WEIR(D) FITS THE BILL FOR KABC.
Even new KABC Channel 7 sportscaster Bill Weir admits it's a career decision that's kind of weird.
Weir left sports-crazy Chicago to do the same thing in Los Angeles which - you gotta admit it - isn't the easiest market for sports.
``The way they see it in Chicago,'' said Weir, a self-admitted wisenheimer, ``is it's like going to the Amish Country to do technology reporting.''
But like many who gravitate to Hollywoodland, they have ulterior motives.
The 31-year-old Pepperdine grad, who auditioned to replace former ESPN-er Craig Kilborn as the host of ``The Daily Show'' on Comedy Central and as an off-beat reporter for ABC's ``Good Morning America,'' left the Windy City for Southern California four months ago because he has a plan.
He just can't tell you about it. Yet.
An agreement with ABC to develop his own comedy/talk show is what eventually lured Weir out West and allowed the station to let go of both Todd Donoho and Rick Lozano last September.
In a somewhat awkward transition, neither Donoho nor Lozano's contract was renewed after long runs at the station. Weir stepped in for Donoho in midstream as host of ``Monday Night Live!'' and has been readjusting to the California winter - and sportscast content - ever since.
``In Chicago, it was easy - Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks,'' said Weir, born in Milwaukee and basically a Midwestern kid until he was attracted to Malibu for his college education. ``Here, I've still got to ask the producer, `Can we lead the sportscast with highlights from the Trojans' basketball game? We can't? OK.''
He graduated from Pepperdine with degrees in both journalism and creative writing and did an internship with KNBC Channel 4's Fred Roggin, which should set off the alarms right there. Weir's intention was to end up as the smartly dressed smart-aleck TV sportscaster that he's become today.
``I figured that was the best way to goof off for a living,'' he said.
Except on the way to achieving that goal, he got a taste of ad-lib comedy and hasn't been able to get rid of it.
After stops in Austin, Minn., and Green Bay, Wis., he went to WGN in Chicago as the No. 3 sportscaster and became part of a popular and irreverent three-hour morning newscast, much like KTLA's ``Morning News'' show. He'd be the ad-lib guy with the mic who'd go out to O'Hare Airport and try to start a touch football game in the middle of a terminal.
While other job offers were coming in, the KABC opportunity came open, although he said he had no plans to take it. Until the development deal was worked in.
So if it appears he's trying out new material on the 4, 5 and 11 o'clock news during his three-minute crammed-in sports segments, he probably is. This is a guy likely to watch ``Larry Sanders'' over Barry Sanders.
``I do think this city fits my style because sports isn't life and death here,'' said Weir. ``People see it for the entertainment value that it is.''
Of course, not everyone's going to get his ``South Park'' humor, a problem someone like Keith Olbermann had at KTLA and KCBS until he took his act nationally.
A perceived gay-bashing reference to a clip Weir had about a guy who set himself on fire and dived into a pool - ``Here's a flaming high-diver, and it has nothing to do with Greg Louganis,'' Weir said over the tape - caught him more flack than he expected.
But taken out of the context of the broadcast, it looks worse on paper than on TV.
``You'd think in L.A. they wouldn't be as sensitive to whatever you throw out there, but some are,'' said Weir. ``I guess it's a way to find the instant focus group to see who's watching. People who get it will get it, and one out of 10 will call to complain.
``I want to be loose and unpredictable. If they know you're just going to come out and do the scores, they have no incentive to watch.''
So go figure taste.
``Our target audience,'' says KABC Channel 7 sportscaster Bill Weir, ``is the housewife in the Antelope Valley who doesn't know if the Sabres are a hockey team or . . .''
OK, we get the idea. Whether we agree with that news judgment or not, that's the dominant demographic for L.A. ``news'' casts. Just look at the content. And that's why sportscasters, weathermen and news anchors get paid so much.
(Aside: The National Association of Broadcasters recently released a report that sportscasters in the top 10 TV markets were paid an annual average of $247,086, which, in L.A., seems a bit conservative).
This also gave us the idea this year of how to finally sort out this field.
``Q scores'' are a service that stations can use to help determine how popular their talent is in the marketplace. It's a fairly simple process. But to obtain the information from the official ``Q scores'' service would cost us thousands of dollars we don't care to spend.
But using the ``Q scores'' survey framework, we've decided to let you determine Daily News Q-T factor for our local sportscasters.
The ground rules: 1) Only women may answer this survey, 2) The only qualification of the Q-T factor is whether the sportscaster is a cutie, on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the highest.
Here is a list of the TV sportscasters in Los Angeles you may have seen. We would like your overall opinion of each of the personalities. Under the ``Your Opinion,'' write 1 if the personality is one of your favorites; 2 if he's very good; 3 if he's good; 4 if he's fair; 5 if he's poor and ``N'' if it's someone you have never seen before.
Results will be published at a future date.
Sportscaster Your Opinion
Ed Arnold, KTLA-Channel 5
Carlos Del Valle, KNBC-Channel 4
Rob Fukuzaki, KABC-Channel 7
Rick Garcia, KTTV-Channel 11
Steve Hartman, KCBS-Channel 2
Tony Hernandez, KTLA-Channel 5
Jim Hill, KCBS-Channel 2
Randy Kerdoon, KTTV-Channel 11
Bret Lewis, KCBS-Channel 2
Rory Markas, KTTV-Channel 11
Fred Roggin, KNBC-Channel 4
Kenny Sargent, KCOP-Channel 13
Newy Scruggs, KCOP-Channel 13
Bill Weir, KABC-Channel 7
And now, for the guys only:
Lisa Guerrero, KCBS-Channel 2
Submit ballots to Tom Hoffarth, c/o Los Angeles Daily News sports, P.O. Box 4200, Woodland Hills, CA 91365-4200 or by e-mail at sptmediaaol.com.
- Tom Hoffarth
PHOTO (Color) KABC sportscaster Bill Weir, who graduated from Pepperdine, has plans for a talk show.
Michael Owen Baker/Daily News
BOX: TELEVISION SPORTSCASTERS (see text)