Category Archives: Media

Bye now! RIP Ken Beatrice

Another voice from Washington’s broadcast past went silent on Sunday with the death of Ken Beatrice. From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, Beatrice’s SportsCall was heard on WMAL-AM (then a real local radio station and not partisan ramblings) when it wasn’t pre-empted by Ron Weber calling the Washington Capitals or some other game. I listened to Beatrice many times coming back from football or basketball practice — I can see the old AM radio in my dad’s Chevy Nova with the orange line on the left side of the dial. I would also listen to Beatrice on my clock radio, despite that I’d wind up having Harden & Weaver wake me up the next morning.

Somebody uploaded a call to Beatrice about the Phoenix Cardinals on youtube:

FROM 2011: What Ken Beatrice has been up to

Beatrice had guests on occasion, but as he frequently reminded us “SportsCall is your show!” with discussions with listeners being the primary content. He was patient with all callers, including children. I called in a few times and so did my brother. Most calls began with “YOUR NEXT!” and ended with “BYE NOW” in Beatrice’s thick Boston accent. He had other sayings that inspired much affectionate parody, (especially by Mike O’Meara of the Don & Mike Show):

“If it’s and buts were candy and nuts, oh what a party we’d have”

“God love you, you keep those phones lit up every night…”

“FOOOOOUUUUURRRR THREE-TWO, DOUBLE-U EM A EL – don’t forget to be a TWO OH TWO in front of it to keep the phone company happy”

“The people who are to hockey games for the fights are the same people who go to auto races for the crashes”

“I simply don’t have the resources to scout high school sports”

Some of Beatrice’s other sayings were tied to his testimonial advertising for local Arby’s franchiser Bernie Streeter (CityPaper) perhaps one of the more successful examples local advertising in DC radio history.

“I love Arby’s milkshakes but on account of a heart attack, I had to limit myself to one or two a month.”

“My favorite is Jamocha!”

and of course…

“curly fries, now I don’t eat the curly fries, but I’m told they are very good.”

SportsCall was decidedly unpretentious with simple production values and the only “music” I recall being the sound touch-tone telephone buttons forming notes that sounded like W M A L.

Not content with just having a 3 or 4 hour show, Beatrice reminded viewers that they could “CALL ME IN MY OFFICE” during the afternoon if they had a question, giving out his office number regularly.

Beatrice had his critics though, notably Tony Kornheiser (CityPaper), then a reporter at The Post, who uncovered some exaggerations by Beatrice in a hatchet job. Beatrice went off the air until public support convinced him to accept WMAL’s offer to come back.

In 1995, WMAL let Beatrice go, but he was picked up by sports station WTEM, lasting another five years. He retired to the Warrenton area and served as a lector in Catholic churches – Beatrice was profiled by the Arlington Catholic Herald in 2011

Here are videos of him discussing his career in 2012 with Lee Shephard and Chuck Langdon:

Beatrice also did pre & post-game coverage of the Redskins when they were broadcast on WMAL. Once the team bolted for WTEM, WMAL began it’s decline from an important DC radio station to it’s current situation.

Once the DC media gets around to posting obits about Beatrice, I’ll add them here.

MORE

Steve Repsher wrote a tribute on DC Sports Bog

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Cut the cord? Not until the 2030s, Capitals, Wizards fans; MASN scores a victory against Nats, fans

Ted Leonsis, majority owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment (the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and Verizon Center) will apparently sign a deal with Comcast that keeps his teams on CSN-Mid Atlantic through 2032, according to Sports Business Journal.

As part of the deal, Leonsis gets a third of the network. He had created “Monumental Network” that broadcast video content related to his teams and seemingly to get CSN concerned he’d start his own RSN. It looks like it worked.

I speculated that Leonsis could be the big winner in the Nationals-MASN/Angelos/Orioles dispute since having winter sports programming would seemingly be desirable for either MASN or CSN. John Ourand, the SBJ article’s author and avowed Baltimore Orioles fanboy, says that MASN was never that interested.

As for MASN and Angelos, they won in court last week (The Post) as their battle against the Nats and Washingtonians continues. MASN/Angelos still haven’t increased their payment to the Nats over broadcast rights that were due in 2012. The Orioles would get the same. We can only hope when new values are set, they come in even higher because all that this does is make MLB have to restart the process which could push the values higher. It’s an odd tactic for them and probably based only in spite rather than sensible business practices because why wouldn’t you want to have two more major teams with roughly 170 available games, most of which are not during baseball season? I guess that’s the Oriole Way at work – bad people making bad decisions.

