On The Air
by Laura Nachman
Bucks County Courier Times
May 20, 2005

If Howard Eskin joins KYW's Sunday night sports show, "Sports Access," it will be interesting to see if he can improve the popularity of the show, which usually trails WCAU's "Sports Final" in the ratings at 11:30 p.m.

A contributor to WCAU's "Sports Final" since 1996, Eskin announced that he was moving on to new challenges on Sunday.

The general consensus is that Eskin will continue his popular "Insider's" feature for KYW, and that he won't replace anyone in the current lineup of Beasley Reece, Garry Cobb and Steve Bucci.

Reece signed a new contract last year, and it's unlikely that Eskin would replace Bucci or Cobb as a reporter because he already has a full-time job on WIP 610-AM from 3-7 p.m. weekdays.

If Eskin joins the show, perhaps news anchor Larry Mendte, who has been doing segments for "Sports Access," can next sub for meteorologist Kathy Orr when she goes on maternity leave.

Eskin got one glowing reference from an ex-colleague. Former KYW executive producer Frank Traynor, an executive at Bloomberg News, wrote: "If a network gave me a television station to run, the very first call I would make would be to Howard Eskin. Howard is the best in the business and not just as a sports reporter. His Rolodex broke news for us at KYW back in the '80s.

Fans too young to recall also owe Howard a big thank you. If Howard had not stepped in when he did back in the '80s [former Eagles' owner] Leonard Tose would have snuck the Eagles out of town just like they did in Baltimore [when Robert Irsay moved the Colts to Indianapolis]. Howard broke the Eagles story at KYW. He nailed it, and, by doing so, I believe helped to keep the team in town."

As for the rest of the Sunday night scene, WTXF airs "Sports Sunday" with Don Tollefson and Bill Vargus at 10:40 p.m. During the football season, WPVI airs the top-rated "Football Frenzy" with Gary Papa and an Eagles' player-reporter (last season it was Dhani Jones.) Some think that "Super Bowl" contributor Irving Fryar may be part of that show this season. WPHL discontinued its sports show a year and a half ago.

"Sports Final" with Vai Sikahema and John Clark probably will add a third person to the mix. Next year, WCAU, which is an NBC affiliate, will take over NFL "Sunday Night Football" from ESPN.

Father's Day gift idea

Warner Home Video is releasing the "Complete History of the 76ers" in a box set DVD. It includes interviews from Sixers legends including Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson and Darryl Dawkins.

Channel flipping

ESPN commentator Mike Ditka has a featured role in the Will Ferrell movie "Kicking and Screaming." ... "Listen Up," starring Jason Alexander and loosely based on the life of ESPN's Tony Kornheiser, was canceled by CBS.

May 20, 2005 6:13 AM