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Crippen gets more time to tell his tales
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published August 12, 2005
Years ago, when he was the face of sports broadcasting in Tampa Bay, it wasn't unusual for Dick Crippen to do a story on an area Olympic hopeful, or a feature on an area golfer trying to make it on the tour, or even publicize an area T-ball league.
Then, he had 30 seconds. Now, he has 30 minutes.
Though there hasn't been a lot of publicity for his new show on Catch-47, Bay Sports with Dick Crippen, he's hoping its recent success draws more viewers.
With a handful of episodes under their belt, he and his crew think they have a winner.
While ESPN and every other sports channel debate the merits of Terrell Owens' contract demands, Rafael Palmeiro's steroid trouble, the recent hockey lockout, athletes fighting with fans, player arrests, etc., Crippen is hoping to carve a niche in the Tampa Bay market with a blend of area sports and storytelling.
"I think the main thing is, we're trying to appeal to the sports fan but also to the nonsports fan," said Crippen, the former sports anchor at Channels 8 and 10. "It's a fun show in the fact that for the first time in 40 years I'm not limited to a three-minute broadcast. This lets us tell the story a little differently."
Bay Sports has done stories on record-setting Northeast freshman swimmer Megan Romano, former Clearwater golf standout Jenny Gleason and myriad area sports figures, including Bucs and Devil Rays.
The show airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays, then replays Friday and Sunday at the same time.
This week's show features some Florida State League umpires hoping to make it to the big leagues, an interview with longtime baseball man George Kissell and a review of Tony Hawk's recent show at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
Bay Sports may not be for everyone, but Crippen said the response has exceeded expectations. He added that Catch-47 will begin a promotional campaign next week aimed at letting more viewers know about the show.
"I've been amazed at the people who pick it up," he said. "We've gotten a lot of good reaction.
"We want to take the helmets off these people. The fun part of sports for me is knowing more about the person."
Crippen, who has worked for the Devil Rays as executive director of community development since 2000, was hesitant to do the show initially because he was unsure how it would play on cable.
But since 1965, when he took his first television job at Ch. 10 before the Bucs, Lightning and Devil Rays were in town, these have always been the stories he has liked to do.
In 1999, his contract wasn't renewed at Ch. 8 after 18 years. With local stations trending more toward cutting back on local sports reports, it was the perfect time to get out.
With Catch-47, it was a perfect time to get back in.