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Media column: ESPN's unprecedented plan for BCS title game; More local radio changes; Heat chatter

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

Apparently, simply televising the most important college sports events no longer suffices. Networks now must air variations of the traditional broadcast to feel they're measuring up, whether there’s a viewer demand for it or not.

This curious trend began a few months ago, when Turner announced that it would present this April's two men’s NCAA Tournament national semifinal games with three different cablecasts. TBS will air a traditional cablecast, while TNT and TruTV air coverage from the perspective of the teams competing.

Now, ESPN has unveiled a six-way “Megacast” of Monday’s FSU-Auburn BCS national championship.

If you prefer to watch a “normal broadcast,” you can do that by tuning in ESPN, where the game will be called by Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit.

But if you want something a little different, there are choices, with all of them beginning at 8:30 p.m., shortly before kickoff:

### On ESPN2’s BCS Title Talk, analysts and several coaches and celebrities will dissect what’s happening. Viewers will see a live game feed, as well as enhanced stats and a “social stripe” with live social media feedback.

### ESPNews will serve up BCS Film Room, in which ESPN analysts and guests will analyze the game from, appropriately enough, a film room! Viewers often will see camera angles different from those used in the “normal” broadcast.

### On ESPN Classic, the game will be aired without announcer audio. Instead, viewers will hear ambient sounds around the stadium as well as the Rose Bowl’s public address announcer. (We have no major problem with Brent Musburger, but this channel is a gift for those who do.)

### ESPN Goal Line, part of the network’s regular season pay-per-view package, will split the screen with live action and replays of the previous play, supplemented by ESPN Radio’s call of the game, with Mike Tirico and Todd Blackledge.

### ESPN3, the network’s on-line service, will offer team-specific coverage similar to what Turner is doing with the Final Four. Fans can hear the Auburn or Florida State radio broadcasts, and traditional camera angles will be complemented by Skycam and isolation cameras on key coaches and players. ESPN3 also will offer another option with live coverage exclusively from an above-stadium camera angle.

So why is ESPN going to the trouble of doing all this?

“Sports fans can’t get enough of big events,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive vice president/programming. “While we’ve introduced full circle coverage efforts in the past, the combination of available technology, emerging ESPN platforms and creative concepts will set this one apart.”

AROUND THE DIAL

### Don’t expect Tim Tebow to be critical in his new role as a college football analyst on ESPN (beginning next week) or The SEC Network (beginning in August). Tebow said he plans to be “positive but objective.” And hopefully not sleep-inducing, which seems a real possibility.

### Considering the importance of the game, the 16.5 local rating for the Jets-Dolphins finale was disappointing to say the least.

### WQAM-560 has chosen Brandon Guzio and Alex Donno to host its 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. show, instead of Curtis Stevenson, who lost his 1 to 3 p.m. gig this week.

Channing Crowder has moved back to the 1 to 3 p.m. slot, alongside Adam Kuperstein, in anticipation of Marc Hochman taking over WQAM's 3 to 7 p.m. show on April 1, the earliest date permitted because of a non-compete clause in his most recent contract.

Hochman, who left 790/104.3 The Ticket's morning show in December, wants to add two co-hosts and has strong interest in hiring Joy Taylor, his former morning colleague (with Jonathan Zaslow) on The Ticket. Taylor, sister of former Dolphins star Jason Taylor, declined to comment about her plans. WQAM has not approached Zaslow.

Jeff Fox and Ed Freeman, AKA “The Sports Brothers,” will handle the 3 to 7 p.m. slot on WQAM until April 1, and Kevin Rogers will remain the permanent evening host on nights when there aren't conflicts with Florida Panthers and UM basketball games. Stevenson, who is worthy of a regular show, will return to his fill-in role.

### More radio personnel moves: WMEN-640 is considering ex-WQAM staffer John Linder and several former NFL players, including Adewale Ogunleye and Plaxico Burress, to do a noon-3 p.m. show. That job opened with Andy Slater’s move to WINZ-940, where he will take over the 2 to 5 p.m. slot on Jan. 6.

### NBC 6’s 11:27 p.m. sports, which for years was the market's most comprehensive (along with WSVN-7’s), has been badly damaged by management's decision to cut the length of the late sportscast from 3:30 to 1:30.

Joe Rose (or Courtney Fallon) previously were able to fit in more stories than WFOR’s Jim Berry or WPLG’s Will Manso could accommodate on their late sportscasts. That’s no longer the case. And viewers inclined to watch all three of those sportscasts --- along with WSVN's 11 p.m. sportscast --- can no longer do that, either.

### Fans are invited to attend ESPN Deportes’ 10th-anniversary festivities at the Colony Hotel on Miami Beach on Tuesday, with the network broadcasting live from 9:15 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Miguel Cabrera and Roberto Duran among those expected.  

### Early views on ESPN’s revamped NBA studio: New host Sage Steele is too wordy and wasted time on Christmas trying to convince us how much she, Doug Collins, Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose like each other. Who cares?… Collins deserves more time to speak, and Steele needs to encourage the analysts to debate among themselves, rather than using the predictable, formulaic approach of asking each of them a question… Shame on ESPN for not showing NBA scores or highlights during halftime of its Christmas games. The primary purpose of a studio show should be updating viewers on other games.

### Save of the Year by ESPN’s Jesse Palmer, who performed the Heimlich maneuver on colleague Chris Fowler at halftime of the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. “He saved me from death by dry chicken sandwich,” Fowler tweeted.

Please see the last post, from late last night, for Heat chatter and a couple Canes/Al Golden notes. 

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