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The Jungle Does Not Suck, Jacor Does

Ahe Jungle is king, Jim Rome is still the huge one, and Jacor is clueless, totally. John Rocker has it more together than these guys.

If you're listening Jacor, there's nothing as lame as tape-delayed radio. Nothing. Dead air sounds better. You don't take your best show, syndicated though it may be, and delay it four hours in San Diego, the city it first aired. Seriously bad call.

Jacor Broadcasting is the genius behind SoCal's two all-sports radio stations, among others we won't plug here.

XTRA-AM 690 is the San Diego version, and a pretty well oiled machine generally. Mostly solid hosts (Loose Cannons, John Kentera), good weekend guys (Chris Ehlo), some actual reporting thrown into what are usually helpful updates on the half hour, good use of network game broadcasts, and a strong signal. They overdo the Charger stuff, but this is a baseball site, so what else would we say?

KXTA-AM 1150 does Los Angeles, badly but trying to get better, actually has Rome live, and blasts a signal you can almost hear with Radio Shack's best, standing next to the transmitter. (L.A. Times' media guy Larry Stewart has been too busy writing about Alan Massengale to notice.)

I never thought I'd miss Al Downing, and that old KABC signal wasn't much, but you could pick it up clearly throughout Orange County, good enough in San Diego, and as far north as Santa Barbara.

The 1150 signal, which is supposed to be 50,000 watts, sucks. If that's 50,000 watts, I'm Babe Ruth. Jacor's lack of professionalism reflects badly on the Dodgers, and you'd think the organization would put its cleat down. One day, Bob Daly will be driving along, oh, say, Nordhoff, and not be able to pick up Ross, and the situation will be corrected. Let's hope it's in time to resurrect KABC for next year. KXTA will probably be out of business by that time anyway, or broadcasting in Spanish.

Meanwhile, Jim Rome has replaced Roy Firestone as the best interviewer in sports. If canned radio bothers you and you don't have an extension cord long enough to take your laptop to the beach, catch The Last Word on Fox Sports Net. It's more serious than the radio show, but Rome has great takes, and it's worth watching, especially since they've dumped the live audience....

ESPN really is "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" when it comes to baseball. Forget Star Trek, I Love Lucy, 60 Minutes, Law and Order, whathaveyou. Baseball Tonight is the best show in television history. SportsCenter gets knocked down to second because of hockey, and because they make you watch the whole show to get the baseball you require.

I don't know how we survived before ESPN, when all we got was the occasional game from Candlestick and grainy highlights from Dodger Stadium. Baseball Tonight is great at covering the only sport that matters. The anchors do a yeoman's job, but former players Dave Campbell, Ray Knight, Buck Martinez, and especially Harold Reynolds make the show.

Chris Berman takes a lot of heat, but I love watching his play-by-play games. His passion for the game works for me. Peter Gammons you can take or leave. OK, leave. Tim Kurkjian is pretty good too, but I've never seen a guy try so hard to pronounce his own name. Forget what they told you in speech training class and lose the "KurKKKJJJian, Tim. It's just Kurkjian....

Claudia Trejos gets bashed just about everywhere for her KTLA weekend wrap-ups, and I'd like to be the voice of reason, but I can't. It's not that she's a woman, and it's not that she's Hispanic. Those are good things, or can be. It's that she just comes across as not really knowing anything about what she's reading off the teleprompter, and she doesn't do that very well either.

Perkiness works for someone like Hannah Storm because you don't doubt for a second that she knows her stuff, and because she looks and sounds like a pro. The first time I caught Trejos' act, I thought she was an intern....

It's important to note that KTLA hasn't had a sports guy with anything more than a pedestrian knowledge of the topic since Keith Olbermann. Stu Nahan, Ed Arnold, and Tony Hernandez are all fine with 80's style basics, but nothing more. KTLA news management isn't sports savvy enough to get it, so you can't expect anything more from its talent than what keeps popping up....

Vinny, you're the greatest....

Howard Cole


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