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Sports Babe planning long vacation to regroup


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001

Her plan this week was to cross Tampa Bay to get to the Super Bowl. Instead Nanci Donnellan, aka the Fabulous Sports Babe, ended up flying over the Pacific Ocean -- with her future as a radio host in doubt.

Donnellan's national show was canceled Friday when Sports Fan Radio Network pulled the plug unexpectedly. Her Super Bowl credentials still await her, but she is spending the week, and probably well beyond that, in Hawaii.

"The timing of it was the one thing that threw me in the beginning, because it's embarrassing," said Craig Fenech, Donnellan's agent. "They said, 'Look, we debated about that, but what's the point of putting her up there ... and canning her the next week?' "

A Pinellas County resident, Donnellan used WQYK-AM 1010's studios to produce her show for more than a year. Three producers also lost their jobs, said WQYK program director Jeff Ryan.

Fenech explained the decision: "Essentially what it came down to is, in national sports-talk radio at midday, it's a two-horse race (ESPN and Fox). She was riding the third horse."

Fenech said Sports Fan Radio Network will not fill her 10 a.m.-1 p.m. slot. SFRN officials, in town this week, could not be found for comment. Ryan guessed Donnellan ultimately will find another network.

"Her state of mind was terrific," Ryan said. "She was going to head on over to Hawaii. She was thinking about going to Greece -- take a couple of months to travel ... figure out what she was going to do."

Ryan's state of mind is not so terrific -- he's left with a three-hour hole in his programming during Super Bowl week. Ch. 10's Al Keck filled in Monday, Ryan did Tuesday, and Keck will finish the week. Ryan said he will set up a temporary host for when he goes on vacation, then probably hire someone for a local show.

The good news -- kind of -- is that resumes and business cards are falling into his lap, courtesy of out-of-towners set up this week on the Super Bowl's Radio Row at the Tampa Convention Center.

NOT BACKING DOWN: WDAE-AM 620 host Steve Duemig started his show Wednesday by saying he stands by his story that the Bucs will be sold to Eddie DeBartolo within weeks after the Super Bowl.

"If by some miracle this never came to pass, my credibility would take a hit, no question about it. ... (But) it wouldn't be the first time a reporter got a story wrong," Duemig said on the air. "But I am not wrong. I am not backing down."

Executive vice presidents Joel and Ed Glazer, along with DeBartolo, vehemently denied rumors fueled by the reports.

"(For) Ed Glazer to get in the newspaper and call it a calculated lie? I hope he's got good attorneys," Duemig said.

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