Phils' network seeks expansion

With Phillies fans in portions of Bucks County and other parts of the Delaware Valley fearing that the new flagship station of the team, WPEN, stands for "Phillies End North" of Vet Stadium, there is an ongoing effort to add affiliates to the team's 15-plus station radio network. Fans are crying foul over WPEN 950-AM's 5,000-watt signal, which is not as strong as former flagship station WPHT 1210-AM, a 50,000 watt clear channel signal. As Opening Day approaches, Rory McNeil, director of broadcast and video services for the Phillies, confirmed the team is receiving calls and e-mails about the radio situation. So why didn't WPHT retain rights to the Phillies, who had a rare winning season last year? In a letter to the media, station vice president and general manager Sil Scaglione wrote: "Presently there is not sufficient demand for Phillies baseball in Philadelphia to warrant almost seven months of baseball on a daily basis on our radio station. If you recall last year, while the Phillies were having one of their best seasons in a long time, many a night the team put less than 20,000 people in the ballpark! Even in the midst of a tight divisional race late in the season, in general there seemed to be limited interest and little passion for the team. In conjunction with the team's shrinking fan base, advertiser interest has also diminished making it hard to justify buying the broadcast rights from the team."Thus, with WPHT out of the picture and sports radio WIP not an option, because it already carries the Flyers and Sixers, the Phillies signed with WPEN. The radio home of the Eagles, WYSP 94.1 FM, could not be reached for comment on whether it was interested in the Phillies. WIP, WYSP, and WPHT are all Infinity broadcasting stations. It remains to be seen if this move turns out to be a home run or a strikeout.

False rumors
In a related note, WPEN general manager Rick Feinblatt flatly denied rumors that the station will change to an ESPN radio affiliate. Philadelphia is the only top-10 market and one of only two in the top 50 markets in the country that doesn't have an ESPN affiliate.

Tilley earns promotion
CN8 sports anchor Lou Tilley signed a new deal with the Comcast Network making him executive producer for the CN8 Network sports division. Tilley will be in charge of all sports content on the network, which includes 300 live games a year, sportscasts on the news and his daily show "The Sports Connection."

Job opening
Tapes are arriving daily on new WPHL news director Chuck Carter's desk for the soon to be vacant weekend sports anchor position. When Jenna Wolfe leaves for the Madison Square Garden Network, part-timer Blaine Applegate (the best name for a television reporter) hopes to be considered for the job. Applegate formerly anchored in Albany.

Want to be an announcer?
For those who want to become the next Bob Costas, aspiring sports announcers can learn from local professionals at the first sportscasters' camp sponsored by Comcast SportsNet and the Scholastic Play by Play Network. Personalities and behind-the-scenes staffers from CSN, CN8, WCAU-TV and more will teach high school students the tricks of the trade June 19-21 at Bryn Mawr College. Go to www.scholasticpbpnetwork.com to register.

Stars won't shine
There won't be Vince Carter or Allen Iverson, but Comcast SportsNet will be televising the Raptors-Sixers game at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. This game was originally scheduled for NBC, but was bumped for a Washington Wizards game before Michael Jordan got hurt.

What a Treat
Unofficial "Kobeologist" Jeremy Treatman was recently interviewed for the upcoming episode of "Beyond the Glory: Kobe Bryant" on Fox Sports Net. Treatman, a local sports announcer and high school basketball promoter, was an assistant coach on Bryant's Lower Merion High School team.

Laura Nachman covers television and radio sports for the Courier Times. Write her in care of the Courier Times, 8400 Route 13, Levittown, PA 19057, fax 215-949-4177 or email bradyresident@aol.com

Friday, March 29, 2002