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Off to the Show

Brett Dolan finally got the call.

Bull Durham may be a movie about baseball players trying to make their mark in the big leagues, but broadcasters pursue the dream as well. After a dozen years with two minor league programs, including six years with the Tucson Sidewinders, Dolan landed a gig in the bigs. He will be part of a three-man crew covering the Houston Astros.

"Milo Hamilton, who has been doing this for 52 years, decided not to travel this year, so Dave Raymond and myself will do the road games this year," Dolan said. "One series, he'll be the lead, doing five or six innings, and the next series, I'll be doing the lead. We'll do that accordingly. At home, we'll alternate with Milo. I'll probably do play-by-play in about three-quarters of the 162 games."

Dolan began his broadcast career as an announcer for Division III college basketball in Wisconsin before landing a position as the No. 2 announcer for the Iowa Cubs. He arrived in Tucson six seasons ago and is now the latest to use the Old Pueblo as a steppingstone to a major league career.

"It's been an amazing run," Dolan said. "You know how tough it is and how few minor league guys get a crack, and it seems like Tucson guys have the magic dust and the potion, and all the stars align. That's one of the things that was attractive to me when I came here six years ago. I was just hoping I could continue that run and not end the streak."

The Astros job was the latest in a string of close calls. Dolan had made the final cut in past interviews only to come up short. Naturally, that created its fair share of self-doubt.

"I don't think it's an exaggeration to say (I thought about quitting broadcasting) almost on a daily basis," Dolan said. "They say baseball is such a negative game and a game of failure when you break down what a successful hitter is. There are so many guys in the minors who are good broadcasters, and each and every year, you see one or two openings, and sometimes in the majors, they recycle announcers, or maybe hire a player instead of minor-league guys. As we started to put together a press release on this, it was 1997 since someone came into the PCL to the majors. It's just crazy to think it's been that long since this 16-team league has been able to crank out a major league announcer. It's about survival. There's no doubt you spend a lot of time thinking about Plan B."

As Dolan made the jump, it didn't take long for other announcers to pursue the opening available within the Sidewinders organization.

"I'd say about 95 percent of the calls coming in were from people wondering where they could send tapes," Dolan said of the day the Astros officially announced his hiring. "That was me five or six years ago getting on the phone, sending out the resume and hopefully trying to move out."

But the Diamondbacks' AAA affiliate acted quickly in naming its successor. My KCUB colleague Ryan Radtke, who worked alongside Dolan for three seasons, will now occupy the No. 1 chair.

"I think he's somebody who can find his way to the majors quicker than me," Dolan said.

Possibly one of the most gifted sports talents to pass through this market in years, Radtke will remain on the Host Communications broadcast team for UA football and men's basketball games. He handles pregame and halftime responsibilities. However, Radtke will relinquish his afternoon talk show on KCUB 1290 AM (The Source) effective Jan. 16. The Source has yet to announce how it will fill that time slot.


END OF THE 'APOCALYPSE'

Another sports-talk show will call it quits in January. Brian Baltosiewich has announced he will discontinue Sports Apocalypse, broadcast weekly on azstarnet.com

"I had a great time. I give a lot of credit to the folks at Starnet, who never even flinched when I pitched the idea to them," Baltosiewich said. "It was a good run. I don't have the time to devote to it like I would like, which is the reason for pulling the plug now."

Baltosiewich says listenership averaged between 500 and 1,000 per online broadcast. Now a common occurrence, online broadcasting was a fairly new phenomenon when Baltosiewich began his undertaking.

Baltosiewich will continue broadcast duties for the Arizona Icecats and Arizona Heat.


THE END OF ACCURACY?

Clear: Gone.

Accurate: Gone.

To the Point: Gone.

KGUN Channel 9 has scrapped its familiar Clear/Accurate/To the Point marketing campaign. While monikers come and go, it may be the first significant change as the Journal Broadcast Group begins to exert its influence on its latest television acquisition.

Of the three major local news players, KGUN probably delivers the cleanest on-air product. For example, during packaged news reports, some anchors will introduce a story, let the report conclude and move to the next story. KGUN will introduce, let the story conclude and return to the same anchor with a small wrap before progressing to the next story. This makes for a blocky, but more-structured appearance.

However, KGUN is not afraid to tweak with the formula. During its 5 and 6 p.m. weekday newscasts, it has pushed weather into the second block. Weather is a third-block staple.

On UA basketball game day, the sportscaster will occupy a two-minute segment in the first block. The other stations aren't as consistent during regular-season games. KGUN does it without fail.

Other gimmicks, like the Fact Check segment, or the "To Be Clear" verbal emphasis on news stories, seemed to be more short-lived experiments.

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