The Media Learning Curve: Blanton and beyond

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Photo by Mel Blackmon

The Best and Worst of the L.A. Sports Media shines a light on the TV guys — the anchors, reporters, sideliners, studio analysts ….

Dain Blanton, the subject of today’s story (linked here), fared well, as well he should.

Lou Riggs (linked here), the Santa Monica College instructor and sports casting training expert around town, had this to say about Blanton’s work:

“After he played in the 2004 Olympics, he still had a lot of volleyball left in him. But he also started thinking ahead. He started doing lot of color commentary for WCSN (now NBC Universal), and then started coming over to me on a regular basis after Tom Feuer hired him to do high-school football. He came over almost every week during football season for two years.

“He also started to expand his horizon, doing some play-by-play at NBC Universal, then adding sideline for Pac-10 football and then pro basketball. I told him at the start that he had everything it takes to be a good broadcaster, especially TV — He’s a good looking guy, well spoken, intelligent, listens extremely well, understands the importance of strong preparation and controlling an interview situation. I also told him he needed to be more assertive — without being a jerk. He’s getting a lot of opportunities because he works hard, is reliable and will always put in a top effort. He has many more horizons than even where he is today. A lot of talent with much potential.”

With the release of today’s Top 10/Bottom 5, where we can expect to please at least 10 people in the city and upset another five, we move on to cover the other stuff that didn’t make it into print:

== The rest of the U.S. Olympic figure skating team will be decided this weekend in Spokane, Wash., as NBC has the ladies free skate (delayed, 9 p.m., Channel 4 on Saturday, even though it’s live in the East). It comes after the ladies short program and free dance (3 p.m., delayed). The official announcement of the U.S. Olympic team comes Sunday (9 p.m.) with the champions exhibition airing Sunday (4 p.m.).
Bob Costas and Dick Button host, with Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton, Sandra Bezic and Andrea Joyce.

== CBS, which will do the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, have Jim Nantz and Phil Simms at the AFC championship game Sunday (Jets at Colts, Channel 2, noon). Pregame starts at 11 a.m. with a special intro by Joe Namath.

== Fox goes with four people — Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver and Chris Myers – covering the NFC championship game Sunday (Vikings at Saints, Channel 11, 3:30 p.m.), with the pregame at 3 p.m.

== HBO launches another “24/7″ reality show focused on NASCAR’s Jimmy Johnson starting Tuesday at 10 p.m., a four-week series leading to the Daytona 500.

== AND FINALLY:

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We can’t help but run this press release verbatim for the way it captures both the essence of pro bowling and the necessity of overhyping the next TV event — Sunday, 10 a.m., ESPN:

When the PBA Tournament of Champions was introduced in the early 1960s by PBA founder Eddie Elias, it provided the PBA Tour with an elite platform to showcase an exclusive field of champions.

The 45th Tournament of Champions … at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas will feature 63 players who have earned their right to compete in the season’s second major of the 2009-10 Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour by virtue of winning a PBA title.

With an event that has a rich tradition and a stellar field of players there are many storylines. But there are a few especially noteworthy stories to pay attention to are:

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= Kelly Kulick will once again make PBA Tour history by becoming the first woman to compete in a Tournament of Champions. She earned her berth by winning the first PBA Women’s World Championship. Kulick first made history by becoming the first woman to qualify for the Tour’s Exempt Tour back in 2006.

= Tom Smallwood, of Saginaw, Mich., who earned a Tour exemption after being laid off from his job at General Motors last spring, will try to win his second major after winning the PBA World Championship in December in storybook fashion against reigning Player of the Year Wes Malott.

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= Australian two-handed specialist Jason Belmonte will compete in his first Tournament of Champions after winning his first Tour title in 2008-09.

The Tournament of Champions is open exclusively to Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour exempt-player champions; the winners of the most recent PBA Regional Players Championship and Regional Players Invitational; the United States Bowling Congress Masters winner; the USBC Senior Masters, PBA Senior U.S. Open and PBA World Championship winners; all Tournament of Champions past winners, PBA Hall of Famers, and for the first time, the PBA Women’s World Championship titlist.

It’s gutter time, people.

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