Soto Stays True to Her Roots

There was a time when a televised high school football game was a rarity. But FSN West and West 2 have been doing them regularly since 1997.

Westlake Village Westlake versus Newhall Hart tonight at 7 on FSN West will be the 100th high school football game to be televised on one of the two regional networks.

And Lindsay Soto has been involved in the coverage during the entire run. She started out in 1997 as a feature reporter for “Inside Cal-Hi Sports.”

Soto was in Seattle last Friday, working as a sideline reporter for West 2’s coverage of Long Beach Poly against Bellevue, Wash. But her main jobs on the high school beat are serving as co-host of the Thursday night “L.A. Times High School Spotlight” show and the Friday night “High School Spotlight Scoreboard” show on West 2.


However, the scoreboard show is not expected to be televised tonight because of the threat of Hurricane Rita in Houston, where the FSN network’s master control is located. All FSN non-event and taped programming probably will be affected.

Soto has become one of the most visible reporters and anchors on FSN West and West 2, and someone of her stature could easily say, “OK, I’m done with high school sports.”

But not Soto, who says, “I love doing high school sports.”

She says she likes seeing high school athletes she has covered go on to star in college and sometimes on the professional level, and likes the fact that covering high school sports keeps one’s reporting skills sharp.


She points out that a reporter on the high school beat has to work hard to find information -- there are no big sports information staffs as there are on the major college level, and no elaborate media guides. And a reporter has to be prepared when doing an interview.

“You can’t just make a statement and get a response,” she said. “You have to think how to phrase the questions because a lot of times the person you are interviewing has never done a television interview before.”

Keeping a Low Profile

Some people in Sam Ryan’s position might have been calling their agent and screaming, “Hey, get the news out. I’m on ‘Monday Night Football.’ ”

But with Ryan, it was the opposite. She told her Los Angeles-based agent, Rick Ramage, to keep it quiet. Ryan, who prefers Sam instead of Samantha, in this case wanted to shy away from the spotlight.

Last week, Ryan, who lives in the New York area, was on her way to Columbus, Ohio, to work as a sideline reporter on an ABC regional telecast of Saturday’s San Diego State-Ohio State game when, at the airport, she got a call informing her she would be going to Dallas instead to join the “Monday Night Football” crew.

Regular sideline reporter Michelle Tafoya, expecting her first child in late October, had decided to take maternity leave earlier than expected.

So Ryan suddenly -- and reluctantly -- was thrust into the high-profile role. There was no official announcement because that’s the way Ryan wanted it.


Ryan, who had to be prodded to talk to a reporter, said, “It’s Michelle’s job. I’m just filling in. She’ll be back as soon as she is ready to come back. The important thing is, Michelle is about to embark on the experience of being a mother.”

Ryan knows firsthand about that. She has a 4-year-old son, Nicklaus -- yes, she is a Jack Nicklaus fan -- and a daughter, Jensen, who was born Dec. 20.

Ryan took time off from her ABC job 10 weeks before Jensen’s birth. Now it is Tafoya’s turn. And the way Ryan looks at it, she is just helping out a friend and colleague.

Short Waves

The Kings’ television schedule this season has FSN West showing 65 games. FSN West, which started out as Prime Ticket, is in its 20th year of televising the Kings. Counting four Mighty Duck home games against the Kings that will be televised by FSN West 2, four games on OLN and two on NBC, 75 of the Kings’ 82 regular-season games are scheduled to be televised locally. ... OLN has named John Davidson as its lead analyst on NHL telecasts.

Because of the threat of Hurricane Rita, NBC made a change in its Presidents Cup coverage from Gainesville, Va., for Saturday. The first hour of the golf, 5 to 6 a.m., will now be on USA so that NBC can cover hurricane developments. ... In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Bobby Jones’ Grand Slam, “The Life and Times of Bobby Jones” will be televised on the Golf Channel on Wednesday at 4:30 and 10 p.m.

“Tee It Up,” a nationally syndicated radio show featuring the father and son team of Al and Adam Gottfried, has become a big success. And now there is a golf radio show, “Golfchix,” featuring three women -- Hall of Famer Amy Alcott, host Susan Hunt and sports marketing maven Linda Giaciolli. It airs Saturdays at 6 a.m. on 570.

NBA TV is televising the four-day European Basketball Championships. Today and Saturday, the coverage begins at 9 a.m. PDT, with Sunday’s final scheduled for 11 a.m.


In Closing

The Angels got a local Nielsen rating of 2.2 Tuesday night, the Dodgers a 0.8. The next night, the Angel rating topped the Dodger rating, 1.8 to 0.7. Channel 9 late last year made an eight-year deal with the Dodgers to begin televising their games in 2006 instead of Angel games. Wonder if that deal came with a money-back guarantee?