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If They Love L.A., They Have a Funny Way of Showing It

January 07, 1994|LARRY STEWART

Is Los Angeles in a sports slump or what?

The Raiders failed to sell out Sunday's playoff game against the Denver Broncos before the deadline for lifting the television blackout.

The Raiders had to ask for an extension until 1 p.m. Saturday, since nearly 14,000 tickets remained unsold at Thursday's 1 p.m. deadline.

A playoff sellout in any other NFL city is a given. But not in Los Angeles. A first-round playoff game between the Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers at the Coliseum in 1983 didn't sell out and wasn't televised locally. It could happen again.

In this market, one in which the other NFL team is threatening to move, anything is possible.


Add slump: Not only did Wisconsin fans vastly outnumber UCLA fans at the Rose Bowl, the television rating in Milwaukee was more than double the rating in Los Angeles, 48.1 to 20.8.

That's pretty impressive, particularly when you consider that it seemed like everyone in Wisconsin had come to Pasadena.

The joke making the rounds was: Did they tell the last person out of the state to turn out the light?

The one team Los Angeles could get behind, UCLA's unbeaten and No. 6-ranked basketball team, opened its conference schedule Thursday night against Oregon, but the game wasn't televised live. It will be shown on Prime Ticket today at 5 p.m.

Prime Ticket, which had the Mighty Ducks on at 5:30, chose to show another Pacific 10 Conference game, Washington State at California, delayed at 10:30 p.m. because, a spokesman said, it figured to be more competitive than UCLA-Oregon.

At least both USC and UCLA will be on live television Saturday--the Trojans against Oregon at 11 a.m. on Prime Ticket and the Bruins against Oregon State at 1 p.m. on Channel 5.


Is it any wonder an all-sports radio station didn't make it in Los Angeles? You can blame KMPC's failure on a lot of things, but No. 1 has to be the state of sports in an area that used to bill itself as the country's sports capital.

Latest word is that KMPC will be switching formats soon.

George Green, the general manager of Capital Cities-owned KABC radio, will also become the general manager of KMPC when the sale to Cap Cities goes through.

"In two or three weeks, I should be able to talk about our plans, and we should have a lot to talk about," he said. "But until the attorneys complete all the paperwork, I really can't say anything."

Bill Ward, current general manager of KMPC and sister station K-LITE, will retain the position at K-LITE. He also declined comment until the sale goes through. He said it could be within a week or two.


Is it true? Word is that Charlie Tuna may be the only on-air person retained by Cap Cities after the sale of KMPC, which means that Jim Healy, a radio institution in Los Angeles, may be out.

"I haven't heard from anyone from Cap Cities or KMPC management," Healy said. "It would be silly for me to guess what will happen.

"I have a firm contract with KMPC that calls for me to do a nightly sportscast from 5:30 to 6 p.m. I fully intend to honor it."


Too little, too late: Wouldn't you know it? Now that KMPC is all but sold, the station's ratings took a big jump in December.

According to the latest Arbitron figures, the share for men 18-plus went from 0.6 in October to 1.2 in November to 2.3 in December. The rise in the main category, all people 12 and over, the monthly shares rose from 0.4 to 0.6 to 1.2.

Program director Scott O'Neil said he could not confirm the exact numbers, but did say they doubled from November to December.


A wrist slapping: If a newspaper reporter were to write something close to what XTRA's Lee Hamilton said on the air last week and it somehow got in the paper, the reporter as well as his or her editor probably would be fired, or at least suspended.

As reported in this column last week, Hamilton told a caller named Sal: "You're a Raider fan so you probably carry a gun. Take that gun, put it in your mouth and pull the trigger."

Hamilton did get a slap on the wrist--a $250 fine from station management--but that's all. Actually, that's more than might be expected, considering the loose standards of sports-talk radio.

Hamilton tried to justify the tirade to program director Howard Freedman by saying that Sal cursed him, forcing him to hit the mute button.

But Sal, after reading that excuse in this column, called to say that he had not cursed Hamilton.

"All I said to him, after he asked if I was a Raider fan, was: 'Darn right I am,' " Sal said.

Sal identified himself as Salvador Garcia, 16, of Van Nuys, a student at Birmingham High.

Told Sal was a 16-year-old, Hamilton said: "I don't care what age he is."

He also said he saw no reason to apologize.

Told Sal denied cursing him, Hamilton said: "I can't remember who said what. There were four or five callers during a stretch there who were Raider fans and it seemed they were all abusive. I just got tired of it."

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