Up and down the dial, stations have begun suiting up for football season. Washington Redskins management and players, along with a handful of sideline "experts," have found outlets to discuss the game through season's end.
Charley Casserly will provide WXTR-FM (104.1) listeners with an "insight on the Redskins through the mind of the general manager of the team," believes Program Director Bob Duckman. "He can add some color to his commentary that you can't find at other places."
Casserly's on-air reports, which frequently catch the attention of the players, air weekdays at 7:05 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. An updated report airs again at 5:05 p.m. and 6:35 p.m.
Coach Joe Gibbs has returned to news-sports-talk WTOP-AM (1500) for his seventh season of reports heard weekdays at 7:18 a.m., 1:18 p.m., 5:18 p.m. and 7:10 p.m.; and Saturdays at 6:25 a.m., 8:25 a.m., 10:25 a.m. and 12:25 p.m.
Assistant General Manager Bobby Mitchell returns to talk station WWRC-AM (980), where he reports Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:48 a.m., and each weekday afternoon at 4:57.
Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien will play his third season with the WAVA-FM (105.1) morning team. "He sings and occasionally talks about football," said the ever-optimistic Alan Goodman, WAVA's general manager, who hopes to get Rypien on the air between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m., up to four days a week by the end of the month.
At WHUR-FM (96.3), Program Director Bobby Bennett last week was still negotiating with a personality to do the Redskins reports. Last season former player Rick "Doc" Walker had the job, but it's unclear if he'll be back. One thing for certain is that the Harris brothers, Glenn and Ron, will return for their eighth season of Saturday afternoon play-by-play and commentary of the Howard University Bisons on WHUR. Their laid-back but informed style is a refreshing approach, and listening to them is just short of sitting alongside them in the stadium.
Country combo WMZQ-AM/FM (1390/98.7) again goes with the man-on-the-street approach, bringing back Rich "The Coach" Gilgallon with "Street Sports" at 6:45 and 7:45 Monday and Friday mornings. Gilgallon prepares for his shows by tending bar at Chadwick's on Wisconsin Avenue NW.
Capital Cities/ABC has paid top rates to the 'Skins for the exclusive broadcast rights to all Redskins games on WMAL-AM (630), the first of which is to be heard Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when the Redskins play the Atlanta Falcons in Chapel Hill, N.C. Except for several years in the '50s, the games have been on WMAL since 1942. The news-talk-sports station is currently in the second year of a three-year deal that cost almost $8 million. This season advertisers will pay an average of $1,700 for a 30-second mention during the game, and as much as $4,000 for a full minute. Former players Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff will do the commentaries, while Frank Herzog does the play-by-play.
In all, the station nearly makes a seasonal change to a format of football talk-chatter, pregame analysis, the game, postgame analysis and more football chatter followed by a week of interviews.
Featured in the starring roles are Jeff Bostic with Bill Trumbull and Chris Core on weekday afternoons. (Bostic's wife, Lynn, fills in when Bostic can't make the call; she's good enough and funny enough to be considered for a staff announcer's job at the station. In fact, maybe she could replace Harden and Weaver, but that's for another column. ... ) And, depending on the weekday, Jurgensen, defensive coordinator Larry Peccatiello, offensive line coach Jim Hanifan, defensive coach Richie Petitbon or all-pro defensive tackle Jim Lachey will be heard with Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver at 8:45 a.m.
Ken Beatrice's two-hour "Sports Call" show will follow each game, and on Mondays at 7 p.m. it will be broadcast live from an area watering hole with a Redskins player as the featured guest.
Not enough sports, you say? Well, the University of Maryland football season, anchored by Johnny Holliday, begins Sept. 1 from Byrd Stadium in College Park on WMAL. Then on Oct. 5, the Washington Capitals begin their hockey season at Capital Centre against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ron Weber, also on WMAL, is the announcer.
While this may appear as an absolute sports overload, it somehow has a great deal of appeal in this football-crazed market, and station managers say they have little trouble selling air time associated with sports programming.
Sporting the Bizarre
Then there's the unconventional approach to sports coverage. Former Redskins backfield steamroller John Riggins will be back at the WWDC-FM (101.1) studios for a second year of chatter with Doug "The Greaseman" Tracht, each Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 7:30 and 8:30. Keep in mind that it's not all X's and O's here. They'll talk 'Skins, duck hunting, truck racing. Whatever. These are not common men and this is an unusual show. Be prepared. For a truly different perspective of football, WJFK-FM's (106.7) New York-based Howard Stern will have occasional discussions with Redskins players.
"There are several Redskins players who are Stern fans and who we expect to appear on the show during the season, particularly when the Redskins play the Eagles and the Giants," said WJFK General Manager Ken Stevens. Last year Stern spoke regularly to Giants giant Leonard Marshall. Very little football was discussed, but there was plenty of off-the-field, hard-hitting action.