The Media Learning Curve: Jan. 14-21


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Hans Gutknecht/Daily News Staff Photographer

Three more things you probably don’t know about KCAL Channel 9/KCBS Channel 2 sports anchor Jaime Maggio (even after today’s feature story, linked here):

= Her younger brother is in the Army and has spent the last two Christmases in Afghanistan, including his 21st birthday. “I love to do stories that are military-related, and I hope I get more opportunties to do more of them,” she said. “I’ve got a soft spot for them.”

= She’s probably traveled to more countries than you could find on a globe: Indonesia, Hong Kong, Vienna, England, France, Taiwan. “I’m planning a trip soon to Costa Rica,” she says. “I usually try to not just visit the big cities, but also go into the smaller villages where the people are really hurting, and try to offer help. It’s really eyeopening.”
It goes along with the fact that she’s served on the Steering Committee for the Cedars-Sinai Sports Spectacular since 2006, a group that has raised more than $20 million to benefit the life-saving work of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Institute.

= “I can also make a pizza from scratch,” she says, without a hint of boasting.

Meanwhile, the other things of note in TV media land:

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== Your NFL this weekend for two of the final three games of the season — not counting next Sunday’s Pro Bowl in Honolulu:

= NFC championship: Green Bay at Chicago, noon, Channel 11 (pregame begins at 11 a.m.), with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Chris Myers and Pam Oliver, plus NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira. Westwood One radio has Kevin Harlan, Randy Cross and Mark Malone.

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= AFC championship: New York Jets at Pittsburgh, 3:30 p.m., Channel 2 (pregame begins at 3 p.m.), with Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Steve Tasker. Westwood One radio has Dave Sims, James Lofton and Hub Arkush.

= The NFL Network has a six-hour “NFL Gameday Morning” edition start 6 a.m. with Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp, Rod Woodson, Kurt Warner, Deion Sanders, Joe Theismann, Brian Billick and Jim Mora. After the NFC title game, Paul Burmeister, Jamie Dukes and Tom Waddle have postgame analysis in a four-hour “Scoreboard” show. After the AFC championship game, Eisen, Sanders, Mariucci and Irvin have the “GameDay Final” at 7 p.m.

= HBO2 will also jump in by reairing all five hour-long eposide of its preseason “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the New York Jets,” starting Saturday at 3 p.m.

== Paul Burmeister, Mike Mayock, Charles Davis, Stacey Dales and Lindsay Soto are part of the NFL Network’s coverage of the East-West Shrine Game in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday at 1 p.m. USC tight end Jordan Cameron and UCLA defensive tackle David Carter are on the West squad.

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== The AMA Supercross event from Dodger Stadium on Saturday night airs tape-delay on CBS (Sunday, 9 to 10 a.m., Channel 2) with Ralph Sheheen, Jeff Emig and Erin Bates on the call.

== Versus announced an extension of its contract to cover AEG’s Amgen Tour of California cycling race, which this year runs eight stages from May 15-22, ending in Thousand Oaks, and this year including a mountain stage at Mt. Baldy. Versus has done the event for the last four years and see average viewership grown of 46 percent, with last year’s event seen by 3 million viewers (there were 1.5 million in 2007). Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen will continue to call it, with reporter Bob Roll.

== Mike Tirico, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are on ESPN’s coverage of the Lakers’ game at Denver (tonight, 7:30 p.m.)

== HBO’s next “Real Sports” (Tuesday, 10 a.m.) includes two media-related pieces: Host Bryant Gumbel feels the need to go one-on-one with Troy Aikman, who will be Joe Buck’s game analyst on Super Bowl XVL, and Mary Carillo does a look at how Peter King does his NFL insider job for Sports Illustrated and the “Monday Morning Quarterback” column.

== There’s also news about the CBS/Turner combo package on the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament (linked here), how KABC (790) DodgerTalk co-host Ken Levine will return to call some Seattle Mariners games this season (linked here), how ESPN has embedded itself into the University of Texas (linked here), and what alternative USC might have had instead of re-upping its radio deal with KSPN (710) (linked here).

AND FINALLY:

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== Rob Stone and Randy Pedersen are back to call the Pro Bowling Association’s Tournament of Champions final round live on ABC (Saturday, Channel 7, 11:30 a.m.), with Kelly Kulick, the first woman to ever win a PBA Tour event, back to defend her title.

