Bruno’s Return Could Be KMPC’s Ticket to Success

Tony Bruno is returning to L.A. sports talk radio. Beginning April 4, he’ll be the host of the morning show on KMPC (1540).

Mark Willard, who took over when Roger Lodge left the station in a salary dispute two months ago, will be Bruno’s co-host.

The plan is to begin syndicating Bruno’s show on the Sporting News radio network in three to four months.

Bruno, whose syndicated Fox Sports radio network morning show was heard in L.A. on XTRA Sports, left that job in August.

As for the reason he left, Bruno said, “They wanted to cut my pay.”


He was replaced by Van Earl Wright.

Bruno said he has had other job offers over the last six months, but he wanted to stay in Los Angeles.

He said with KMPC in the process of beefing up its signal, he believes the station is making a commitment to compete in L.A. sports talk wars.

KMPC, which bills itself as “The Ticket,” has never even shown up in an Arbitron ratings book, despite having USC football. The station has always been a distant third behind L.A.'s two other sports talk stations -- Clear Channel’s XTRA Sports (570) and ESPN’s KSPN (710).

XTRA Sports switched its lineup from 690 and 1150 to KLAC’s 570 signal on Feb. 3. Officially, the call letters are still KLAC, but the station bills itself as XTRA Sports.

“The feeling has always been that KMPC was the sports station that wouldn’t survive,” Bruno said. “I think XTRA might be the station that doesn’t survive.”

Asked to respond, Don Martin, XTRA’s general manager, simply said, “Tony is a friend and I wish him the best. I was one of the first to call him and congratulate him on the new job.”


The Hole Picture

NCAA basketball dominates the weekend fare, but golf is also prominent.

The Players Championship at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., will be on ESPN today and on Channel 4 on Saturday and Sunday. The first LPGA major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, will be on ESPN2 today and on Channel 7 on Saturday and Sunday.

A highlight of Channel 4’s Players Championship coverage will be the use of a camera mounted on a cable at Sawgrass’ fabled 17th hole, a short par-three with an island green. “Cablecam,” developed by ESPN producer Mo Davenport, will be one of 12 cameras used at the 17th hole. Another is a bunker camera.

“We’ve seen about everything there,” NBC producer Tommy Roy said, “but you’re going to see it from a new angle with ‘cablecam.’ ”

Today, as was the case Thursday, the golf coverage on ESPN Classic will be exclusively the 17th hole, a true classic.

“It’s the greatest short par-three in the world,” NBC’s Johnny Miller said. “It haunts you.”

So does the whole course.

“It gives you the heebie-jeebies,” Miller said.


A Plus? U Bet

ESPNU, the new channel devoted to college sports, televised 14 games during the first two rounds of the women’s NCAA tournament, including Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt’s record-setting 880th victory.

ESPN announced Thursday that, with the addition of ESPNU, it will televise at least 44 college baseball and softball games in April and May. UCLA will have six softball games televised -- one on ESPN, two on ESPN2 and three on ESPNU.

Also, beginning tonight, ESPNU will televise all NCAA hockey tournament games leading up to the Frozen Four, which will be shown on ESPN and ESPN2.

ESPNU is available only on DirecTV and Adelphia digital cable.


Short Waves

FSN West announced Thursday it will televise 102 regular-season Angel games, which is 52 more than previously announced and 21 more than it showed last season. Channel 9 will televise 49 regular-season Angel games.... The Dodgers finally got around to announcing their television schedule late Thursday. It’s official: As reported earlier, FSN West 2 will televise 125 games and Channel 13 will carry only 25.

More than 1 million households were tuned in March 17 to the Congressional hearings on steroids, an impressive number for a Thursday afternoon. Fox News’ coverage was watched in 624,000 homes, CNN’s in 526,000 and ESPNews in 166,000, according to Nielsen Media Research. C-Span, which also aired the hearings, does not record ratings.

CBS reports it is averaging a 5.6 rating for the first two rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, up 2% from a year ago.... Fox reports its NASCAR ratings are up 11%, going from a 6.1 last year to a 6.6 this year.... Last Saturday’s Erik Morales-Manny Pacquiao fight, which will be replayed by HBO as part of Saturday night’s boxing show featuring Fernando Vargas vs. Raymond Joval, attracted about 350,000 pay-per-view buys.

The $6-million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race, will be televised live at 9 a.m. Saturday by TVG and simulcast on FSN West 2. TVG’s pre-race coverage, which includes a number of other high-priced races, begins at 5:30 a.m.... A new pro wrestling league makes its debut on PAX television Sunday at 1 p.m. But don’t expect any Vince McMahon-type antics. Real Pro Wrestling features Olympic and NCAA wrestling champions. The eight Sunday matches will be reshown on FSN West Wednesdays at 3 p.m.

Recommended viewing: In a documentary titled “Perfect Upset,” airing Monday at 9 p.m., HBO revisits Villanova’s upset of Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA men’s championship game.... On Spike TV Wednesday at 10 p.m. will be a special titled “The Sports Illustrated 20 Greatest College Basketball Players Ever.”