Tom Kelly has been announcing USC football games on either radio or television since 1961. But it appears his 29-year streak is about to end.
Kelly, who a year ago left KNX to become Prime Ticket's USC announcer, is scheduled to move over to the cable network's Pacific 10 Conference game of the week, with Barry Tompkins taking over USC.
Tompkins was supposed to have handled the Pac-10 game, but his contract with ESPN does not permit him to do national telecasts. The Pac-10 game of the week is considered national because it is carried by Prime Ticket and the 15 other outlets that make up the Prime Network and reach 25 million homes throughout the nation.
The USC telecasts, mostly delayed, are carried only by Prime Ticket and are considered local. Prime Ticket reaches 4.1 million homes in four states.
Ed (Superfan) Bieler read a brilliant essay on his KABC radio program Monday. It was by a Pennsylvania high school student, Hugh Gallagher, who won a writing contest.
The essay, reprinted by Harper's magazine, was a satirical answer to this question, which appeared on a college entrance questionnaire: "Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realized, that have helped define you as a person?"
Gallagher's eight-paragraph answer was laced with unbelievable accomplishments.
Bieler opened his piece by saying: "Recently, I cut an audition tape for a national cable-TV company. After I was finished, I was presented with an application that asked the following . . . " He then read the same question, followed by Gallagher's essay. He changed only the ending.
Gallagher's ending: "But I have not yet gone to college."
Bieler's: "But I have not yet determined exactly where the San Antonio River flows."
KABC listener Bill Ryan, who read the essay in Harper's, called The Times to point out the similarity, and said Bieler did not give credit to the author.
Riverside Press-Enterprise sports columnist Pete Danko, who also had read the essay and heard Bieler's version, Wednesday accused Bieler of "borrowing" the material.
Danko quoted Bieler as saying it was a taped piece and that the attribution might have been cut off accidentally.
On Thursday, Bieler said the attribution was definitely cut off, and he opened his Tuesday show with a full explanation.
"It's a big to-do about nothing," Bieler said.
Add Superfan: The last thing he needs these days is controversy. There are rumors that his KABC contract, which expires in a couple of months, will not be renewed.
A call to George Green, KABC's general manager, got this reply: "I'm not answering any questions about Superfan. There's nothing to report. When there is, we'll let you know."
Asked about the rumors, Green said: "They've been created by the media. They're all horse . . . "
As for a poor showing in the Arbitron ratings, Green said: "It's not Ed, it's the whole station. These are struggling times for AM radio."
Said Bieler: "As far as I'm concerned, I'm not going anywhere. I don't understand how I attract all these rumors. I don't claim to be the best in the world, but I work hard and try to get along with everybody. It amazes me."
Last add Superfan: Lee Hamilton of San Diego's XTRA is often mentioned as a possible replacement for Superfan.
"I've had talks in the past with KABC," Hamilton said, "but I really can't do anything until after the NFL season."
Hamilton, besides serving as host of a nightly talk show, is the voice of the San Diego Chargers.
"After the NFL season, I'll explore the possibilities in the L.A. market," he said. "I believe I've gained respect for what I've done. It may be my time to look at L.A."
Sentenced again: In 1983, former Los Angeles and San Diego sportscaster Eddie Alexander was convicted of fraud after bilking investors of $1.6 million in an effort to support San Diego business ventures.
He served a little more than one year of a two-year sentence but remained on probation. Recently, he was sentenced to another five years for violating that probation.
His troubles this time stemmed from charges that he defrauded investors in his San Francisco television show, "One on One," telling them it would be syndicated to 117 stations, and that several major sponsors were behind it. Investors reportedly lost about $200,000.
If Joe Torre, Channel 5 and SportsChannel Angel announcer, ends up as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Johnny Bench is the leading candidate to replace him, at least on Channel 5, according to several sources.
Bench, who owns a home in Rancho Mirage, apparently would like to make Southern California his permanent base.
Bench, a TV announcer for the Cincinnati Reds, was on a mini-vacation before joining the Reds in San Francisco today and could not be reached.
Recommended viewing: NBC offers another segment in its outstanding "Greatest Fights Ever" series Saturday at 1 p.m.: the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight, held at Madison Square Garden in 1971.