Included in the telecast: The band “Bowling for Soup” will also perform their new single, “Saturday Night,” from the lanes. It definitely beat the “Bay City Rollers” version of a song with a similar title.

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Under all that dirt, the Dodger Stadium infield and outfield exists … just don’t try to field any grounders over the next month

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The latest look at how Dodger Stadium is transforming from a world-class baseball facility into a scatter-dirt motocross track for the first time in its 49-year history:

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After the 550 dump-truck loads of dirt (a 60/40 combination of clay and sand mix) were hauled between midnight and 6 a.m. up the Harbor Freeway earlier in the week from three job sites in Carson, the motocross track crew followed a plan that was supervised by Dodger Stadium head groundskeeper Eric Hansen.

The first thing to note: Don’t put any part of the track where he set that orange cone. That’s the pitcher’s mound. And he’d really like to not have to rebuild it again.

“I hope not to see any Bobcats near that cone,” Hansen said.

“I really don’t worry (that things will be destroyed by the track), but it’s just the nature of the business. My heartbeat went up a bit when I first saw all the dirt brought in. If I hadn’t seen it all before today, I might be more worried.

As for the keeping the pitcher’s mound intact, Hansen said that building a new one “sometimes just takes a couple of hours, but to do it right takes a few days to really shape it. In some baseball parks, the mound can be mechanically lowered and raised up. In others, there is water around it and it sort of floats in there.”

It’s not the first time he’s had to save the mound. Back when Dodger Stadium hosted a Rolling Stone concert, the stage set up in center field had a retractable element that allowed Mick Jagger and Keith Richard to move toward home plate.

“There were two channels built so the moveable stage went over the mound,” said Hansen.

Hansen said that his biggest concern is preserving the skin, or dirt part of the infield, so that chunks of rocks from the motocross dirt don’t get ground into it “and be contaminated by the rocks.”

“It’s funny how when the baseball field is there, we try to keep people off the grass as much as possible,” Hansen added. “Now ….”

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His voice kind of trailed off, knowing at what he was looking at, there was no going back.

It took 2 1/2 days to built the motocross track, starting Monday morning at 8 a.m., said Dave Prater, the director of the Supercross Tour. It started with a layer of plastic tarp over the field, followed by plywood, then gravel, then dirt.

“The field is actually intact under it all,” said Prater. “But a month from now, it’ll all be gone.”

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His reference is to the fact that Dodger Stadium will also host a Monster Truck event in mid-February. After this Supercross event, the dirt piles will be moved around and reshaped, then finally hauled away and the new sod put into place hopefully in time for the Dodgers’ first visit late in March for a couple of exhibition games prior to the March 31 season opener against the Giants.

Part of the deal to have the dirt put in for the two events is that the promoters will pay for the stadium to be resodded in time for the baseball season to start.

But if there was a game to be played today, this is the view Vin Scully would have from his TV booth seat:

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Coming Friday: KCAL’s Jaime Maggio brings the goods

Hans Gutknecht/Daily News staff photographer

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“She only has one flaw,” KCAL Channel 9 sports anchor John Ireland says of Jaime Maggio, the feature subject of Friday’s media column to go with the annual best-and-worst list of the L.A sports anchors, reporters and talent.

“We share a desk at KCBS/KCAL,” Ireland continued, “and she has showered our desk with N.Y. Giants and Yankees stuff. She is more in need of Team LA gift card than anybody in town — I think I’m getting her one for her birthday.”

Born in New York and raised on Long Island until she moved to Rancho Palos Verdes at age 14, Maggio has been with KCAL since May on both the weekend “Sports Central” shows and the weeknight versions, either anchoring alone or with Gary Miller. She’s also been a regular on LTV, the Lakers pre- and post-game shows, as well as the Dodgers pre-game shows.

Find out more about her, and how she made her way into the latest Top 10 list.

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Somehow, Conan O’Brien, President Obama and Ashley Judd were left out of the TNT/CBS lovefest for the upcoming NCAA Tournament hoop convergence

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True enough, CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV will combine forces (and financial investments) to cover the newly somewhat reshaped NCAA 67-game men’s basketball tournament, starting in a couple of months. It also includes by way of a mix and match of broadcasters using an older, less known version of the pythagorean therum that will result in — ta da — an NCAA finals three-booth team on Monday, April 4 of Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr.

