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Camp at Disney? Get ready for all Bucs, all the time

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2002

Enjoy any Rays sports talk you hear today. Relish the highlights on local television sports updates. Because come Monday, it's all Bucs, all the time.

With camp opening Monday in Lake Buena Vista, every station in the Tampa Bay market will be devoting a large portion of its coverage to the Bucs. A Rays score might sneak in, possibly the daily domestic dispute, maybe some baseball strike news. But with camp 90 miles away a lot of effort is needed to cover the Bucs, so expect plenty of coverage.

With T.J. Rives (7-10 a.m.), Scot Brantley and Ronnie Lane (noon-3) setting up residence in Central Florida for the next month, WQYK-AM 1010 the Sports Team will be the only radio station broadcasting from camp because it has exclusive rights to Bucs broadcasts. Program director Jeff Ryan said the SportChix (10-noon) and the Replacements (3-7) will do an occasional show from camp.

"We will be the only station broadcasting live, even though others like to pretend they are," said Ryan, a reference to WDAE-AM 620, which may call in updates from camp but can't broadcast from there. Darek Sharp and Whitney Johnson will be at each practice and via cell phone keep 620 informed on updates, no different than last year.

The Sports Team also will broadcast all the preseason games and plans to cover a scrimmage before the first preseason game, going as far as to bring in play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff.

"We're treating it like a game," Ryan said.

The Sports Team also will do a daily camp wrapup from 5-6 p.m.

For Tampa Bay television stations, the plan is more dicey -- and more expensive, considering they will have to purchase satellite time (at about $50 for five minutes) to get their pictures back to their studios.

For years, all Ch. 8 had to do was practically walk across the street to camp.

"I think we had all grown into a comfort zone, especially for us," sports director Dave Cook said. "This will be a totally different atmosphere. It's going to be exciting, but there's going to be some headaches, and it's not going to be as easy as it was at Tampa."

Ch. 8 will air a 45-minute Sports Extra Sunday starting at 11:15 p.m., and will have extra midday coverage on its noon broadcast Monday.

Ch. 28 is airing a special edition of Bucs Zone at 11:30 p.m. Sunday.

Ch. 13, the only station renting a condo for camp, will expand Sunday's typical eight-minute sports report to around 20, and its weekly newscasts will see five- to six-minute increases in Bucs coverage. Sports director Chip Carter said he also will do sports live from camp on the station's 8:30 a.m. broadcasts.

Ch. 10 will do its usual 15-minute Sportsline with Dave Wirth on Sunday, but might expand that when the season begins. It also expects a few extra minutes on its nightly sportscasts beginning Monday, said sports director John Nugent.

All the local stations plan to rotate their anchors and reporters in Lake Buena Vista and will air live sportscasts during their afternoon and evening broadcasts.

MILES: On Saturday, NASCAR play-by-play announcer Allen Bestwick and analyst Benny Parsons will call the NetZero 250 Busch series race from Pikes Peak International Raceway near Colorado Springs at 3:30 p.m. on Ch. 8. They will then hop on a plane to join analyst Wally Dallenbach in Long Pond, Pa., for the Pennsylvania 500 at 12:30 Sunday on TNT.

In all, Bestwick will log 5,086 miles this weekend as he flies from his home in Rhode Island to Colorado Springs (1,960), Colorado Springs to Pocono (1,736), Pocono to Charlotte to tape Inside Winston Cup for Speed Channel on Monday (599) and home to Rhode Island (791) Monday night.

Parsons is only doing 4,105 miles this weekend.

AROUND THE DIAL: Dade City native Jim Courier, a four-time Grand Slam champion, is joining the USA Network team for the U.S. Open tennis championships. ... The Cowboys have been left off the Monday Night Football schedule, but they take center stage on HBO Wednesday as Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys debuts at 11 p.m. The series will run for six weeks. Last year, Hard Knocks followed Baltimore.

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