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INSIDE TRACK | TV-RADIO / LARRY STEWART

Cunningham Will Show How Handy He Is on TNT

August 23, 1996|LARRY STEWART

Randall Cunningham might have just blown his cover, now that his mug will be on national television every week during the first half of the NFL season. Cunningham certainly was on television a lot during his 11 seasons as a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was usually shown wearing a helmet. His face, though, is going to become more recognizable.

Turner Broadcasting announced Thursday that it has hired Cunningham to work as a analyst on TNT's "Pro Football Tonight" program that wraps around its Sunday night NFL games.

Cunningham makes his TNT debut Sunday at 5 p.m. on a special two-hour NFL preview edition of "Pro Football Tonight."

For the last few years, besides playing with the Eagles, Cunningham has worked in the granite, marble and tile business in Las Vegas. The company he works for, Custom Marble and Granite Accessories (CMGA), is owned by Cunningham's wife, Felicity. "She's the boss," Cunningham said.

Felicity runs the office while Cunningham's aunt looks after 7-month-old Randall Jr. Cunningham is usually out at a residence or business installing a new kitchen counter top or floor.

"I'm not the type of person who shows up at someone's house to take measurements and says, 'Hi, I'm Randall Cunningham,' " he said. "People usually find out who I am when they call someone else to get a reference, and the person will ask them, 'Hey, do you know who that guy is?' But if they don't find out, I don't tell them."

So why does Cunningham, who made millions playing pro football, have a job doing manual labor?

"I enjoy it," he said. "I like satisfying people, whether by making an outstanding play or by making their kitchen look better."

He also enjoys cutting the marble or granite.

"He's a very artistic person," said Harvey Hyde, his college coach at Nevada Las Vegas. "I remember lining up a summer job for him with an advertising company, and he really liked designing ads."

Hyde, who lives in Arcadia but does a sports-talk show for Las Vegas radio station KDWN, said, "I think Randall has been misread and misunderstood, and this new job with TNT is going to give people a chance to get to know the real Randall Cunningham, who is a terrific human being."

Cunningham, 33, said football wasn't fun the last few seasons, which prompted his retirement, and television is something that has interested him for a while. He did his own television show in Philadelphia the last seven seasons.

"When I saw John Madden was getting $8 million a year, I said, 'That's for me,' " Cunningham said.

Well, Turner isn't paying Cunningham $8 million--it's more in the range of $200,000 to $250,000, and that may be a bargain. Besides getting an analyst who was a three-time Pro Bowl player, Turner also has someone who can spruce up the Atlanta studios with a little marble.

*

Tennis everywhere: Between the USA network and CBS, the U.S. Open, which begins Monday, will be getting extensive coverage. USA, which is devoting 85 hours to the Open, next week has coverage from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 to 8 p.m. every day through Friday. CBS has 45 hours, including late-night highlights that run 12:37 to 1:07 a.m. Its weekend coverage begins Aug. 31.

John McEnroe and Barry MacKay will be commentators for both USA and CBS. USA also has Tracy Austin and Virginia Wade, and CBS has Mary Carillo. Figuring two McEnroes are better than one, CBS will also use Patrick McEnroe, sidelined by shoulder surgery, as a studio analyst.

*

NBC apologizes: No, NBC isn't conceding that its Olympic coverage wasn't perfect, but it has issued a formal apology for comments made by host Bob Costas that Chinese and Chinese American groups said were insensitive.

Among the complaints was that Costas had said: "Every economic power including the United States wants to tap into that huge potential market, but of course there are problems with human rights, property rights disputes, the threat posed to Taiwan."

The apology, in the form of a letter, wasn't sent by Costas or Dick Ebersol, the president of NBC sports. It was written by Ed Markey, vice president in charge of public relations.

TV-Radio Notes

All-sports radio station KWNK (670) has been sold, pending FCC approval, which should take about three months. Lodis Communications Corp. of Los Angeles has agreed to buy the station for about $5 million. Although Lodis owns KWKW and four other Spanish-language station, it has 14 English-speaking stations in the western United States, many of which are involved in sports. A spokesman for Lodis said the company hopes to keep KWNK's all-sports format and also hopes to beef up the nighttime signal. . . . KWKW has agreed to carry 40 Laker home games in Spanish next season. . . . USC's football opener Sunday at 11 a.m. will be on the school's new radio station, KLSX-FM (97.1). Larry Kahn and Mike Lamb return as the announcers. The pregame show with Brian Golden will begin at 9:40 a.m.

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