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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO / LARRY STEWART

Fox's Move Is Out of Bounds

September 05, 2003|LARRY STEWART

ABC has sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero and Fox announced Thursday that Tony Siragusa, the portly former Baltimore Raven defensive lineman, would join its NFL announcing team of Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnston as a sideline reporter.

Doesn't anybody take that job seriously anymore?

Armen Keteyian does. Keteyian is the sideline reporter for CBS' lead team of Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms.

"It seems the sideline reporter has become an ornament," Keteyian said. "It's more about your body than your body of work."

And Fox has gone the wide-body route.

Keteyian may be one of a dying breed -- a journalist and serious reporter who works the sidelines.

After graduating cum laude from San Diego State in 1976, Keteyian went into the newspaper business, then wrote for Sports Illustrated from 1982 to '89. He is a two-time Emmy Award-winning reporter for HBO's "Real Sports." He has done investigative, sports-related pieces for ABC News, produced a documentary and written books.

While Siragusa can be seen strolling the sideline, doing who knows what during the early game on Fox on Sunday, St. Louis at the New York Giants, Keteyian will be trying to provide meaningful reports during the San Diego-Kansas City game on CBS.

Why does he even bother with this sideline reporting gig? Keteyian certainly has plenty else on his plate.

"First and foremost, it's live television at the highest level," he said. "And it's a different kind of storytelling. You have to clearly and concisely tell a story that has a beginning, middle and end. It has to have a punch line or a point to it. It's an art. For me, it's a rush to do a game."

Keteyian is perplexed by people who tell him sideline reporting is easy.

"I say, 'Come on down here, I'll give you 20 seconds to do a story that has a beginning, middle and end with the crowd screaming, a camera in your face and 20 million people watching. And you don't get a second chance.' "

Keteyian is proud of being a sideline reporter. And he is disturbed that the networks see the role as strictly entertainment. "It's a troubling trend because I see a number of qualified male reporters who don't seem to be getting opportunities, reporters who are qualified journalists rather than entertainists," Keteyian said.

He was careful to say he was not talking just about female sideline reporters, adding that some male sideline reporters show up unprepared.

Think Siragusa will be boning up on depth charts and stat sheets over the next few days?

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Radio Comeback

In 1995, Larry Kahn landed his dream job, becoming the radio voice of USC football and basketball. It turned into a nightmare.

A dispute with the school over finances ended in a bitter lawsuit, although it was eventually settled.

Undaunted, Kahn took out business loans and started his own radio network, Sports USA. It carried a few college bowl games at the end of the 1998 season.

This season, Sports USA will nationally broadcast 17 NFL doubleheaders, a college game of the week, the Big 12 championship game and five bowl games. Kahn says the network has 130 NFL affiliates and expects that to grow to 175 by the end of the season. And he says he has 120 college affiliates.

In Los Angeles, KLSX-FM (97.1) will carry his NFL broadcasts at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., giving the station three Sunday games, since it also carries Westwood One's Sunday night game.

XTRA (690 and 1150) will carry Sports USA's college broadcasts when there isn't a UCLA conflict. Since UCLA plays at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sports USA's Florida-Miami broadcast will be on at 5 p.m.

Besides running the network, Kahn is also the lead play-by-play announcer, usually paired with former Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta. After working Florida-Miami, they'll travel to Buffalo for a Sunday game between the Bills and New England Patriots.

Kahn and Torretta will work most of the college games and some of the NFL games. Among the announcers who'll help with the NFL workload are Alabama announcer Eli Gold, the Chicago White Sox's John Rooney, and former Texas announcer Bill Schoening on the play-by-play side, with former Avenger coach Stan Brock, former UCLA and Indianapolis Colt tight end Charles Arbuckle and UCLA radio commentator Matt Stevens working as commentators and sideline reporters.

Kahn does not have fond memories of his troubles with USC, but says, "It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. It forced me to start this network."

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More Radio

XTRA will have a 2 1/2-hour UCLA "Bruin Countdown" pregame show Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. One new feature will be a "Where Are They Now?" interview by John Ireland. First up is former Bruin wide receiver Michael Young.... UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell will have two regular spots on XTRA during the week, one at noon on Mondays and the other at 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Also, there will be a weekly "Bruin Roundtable" show Wednesdays at 7 p.m. with two players and a coach.

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