Which now makes sense seeing how Kerr has latched onto as many college basketball game broadcasts as he can — like FSN’s recent UCLA-USC contest?

This will be year one of a 14-year agreement between the NCAA, CBS and Turner. Anything to soften the blow of having Kellogg on board in a game of importance will be welcome — and we almost see this as kind of a Joe Morgan effect, putting someone else in as a second analyst who’ll point out the many things that Morgan misses during the game because of a ridiculous set of simplistic verbs and adjectives available to convey to the smarter viewing audience what’s going on.

Highlights on how the rest unfolds:

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== When the tournament starts on Tuesday, March 15, Nantz, Kellogg and Kerr (with Tracy Wolfson as the reporter) on truTV, if you can find it.

== Gus Johnson and Len Elmore, with courtsider outsider Craig Sager, will call the first four games on Wednesday, March 16, on truTV.

== There will be two studios, one in New York with Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson, with Charles Barkley, Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith (plus Reggie Miller and Seth Davis starting the second week). The other, in Atlanta, has Matt Winer with Davis and Steve Smith. On Tuesday’s first four games: Gumbel, Johnson, Barkley, Anthony and Kenny Smith. On Wednesday: Winer, Steve Smith and Davis.

== The broadcast pecking order for the second and third rounds:
Nantz-Kellogg
Marv Albert-Steve Kerr
Verne Lundquist-Bill Raftery
Johnson-Elmore
Kevin Harlan-Reggie Miller-Dan Bonner
Ian Eagle-Jim Spanarkel
Tim Brando-Mike Gminski
Spero Dedes-Bob Wenzel
Courtside reporters: Wolfson, Sager, Lesley Visser, David Aldridge, Sam Ryan and Marty Snider.

Jump ball.

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Ken Levine among group of broadcasters who’ll call Seattle Mariners games this season

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Ken Levine, the KABC-AM (790) DodgerTalk co-host who called games for the Seattle Mariners from 1992-95, is one of several broadcasters named today to help replace the late Dave Niehaus for the 2011 season.

“I’m not sure yet how this effects DodgerTalk but I’m hoping it can all work out,” Levine said. “I’m very excited to be back in the booth.”

The team said that Dave Sims and Mike Blowers will be the TV duo for nearly all games.

Rick Rizzs will do play-by-play in the radio booth and will be joined throughout the season by Levine, Ron Fairly, Ken Wilson, Dave Valle and Dan Wilson.

Fairly, the former Dodgers first baseman out of USC, worked as a Mariners broadcaster from 1993-2006 and filled in for Niehaus during one series last season.

Dan Wilson, a former Mariners catcher, did games in the booth and studio analysis. Ken Wilson, a former Angels play-by-play man, was Niehaus’ original partner, working with him from 1977-82.

Valle, another former Mariners catcher, has done color commentary in recent years.

Niehaus, who called Angels games with Dick Enberg in the 1970s, died Nov. 10 at the age of 75, the team’s Hall of Fame broadcaster since it’s first expansion year in 1977.

Levine, who turns 61 this Valentine’s Day, is a longtime TV writer, director and producer in Hollywood, working such shows as “M*A*S*H,” “Cheers,” “Frasier,” “The Simpsons,” “Wings,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Becker” and “Dharma and Greg” with writing partner David Isaacs. Levine also co-wrote the 1985 movie “Volunteers” with Tom Hanks and John Candy.

A Top 40 radio disc jockey in the 1970s, Levine always had the urge to call baseball games, he stepped away from his Hollywood jobs and worked in the minor-leagues as a play-by-play man before finally landing jobs with the Baltimore Orioles, Mariners and San Diego Padres.

In 1993, Levine wrote a book, “It’s Gone!… No, Wait a Minute . .: Talking My Way into the Big Leagues at 40″ about his only year with the Orioles 20 years ago.

Two springs ago, Levine was among a half dozen to do play-by-play on Dodgers exhibition games before the job of doing 40 road games for KCAL Channel 9 and Prime Ticket was given to Eric Collins.

== Levine’s farewell to Niehaus on his blog last November (linked here)

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