On The Air
by Laura Nachman
Bucks County Courier Times
July 22, 2005

As WPVI-6 uses news reporters Chad Pradelli and David Henry to anchor sports, it brings up the question: Are sportscasters necessary for local newscasts?

CBS3 sports director Beasley Reece says sportscasters are still needed in today's landscape.

"For a news station, it's a question of credibility," he said. "Yes, any anchor would be able to read highlights that were prepared by a sports producer, but the public knows whether the reader has knowledge of sports.

"For instance, [CBS3's] Kathy Orr is more credible than an anchor doing the weather. For sports it's the same thing. A viewer would prefer to get their sports from someone like me, [NBC10 sports director] Vai [Sikahema] or [6ABC sports director] Gary Papa."

Reece acknowledged that sports has much more to compete with these days, such as the increased role in newscasts of traffic and weather.

"When I started in this business 20-years ago, sports was given at least four minutes a show," he said. "Today it's usually around 2:45.

"Though some news directors like to say that people get their sports from ESPN and the Internet, the same could be said for news with CNN and the Internet."

According to sports industry sources, one of the open 6ABC sports positions will go to ESPNews anchor Keith Russell. Russell is a Temple University graduate who once interned in the Fox-29 sports department. Russell is scheduled to begin Sept. 12. He will become the second Philadelphia sportscaster who interned at Fox, joining NBC-10's John Clark.

Eagles preseason on 6ABC

According to sport industry sources, 6ABC has intercepted the Eagles' preseason package from CBS3. 6ABC and the Eagles' Television Network will produce three games, and ESPN will televise one contest. Last season the preseason games were on CBS3.

The first preseason game will match the Eagles at the Steelers on Monday, Aug. 15, on ESPN. Then 6ABC will televise the Eagles at the Ravens on Saturday, Aug. 20, a home game vs. the Bengals on Friday, Aug. 26, and the finale at home vs. the Jets on Thursday, Sept. 1. Announcers haven't been named yet.

6ABC and CBS3 have been battling for possession of the Eagles for the last few years. CBS3 took the Sunday night show "Eagles Total Access" from 6ABC in 2003. It is probably returning to 6ABC with a different name this season, and "The Donovan McNabb Show" is also likely headed to 6ABC.


WIP 610-AM part-timer Ray Didinger was named best sports radio personality in the upcoming "Best of Philly" issue of Philadelphia magazine. His television show, "Eagles Post Game Live" on Comcast SportsNet, was named best local TV show.

Channel flipping

"Venus and Serena: For Real" begins its six-week run on ABC Family Channel.  "Super Agent" debuts on Spike TV 10 10 tonight. "The Bad News Bears" with Billy Bob Thornton opens in theaters today. This is the second coach Thornton has played this year. He portrayed a high school football coach in "Friday Night Lights."

July 22, 2005 5:57 AM