NBC's Fred Roggin isn't just a sportscaster anymore.
Beginning this week Roggin is host and executive producer of the nationally syndicated "Roggin's Heroes." The weekly series is billed as Ra fast, funny and slightly irreverent look at the great, the near great and the common people of the world, captured in their most comical moments."
The multiple Emmy Award-winning Roggin joined KNBC in 1980, following stints at stations in Yuma, Ariz., Austin, Tex., and Phoenix. Roggin also serves as an NFL play-by-play announcer for NBC.
Roggin discussed his new show and sportscasting in general with Steven Herbert.
Q. What will we see on "Roggin's Heroes?"
We like to call it real-life comedy. Sports is our vehicle, but our goal is comedy. What we're trying to do is expand the sports audience and involve everybody. It's going to be wacky, zany high jinks. You'll be seeing "Mr. Roggin's Neighborhood," "Freddy's Nightmares," "The Hall of Shame" and "Roggin's Heroes" (all current features of Roggin's KNBC sportscasts). You'll be seeing material from around the world in our international bloopers segment. The best news-it's in color and free of charge.
Q. Is it true that you dropped out of college to go into broadcasting? I dropped out of Phoenix College, a junior college, after six months, to enter the world of radio and become Uncle Fred, playing the hits every night from eight to 12 midnight at KIKO radio in Globe, Ariz. That's where it all began.
Q. So that was your 500-watt radio station in Fresno, Calif.?
It really was. Globe was bordered by the Inspiration Consolidated Copper Company and the San Carlos Indian Reservation. Those were my people.
Q. How did you make the decision to drop out of college? Did you ever have any fears it would not work out?
I was either going to be an attorney, which my folks wanted to be, or I was going to do something where I thought I could make a decent living at, which is talk. I've never been accused of not being able to talk, either loudly or quickly. So I was very interested in basically just getting started in a career, and that's why I jumped into radio.
I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be on television, certainly in Los Angeles, or have my own show like this. I've been lucky. I appreciate what I have. I am a very, very lucky person.
Q. What do you attribute your popularity to?
I was lucky to come along at a time when conceptually the market was ready to change. I was also lucky to come along at a time when Channel 4 was starting to grow into the top station in the market. I was lucky to work for people who promoted me very heavily, which gave the viewers a chance to sample us. If I had not been at this station at the time I was and given the promotion that I was, I don't think it would have turned out this way.
Q. How have you changed since coming to Los Angeles?
When I was hired here, I was hired as a (sports) feature reporter. I thought at very best I was a marginal anchor. But as I grew in the role and was given more responsibility, I became more confident in what I was doing and became a much better anchor than when I started here. I was more relaxed on the air, not as hyper.
Q. Do you ever worry as the novelty of what you do wears off, your popularity could drop and there could be a backlash against you?
In what we do in sports, fundamentally, we're very sound. You get the information, the scores, results. We never pass on reporting a trade to show a guy getting hit in the head with a watermelon. First and foremost we give you the sports.
Nobody stays on top of the mountain forever. No one can live forever. If you think you can, you fool yourself. What you should do is enjoy it for as long as you can, work as hard as you can, and then realize when it's time to get out. We have to get to that next level. We have to push ourselves more. But that day will come. I think we're all aware of that.
Q. Where do you see your career going?
The best part about this project for me is that it's given me a chance to open my production company. That is something I've always wanted to do. My strength is in production. We would like to develop more projects. I personally would like to go more into production.
Q. What are your specific production plans?
Ideally, long-range as far as the production company goes, we wouldn't want to do a lot of sports. We would want to do more entertainment programming. It's already been discussed with us to develop a companion show for "Roggin's Heroes" that could be sold as a bloc. Is my life sports? No. My job is producing television. My assignment is sports. That's important to draw that distinction. That's why we've been able to include more of the audience, because we haven't specifically slotted things just for the sports fan. But the sports fan gets all the information he or she needs.
Q. A study released in August accused you of sexism, that you give little time to covering women's sports using women as fodder for jokes. Do you have any reaction to that study?
As far as the report went, they didn't compare our work to any other station in the market. We didn't believe it to be a fair sampling because of that. During the period of time when it was taken (July 2-Aug. 15, 1989), I was on vacation for most of it. We will compare our reporting and our feature work with anyone not only in this city but in the country. We're proud of our work here. We make no excuses. You can make a survey say anything you want it to say. If it had been a fair sampling, I may have responded differently.
We're not embarrassed or ashamed about our work. We make no apologies for it. I do want you to understand that in no way did we mean to offend women.
"Roggin's Heroes" debuts Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on KNBC.