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KRLA Latest to Try All-Sports Format

November 03, 2000|LARRY STEWART

KRLA is lacing up its cleats and preparing to tread dangerous territory.

The station will convert to all sports Dec. 1. It will carry ESPN Radio programming plus two local shows from 1-6 p.m. The station will also retain King hockey.

In a market that has never supported even one all-sports station, KRLA will be trying to succeed where there are now all-sports stations up and down the AM dial.

As if XTRA (690), KXTA (1150) and KMPC (1540) and now KRLA (1110) weren't already enough, Laker flagship KLAC (570) may be all-sports by the end of the year, carrying the new Fox Sports Radio network. If that happens, though, KXTA may switch to financial news--but retain the Dodgers.

In big sports markets such as Chicago, the ESPN stations have not fared well, and L.A. is not considered a big sports market. Too many other things to do, too many transients and, lately, mostly bad sports teams.

So how can KRLA succeed?

"First of all, you need credibility," said Joe McDonnell, who is moving from KFWB (980) to KRLA and will co-host a 3-6 p.m. show with Long Beach Press Telegram columnist Doug Krikorian.

"I think Doug and I have been around long enough to provide that credibility. We also want to get involved in the community, and the ESPN brand is an important factor too."

ESPN's weekday programming features Mike Golic and Mike Greenburg from 3-7 a.m., Tony Kornheiser from 7-10 a.m., and Dan Patrick from 10-1 a.m. KRLA plans to add a local show in the 1-3 p.m. slot and possibly a weekend boxing show. The weekend "Thoroughbred L.A." show, with Mike Willman and Kurt Hoover, will remain in place.

KRLA's new program director is looking at possible hosts for the 1-3 show. So who is the new program director? Would you believe McDonnell?

Well, sort of. Erik Braverman, the program director at KABC, will initially have the same role at KRLA, which will move into KABC's facilities. McDonnell will serve as assistant program director before eventually taking over. Gee, maybe McDonnell has finally found a program director he can get along with--himself.

McDonnell also gets along with Braverman. They have known each other since 1989, when both worked at KFI. McDonnell's relationship with Braverman led to the reunion of McDonnell and Krikorian on KABC on Sunday nights earlier this year. And their new KRLA gig came about once ABC-owned KRLA and KABC became sister stations.

Although KRLA will have two local programs, it will mainly be a network station, as is the new KMPC, which carries One-on-One Sports. KLAC will also be a network station if and when it starts carrying Fox.

Nancy Cole, KMPC's general manager, said, "Obviously, local stations have decided to go with network programming. We've been doing that longer than anybody else--10 years nationally and four in L.A.--and we look at this as a victory for us."

KXTA remains a local station, but probably not for long. KXTA has been a disaster since it went all sports in 1997, continually changing its name, on-air personnel and management, and is in disarray.

It started out by putting people who had run rock 'n' roll stations in charge. When it carried its first Dodger broadcast, a spring training game that was called after nine innings with the score 2-2, the clueless general manager, Roy Laughlin, called in. "Is that a victory for us? We're undefeated, right?" he said breathlessly as he let out a big cheer.

The host on the other end of the line was McDonnell.

"I remember that well," he sighed.

Laughlin also thought putting O.J. Simpson on the air during the week of the UCLA-USC game was a good idea, then tried to claim Simpson had simply called in out of the blue until Simpson set the record straight.

Whatever KRLA does, it will never match the foibles of KXTA.

"I hope we've learned from everybody else's mistakes," Braverman said. "There is no magic pill, but one thing we want to do is have a relationship with the sports community."


The big game Saturday is No. 2 Virginia Tech at No. 3 Miami on CBS. Thank goodness CBS doesn't think Saturday morning cartoons are more important. Good thing ABC finally gave in to public pressure and decided to show Oklahoma-Nebraska on the West Coast last Saturday. But it should have made that decision earlier than Friday night. . . . The other big event this weekend is Saturday's Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs. NBC offers 4 1/2 hours of coverage, beginning at 10 a.m. Charlsie Cantey joins host Tom Hammond. Tom Durkin will again call the races while Trevor Denman works as an analyst. All eight Breeders' Cup races will be simulcast on Santa Anita's vast in-house television systems. . . . The National Network (TNN), formerly the Nashville Network, says goodbye to NASCAR racing this weekend after a relationship of nearly 20 years. TNN is televising the Winston Cup race at Phoenix on Sunday at 11 a.m.

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