I’m pleased that Leonsis, who may to try to use Baltimore as leverage against DC for upgrades/new arena in the 2020s, didn’t get in bed with Angelos, but disappointed that this likely means I’ll need to stick with cable if I want to watch the Caps and Wiz.

More on the Nats tomorrow…

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gannett-headquarters-in-autumn-by-wfyurasko

Gannett thinking of selling Tysons headquarters again

Gannett exploring sale of Tysons headquartersThe Post
My former employer of many years, Gannett Co. Inc. and publisher of USA Today is thinking of selling its Tysons (McLean mailing address) headquarters again. This seems to come up at least once a year, but now it’s official from the CEO’s mouth. They simply do not need all the office space with a very different business model than when the building was designed in the 1990s. The company splitting in two – broadcast/digital and newspapers (with none of the company debt) as well.

The building location could be a bit of a disadvantage — while Tysons is seeing a lot of new construction, most of it is right along the Silver Line and 7950 Jones Branch Drive isn’t within a half-mile of a station. The World Bank was rumored to be interested at one point, but that fizzled. ExxonMobil and SAIC is also looking to unload their Fairfax County campuses. I’m not sure the amenities like a walking path around a large stormwater retention pond are that big of a selling point. I do miss “walk time” with my former colleagues though.

As for a new location, the opportunity to move back to Arlington is there since that office market is depressed right now. For about 19 years, USA Today was headquartered at 1000 Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn and Gannett spent 15 years next door in the twin tower at 1100. The tallest building in that skyline is vacant (Wash. Biz Journal) and probably wouldn’t mind a big brand name tenant. The current Corporate Executive Board building will also be vacated when that organization moves into a new tower at the site of the old Orleans House.

It seemed like half my colleagues lived in Ashburn so they might have a retention problem with a move like that, though the Silver Line might be finished out that way by then. Of course, selling the current Gannett/USA Today building and then leasing space could be an option. I’m just a spectator on this one, but had I still been with Gannett I’d have been hoping for move.

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Nats: Angelos/Orioles delay MASN trial into 2015

The Washington Nationals grievances against Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles will have to wait until March to get addressed in court, according to a report from The PostMASN hearing pushed to March after discovery dispute entangles Commissioner Rob Manfred

The legal saga between the Nationals and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network will drag for months longer than previously expected after a skirmish over discovery bumped a pivotal trial date from December to March and entangled incoming commissioner Rob Manfred. The delay ensures the Nationals will not receive a potential financial windfall until after this offseason.

We won’t know until March at the earliest whether there is anything to this and if there is, whether it was deliberate incompetence by MLB or just the standard variety. Nonetheless, it’s bad news for the Nats, who will continue to be low-balled on television revenue.

It’s probably also a loss for the Orioles franchise and their fans.

The corrupt bargain MLB imposed on the Nats and their fans states that both franchises receive the same broadcast fees, so the business side of the Baltimore franchise is also being short-changed. Angelos owns roughly 80% of MASN, so he pockets most of the profits personally. Now, perhaps there is some trickle-down from him, but that seems rather unlikely. Avarice and spite are his ethos, though I cannot say which is stronger.

Should the Nats ultimately prevail in this round, it will not be much of a victory. To summarize, here is how the arrangement has worked using the bully in the cafeteria model.

In 2004, the Orioles were the bully who wasn’t even letting the Nats into the school cafeteria. In 2005, the bully grudgingly acquiesced to let the Nats in, but they weren’t allowed to sit at a table. At the end of 2006, the bully let the Nats have some table scraps and a chair and acted like he was doing the Nats a favor. The principal went along with it and told the Nats they should be thankful. In 2012, the principal thought that maybe the Nats deserved a seat and some more lunch, but wouldn’t say so directly, appointing three other students to make the decision. The bully did not accept the decision and was willing to have a smaller lunch, just so that the Nats would have a smaller lunch too. The principal retired, leaving behind the vice principal who may have not followed school policy.

It’s a mess and it puts the Nats in a tougher spot moving forward, as illustrated in last week’s WTOP story The Nationals’ financial dilemma. The author, sports editor Noah Frank, formerly worked for the Nats and thus has more of an insider understanding and hometown bias which I welcome given the Baltimore bias much of the DC sports media.

Overall, the Nats are losing this war and the Lerner family is just battling to improve the terms of the occupation.

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