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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO

McMahon Muscles Vasgersian Aside

February 09, 2001|LARRY STEWART

If you have a promising broadcasting career, best not get involved with Vince McMahon.

Matt Vasgersian found out firsthand this week.

The 1989 graduate of USC had worked himself up through the ranks. Minor league baseball announcing led to a job with the Milwaukee Brewers, which led to a variety of jobs with Fox Sports Net and FX and the prospect of doing baseball and other sports on the big Fox network.

Then came an opportunity to work for NBC.

Vasgersian didn't exactly jump at it. The position was main play-by-play announcer for McMahon's new XFL. Vasgersian consulted with a number of colleagues and friends, then decided maybe things would work out.

He figured the exposure couldn't hurt and his personality might be a good fit. And maybe the network would have him distance himself from all the craziness by making light of it.

He couldn't have been more wrong. Things didn't work out. After one telecast, McMahon demoted Vasgersian.

Vasgersian was replaced on the A team with a wrestling announcer, Jim Ross. Vasgersian was reassigned to the virtually nonexistent B team with Jerry Lawler, another announcer in McMahon's World Wrestling Federation stable. No, he's not related to the Clippers' Ralph Lawler.

It will be XFL shills Ross and Jesse Ventura announcing the Los Angeles Xtreme's home opener against the Chicago Enforcers on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Vasgersian, who lives in Santa Monica, will be in Orlando, Fla., for a game between the Rage and the San Francisco Demons that figures to get little air time.

Vasgersian's reaction? He said he is still under contract to NBC and could not comment.

Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports chairman, released a statement: "Matt is a terrific young talent who will be involved with NBC for many years to come."

That was nice of him.

Ebersol hired Vasgersian, and McMahon dumped him. After one telecast.

Now we know who is running NBC Sports. It's McMahon, who wants his announcers to be loud, obnoxious, obscene and in love with the XFL.

NBC, in trying to make a go of the XFL, might have been wise to distance itself from WWF shenanigans and give the league at least a little dignity.

But that apparently is not going happen. Not with McMahon running the show--and the network.

MEDIA-FRIENDLY SHAQ

Shaquille O'Neal, who a few weeks ago was boycotting the media, was all over the place this week, limping around on his injured foot. On Tuesday morning, he taped a one-on-one interview with Fox Sports Net's Lisa Guerrero and that afternoon did something athletes of his stature rarely do. He went on talk radio, in studio, and took calls from listeners.

Shaq was a guest of Joe McDonnell and Doug Krikorian for 90 minutes on ESPN Radio (1110), fulfilling a promise he had made before his media boycott.

"I did it because Joe and [producer] David [Vassegh] are my friends," he said after the show.

Although Krikorian asked a couple of pointed questions and chided Shaq about not being in shape, McDonnell turned the show into a love fest.

When a caller began criticizing Shaq, McDonnell lost his temper, as he is prone to do, and cut him off.

A GLOBAL HEIDI BOWL

This weekend's NBA All-Star game will be seen in 210 countries and will be broadcast in 42 languages. There are about 50 international networks on site.

The All-Star game is NBA's global showcase because the site is known two years in advance.

The person in charge of the NBA's extensive global operation is executive vice president Heidi Ueberroth, the 35-year-old daughter of Peter.

TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT

A new toy NBC will use in covering Sunday's All-Star game is Rail-Cam, a robotic camera that can move quickly along the sideline. The camera was used during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to capture Michael Johnson's victories in the 200 and 400, but this will be the first time it will be used for basketball.

Also, the head coaches and four players from each team will wear wireless microphones.

TNT's nine hours of All-Star festivities Saturday begins at 9 a.m. with a one-hour Team Up special that includes Michael Jordan. NBC will also carry the special.

Sunday on NBC, Lamar Odom will be a correspondent on "NBA Inside Stuff" at 11 a.m. The pregame show is at 3 p.m. and game coverage begins at 3:30.

RADIO DAZE

KXTA (1150) has shuffled its lineup again. A Fox radio network show with Kevin Kiley and obnoxious comedian Chuck Booms is now on from noon to 3 p.m., Arnie Spanier is on from 3-5 p.m. and Dave Smith and Tomm Looney from 5-7. . . . The only good thing about the lineup change is Spanier's time has been cut in half. . . . Ben Maller, who hasn't had his own show since the baseball season ended, begins doing a four-hour overnight show Saturdays and Sundays, 1-5 a.m., with Jason Smith this weekend for the Fox network. . . . Kurt Kretzschmar, who worked at the old KMPC (710), is coming home from the One-on-One network corporate offices in Chicago to become the program director on the new KMPC (1540). Kretzschmar will take over his new duties March 5.

IN CLOSING

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