XTRA, the sports station that used to be on two frequencies, 690 and 1150, moved to KLAC's 570 frequency Feb. 3 amid much fanfare.
Although as far as the FCC is concerned the call letters remain KLAC, the station bills itself XTRA Sports AM 570. The implication is that the station is giving sports fans something extra.
But, it appears XTRA Sports AM 570 may be giving sports fans less, at least less sports programming.
Shortly after making the switch to 570, the station dropped its local nighttime sports show in favor of Phil Hendrie's syndicated general talk show. And now comes word that the station will drop its early-morning syndicated sports show in favor of a syndicated Howard Stern-type show out of Chicago.
Beginning May 23, Van Earl Wright, Andrew Siciliano and Krystal Fernandez will be replaced by Erich "Mancow" Muller, described by XTRA General Manager Don Martin as "a toned-down Stern."
The sports show, called "The Morning Extravaganza" and syndicated by the Fox Sports radio network to about 100 stations, is not going away. It will still be carried by Lancaster station KAVL (610) and on XM satellite radio's Channel 142. It just will no longer be carried by XTRA.
Ratings, of course, are why XTRA is veering away from sports at certain parts of the day.
"We are here to shatter the myth that sports lovers need sports 24/7," Martin said. "If you look at what works in morning drive, in every format, it's entertainment. Entertainment wins, period. So we went and got the most entertaining show out there."
Martin says his station's midday lineup of Jim Rome, "Loose Cannons" Steve Hartman and Mychal Thompson, and Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton remains strong.
"With the combination of Stern going away [to Sirius satellite radio sometime before the end of the year] and Mancow entering the world of syndication, we saw an opportunity to take the station to a whole new level," he added.
In the last Arbitron rating book, "The Morning Extravaganza" drew a 1.1 share among men 25-54 in Los Angeles. In the same demographic category, Stern on KLSX-FM (97.1) drew a 7.6 share, down from a 9.2 share in the previous rating book.
The station would like to get somewhere close to those numbers with Muller.
Said Joe McDonnell of rival station KSPN (710), "The move will increase their ratings, there's no doubt about that. But it may also turn off some of their hard-core sports listeners, which will be a good thing for us."
David Vassegh, McDonnell's former producer at KSPN and now a reporter at XTRA, listened to McDonnell's comment in the Dodger Stadium press box Wednesday night and said, "What does he know?"
Said Martin, "We're still the sports station of record. But it's all about winning."
Petros Papadakis of KMPC (1540) will play the part of a New York sports talk-show host on the May 11 edition of CBS' "CSI: New York." The role might be a stretch for Papadakis.... Papadakis' older brother, Taso, a USC linebacker in the mid-1990s and now an actor and photographer, plays the role of a Serbian terrorist on ABC's "Alias."
NBA regular-season ratings were down one-tenth of a rating point on ABC, TNT and ESPN. And through nine playoff games, TNT is averaging a 1.9 rating, the same as last year at the same juncture.... All playoff games are being carried by Sirius satellite radio.
The arrival of ESPNU has meant coverage for college events that otherwise would not be televised, such as this weekend's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation's women's water polo championships. The field includes top-ranked UCLA, No. 2 USC, No. 4 Long Beach State, No. 12 UC Irvine and No. 19 Cal State Northridge.
ESPN Classic will have a new early evening lineup, beginning Monday, with several new programs. A highlight is the debut on Classic of "Top Five Reasons You Can't Blame ..." Monday's 6 p.m. show focuses on Chicago Cub fan Steve Bartman and why he shouldn't be blamed for the team's playoff collapse in 2003. The May 16 show focuses on Kobe Bryant and why he shouldn't be blamed for the breakup of the Lakers. Some episodes have already been shown on ESPN2 as NHL replacement programming.
Chris Berman, who periodically returns as "SportsCenter" anchor, will do so Sunday and Tuesday on the 8 p.m. editions, working alongside Stuart Scott.... Angel pitchers Scot Shields and Brendan Donnelly will be guests on ESPN's "Teammates" Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.... NFL Network, which recently added Cox Communications as a carrier, begins broadcasting in Mexico via Sky Mexico on Sunday.... No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith will be on Jay Leno's show tonight.
Mike Cruz of Chino gets a golf makeover on the season premiere of the Golf Channel's "Makeover Challenge" Wednesday at 6 and 9 p.m.... FSN's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" offers another live boxing card Thursday, this one featuring light heavyweights Julio Gonzalez and Montell Griffin.
Reader Billy C. Turner, supervisor of a compensation insurance fund, says he has e-mailed TNT, complaining about the bad grammar of its basketball commentators.
It's not just TNT, though. There is bad grammar among sportscasters at all networks.
"It is an insult to the parents who stress to their children the importance of getting a good education," Turner says. "When those children watch the playoffs and see and hear the commentators speaking incorrectly, I'm sure they say to themselves, 'Why should I learn to speak correctly when they don't? Just imagine how much they are being paid to speak incorrectly.' "