Washington Redskins games have been broadcast by WMAL radio for 25 consecutive years. The last seven of those years, coinciding with the Joe Gibbs era, Frank Herzog, Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgensen have been together in the broadcasting booth, fitting as comfortably as an old helmet.

You know Sam; he's the guy in the car commercials. You know Sonny; he's the guy who used to be in the car commercials. And you know Frank; he's the guy who ought to be doing car commercials. Of course, Sam and Sonny -- it's ridiculous to call them by their last names or to refer to one without the other -- also are Hall of Fame football players.

On a typical Redskins Sunday, at least one of every four persons listening to radio in the Washington area is listening to WMAL. (Being that there are almost 50 radio stations here, WMAL's audience share conservatively could be termed as overwhelming market domination.)

Many of those listeners are folks who watch the game on TV with the sound turned off. Therein lies perhaps the biggest problem with the radio broadcasts. The fact is, most people listening to WMAL are not watching the game, also. Yet Herzog, Huff and Jurgensen comment on TV replays routinely and read out-of-town scores off the screen. That's okay and it can enhance the broadcast, but sometimes Sam and Sonny will talk about the replays and scores in cryptic fashion, saying things like, "Look what the Buccaneers are doing to St. Louis."

Aside from that, however, the Redskins' radio broadcasts, at least from the opening kickoff to the final gun, are tremendously entertaining. The formula for listening to the Redskins on WMAL is simple: skip the pregame and postgame festivities.

The one-hour pregame show, hosted by car commercial veteran Johnny Holliday, is a series of unenlightening taped interviews with players and coaches. Holliday also chats briefly with Sam and Sonny, who, through the magic of technology, wind up competing against their own taped "Countdown to Kickoff" presentation on WUSA-TV-9 at noon. Whether it's TV or radio, Sam and Sonny are best left untouched until game time.

After locker room interviews, the postgame show is turned over to call-in host/fast-food commercial veteran Ken Beatrice. Beatrice holds court until 7 p.m. At 5, he gives his "complete analysis" of the game, going over virtually every starting position for each team. It takes about 13 minutes. At 6, Beatrice gives his "quickie analysis" of the game, a scaled-down version of his "complete analysis." It takes about nine minutes. Remember -- when you hear the ominous shrill of Beatrice's "Yoooooou're next!!!", it's important to say to yourself, "Oh, no, I'm not."

So throw out Holliday and Beatrice and concentrate solely on the game.

When they click, Herzog and partners are a wonderful complement to the action.

They know the Redskins and they know each other so well. Jurgensen's arrival in the booth in 1981 completed the team -- Huff had been there since '75 and Herzog since '79. They have a folksy congeniality that sometimes does lapse into an out-of-control, slap-happy giddiness. To be sure, the group roots for the Redskins, but each of them can be critical (Huff not as much as the others; he too often lambastes officials for perceived bad calls against the Redskins).

Herzog's play-by-play is solid; his signature, "Touchdown, Washington Redskins" call, has a simple, elegant ring to it. He sharply points out game trends and momentum swings. And with his sense of recent Redskins history, Herzog wittily brings a good base of knowledge to broadcasts. "In the fine tradition of right offensive tackle for the Washington Redskins," he said during Week 2, "holding is the call."

Sam and Sonny feed off each other's energy. They're like a couple of schoolboys playfully pushing each other while walking home. As sure as Sam will question a coach's play-calling, Sonny quickly will retort, "There's Sam calling plays again."

Jurgensen is adept at predicting plays, and he and Herzog took advantage of this a couple of Sundays ago in Buffalo to fool their partner. The broadcasters were sitting next to the coaches booth. At one point, Jurgensen looked over to quarterbacks coach Jerry Rhome right after the Redskins took over possession.

"Jerry wrote '84' {Gary Clark's number} on a piece of paper and drew an arrow," Herzog recalled. "Sam didn't see it. Well, we had come back from commercial, and I say, 'Sonny, let's have you play quarterback for a second. What are the Redskins going to do here?' Sonny looks at me with a big grin and he says, 'I think it's time to open it up, maybe a play-action pass and go deep to Clark.' Sure enough, {Jay} Schroeder connects downfield to Clark {for a 51-yarder}. 'Isn't that unbelievable?' I said. Sam couldn't believe it . . . It was the first time we've been able to pull one over like that."