years during her childhood. She and her family spent time in such places as West Point, N.Y., a military base in Germany, Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas and Ft. Bliss near El Paso. Although she usually attended schools on military bases, she graduated from a public high school in El Paso.

Hughes returned to Massachusetts to attend Boston College. After graduating in 1997, she came to Los Angeles to work as an assistant to Channel 9 news director Dennis Herzig. And she spent a lot of time hanging around the sports department.

After 1 1/2 years at Channel 9, she spent six months as a production assistant on a Fox Sports Net show, "Goin' Deep." Then she returned to El Paso, going to work for the ABC affiliate there and getting on-camera experience. She started out as a weekend sports anchor and later became co-host of a daily weekday show, "Good Morning El Paso."

Hughes landed her current sports anchoring position last July. She co-anchors "Southern California Sports Report" four nights a week, usually with Van Earl Wright, Barry LeBrock or Michael Eaves, and also is host of "The Paperboys," which features Times columnists Bill Plaschke and J.A. Adande and airs Friday nights.

Those who work with her seem to like and respect her.

"She is very professional," LeBrock said. "Obviously, she adds an element of glamour, but that is not to say there is style without substance. She's the whole package."

Steve Simpson, Hughes' main boss at Fox Sports Net, said, "Carolyn's background of writing and producing and her sports knowledge, plus her on-air experience, work ethic and energetic personality, has made her an excellent addition to our on-air staff."

Big Sports Weekend

What is important about sports during difficult times is that they provide diversions. And there are plenty of diversions this weekend.

Besides the NCAA tournament on CBS, Fox Sports Net has Michael Jordan's final L.A. appearance tonight, the Fox network televises one of NASCAR's biggest races Sunday from Fort Worth, and the Angels begin defense of their World Series championship Sunday evening on ESPN. The 5 p.m. game against Texas at Anaheim will mark the debut of ESPN HD, a high-definition simulcast service.

Fox Sports Net's special one-hour "Laker Live" pregame show tonight at 6:30 will feature the first of a two-part interview Reggie Theus did with Kobe Bryant. In the first part, Bryant talks about comparisons to Jordan. In the second part of the interview, which will air Monday night on "Lakers Live" at 7, Bryant talks about his relationship with Jerry West. West's Memphis Grizzlies play the Lakers at Staples Center that night.

Earlier Monday, at 2 p.m., Fox Sports Net 2 will televise the Dodger season opener from Phoenix, with Hideo Nomo facing Randy Johnson.

On Tuesday night, Fox Sports Net's Angel coverage will include the pregame ring ceremony.

Horse Racing Beat

The richest day in horse racing isn't the Breeder's Cup. It's Saturday's $16-million, six-race Dubai World Cup, which is taking place less than 1,000 miles from Iraq. Thirteen American horses have made the trip. Both TVG and HorseRacing TV will offer coverage, with the last hour of TVG's coverage being carried by Fox Sports Net 2 at 9 a.m. TVG is picking up a feed from British television.... In the category of better late than never, Channel 56 began televising Santa Anita replays on Wednesday. The five-day-a-week replay show airs at 7:30 p.m. The Santa Anita meet ends April 20. The station has a deal to also televise replays from Oak Tree at Santa Anita and from Hollywood Park and Fairplex Park.

Short Waves

Ratings for CBS' NCAA tournament coverage Saturday and Sunday were down 24% from the previous year. CBS Sports president Sean McManus said the network anticipated a 20-25% decline because of news coverage of the war.... Ratings for the women's NCAA tournament were off 21% on ESPN and 31% on ESPN2.... CBS' "The Late, Late Show With Craig Kilborn" will be broadcast from New Orleans all next week leading into the Final Four.... Derek Fisher made a surprise visit to Kilborn's show last week to present him with $15. Kilborn was complaining about having to pay $15 to park at Staples Center. Aside to Kilborn: All media members have to pay $15 to park at Staples.

Hardly a day goes by without an announcement about sporting events being televised in high definition. NBA TV, available on satellite, announced it will televise up to seven playoff games, all in high definition. The network will also televise Sunday's game between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks in high definition.

Unique events: The first Titan Games, a four-ring spectacle featuring selected Olympic sports and taped at San Jose, will be televised on ESPN2 Saturday at noon and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.... The World Poker Tour makes its debut on the Travel Channel Sunday at 7 p.m., with 12 shows to follow on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

Radio Daze

KSPN (710) had its highest showing in the most recent Arbitron ratings. The station earned an 0.4 share among persons 12-plus. XTRA (690, 1150) combined earned an 0.7.... KSPN's radio coverage of Sunday's Angel opener will begin at 1 p.m. with a special edition of "McDonnell Douglas." ... Spanish broadcasts of Angel games, with the announcing team of Ivan Lara and Jose Mota, will be heard on XKAM (950), a 10,000-watt station in Coronado.... Another Spanish-language team that is drawing rave reviews from the Latino community is the Lakers' Fernando Gonzalez, now in his seventh season, and Jose "Pepe" Mantilla, who is in his 10th season. Their broadcasts are carried by KWKW (1330).

In Closing

KSPN's Joe McDonnell, known as the "Big Nasty," has made an interesting wager. He says he'll donate $500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation if he says anything negative during the three hours of the "McDonnell Douglas" show on April 4. Partner Doug Krikorian says the over-under on how long McDonnell can go without saying anything negative is 10 minutes.

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