Any time the Redskins are playing, the Washington media corps goes into a Stage One Alert: Treat the game as the most important sports event of the day. Any time the Redskins make the playoffs, the area media corps goes into a Stage Two Alert: Treat the game as the most important news event of the week. And any time the Redskins make the Super Bowl, the area media corps goes into a Stage Three Alert: Treat the game as the most important event in the history of the world.

Welcome to Stage Three.

Beginning Monday, D.C.'s four TV news stations will be pointing cameras at all parts of San Diego in search of the Super Bowl. The Redskins won't dominate local newscasts, they'll be local newscasts. If, on the same day this week, the Soviets invade Annapolis, the Dow drops 1,700 points and the Redskins change kickers, you'd better believe we'll be watching film of Jess Atkinson in practice before we'll get highlights of Russian troops eating crabcakes or stock brokers jumping out of Wall Street office buildings.

"When the story gets this big," said WUSA-TV-9 sportscaster Glenn Brenner, "it leaves the realm of sports and goes to news. It's like a gas leak -- it starts in sports and seeps out to the newsroom and makes its way to the producers. Once in their hands, there's no going back."

"I'd like to take the philosophical stand that we're not going to try to create news in San Diego," said WJLA-TV-7 sportscaster Frank Herzog, "but unfortunately, I can't do that because no one else will take that approach and I'll get clobbered."

The stations are mobilizing as we speak -- you know, laying out cable lines cross-country, getting on-air talent into makeup -- for Operation You Can't Do Enough Of The Redskins:

WUSA-TV-9 will have Brenner, Ken Mease and Sonny Jurgensen in San Diego, joined by Mike Buchanan's "On the Road" reports and Andrea Rhone's features. Redskins lineman Charles Mann will do a notebook on the 11 p.m. newscasts. Total manpower going to San Diego: 26.

WRC-TV-4 will have George Michael and Rick Walker on the coast, joined by Jim Vance (who will co-anchor the news from out there) and feature reporter Pat Collins. There will be a special one-hour "Redskins Report" Saturday night at 8. Total San Diego manpower: 19.

WJLA-TV-7 will have Herzog and Jim Berry, joined by news anchors Renee Poussaint and Paul Berry and ex-Redskin Curtis Jordan. There will be a special 90-minute "Redskin Magazine" Super Bowl Sunday at 2:30. Total manpower: 20.

WTTG-TV-5 will have Steve Buckhantz joined by news reporter Mary Norton. Channel 5, compared to the others, will take a less fanatical approach to the whole affair. "Redskins Playbook" Monday night at 7:30, hosted by Buckhantz, will feature a round-table discussion you won't want to miss centering on the media. Total manpower: 10.

(To be fair, it must be pointed out that The Washington Post, too, tends to go a bit overboard with its Redskins Super Bowl coverage. In fact, I'm holding a Super Bowl party for the three of us in the sports department who are not going to San Diego. The Post will send a force of 18 west, including two Style reporters, two Metro reporters, one National reporter and six photographers.)

Meanwhile, WMAL Radio -- which is rumored to have invented Redskins Mania years ago as a way to fill air time between Harden & Weaver shifts -- will send 14 folks to the Super Bowl. Johnny Holliday will be out there all week, while Trumbull & Core will do their afternoon show from San Diego Thursday and Friday and Ken Beatrice will do his call-in show from there starting Thursday. On Super Bowl Sunday, WMAL's coverage will begin at 10:35 a.m. (that's a full 7 1/2 hours before kickoff).

"The only thing saving people from hearing the Redskins all day is we're doing a hockey game {Capitals-Flyers, noon} at Capital Centre," said WMAL's operations manager, Jim Gallant.

By the way, no film of the Capitals game at 11.

Local TV viewers got a preview of Super Bowl week in the days before the NFC championship game. Channel 9 virtually turned its newscast over to the Redskins in the final days -- throwing in some occasional crime and weather -- as Brenner and news anchor Gordon Peterson joked about WUSA's "around-the-clock" coverage of the breaking story. "Every time I looked up at a television set in our newsroom at one of the newscasts, it was solid Redskins for two hours," said WTTG sports producer Ernie Baur. "There's no question it's overkill, but I don't think you can do enough Redskins."

Which brings us to a musical close. You know the song. Gallant predicted, "You'll probably be able to find {'Hail to the . . . '} at least twice an hour on Washington radio all week."