Airwaves: Olympic announcers earning gold

It is hard not to talk or write about the Olympics these days. NBC has hit a home run with its coverage so far, and our athletes have certainly done their part with great performances.

There really isn’t much else to chit-chat about. The NFL is in preseason mode and no one other than those in the Windy City or the Big Apple care about baseball. Some thoughts and comments on those humans bringing us the games from the sterile, lip-synced world of China:

Bob Costas

I read an article this week knocking NBC for having the knowledgeable, personable Costas as the host for the opening ceremony. You have got to be kidding me! His hosting was fantastic, as was his follow-up interview with Uncle George (aka the president). His quote of “retire the trophy” after the opening ceremony was up there with the great Al Michaels asking, “Do you believe in miracles?” An A-plus for Costas — and anyone who thinks differently is an idiot.

Matt Lauer

As mentioned before, he was the perfect partner for Costas. I love the fact that, at times during interviews and segments, he sat around in slacks, no tie and no socks. Since I don’t own a pair of socks, I love him. Kidding aside, he was and is the perfect balance between sports and the reality of life and our coexistence with China.

Note to NBC on the “Today” show: Who is dressing Meredith Vieira? She has worn awful outfits! She looks somewhere between an old Woodstock groupie and a person who has no modern-style concept. Lauer, Al Roker and Ann Curry all dress great, look good and are in tune with modern times. However, beyond the attire, the show has been marvelous.

Doug Collins

It is imperative to mention him because of the fact everyone watched last week’s U.S. men’s basketball game vs. China, and other than swimming and Big Mike, hoops has the interest of our viewing nation. Collins is a real pro when analyzing a basketball game. He is knowledgeable, opinionated, but not an over-the-top showman. He would not be a good candidate for a bunch of Ace Hardware commercials.

Beyond his understanding of the game, he is never hesitant to criticize icons including Kobe Bryant when it is deserved. His partner, Mike Breen, needs to chill and talk less and do a better job of setting up the ex-coach.

Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines

This pair has vaulted to prime time on the fins of Michael Phelps because of the great interest created during swimming events. Both have done a great job of bringing the viewers the facts and telling the story inside the Water Cube. I loved Gaines’ comments this week when asked about why the swimming times in these Olympics are so fast.

The fact that the pool itself is deeper than previous pools helps with times by limiting the size of waves that are created by the swimmers. Apparently, the deeper the pool, the less of a wave factor, thus better times. And I thought blocking and tackling was so simple.

Radnich is caller-friendly

Gary Radnich is the best. His Wednesday morning discussion on who is the best Olympic athlete ever was a fun listen.
There is no right or wrong here. The only right answer is that Gary is the best radio host anywhere at being caller-friendly and making listeners feel part of the show.

— Not a big fan of analyst Eric Davis on the 49ers’ preseason games. He looks and sounds very nervous. In addition, it is harder than most people think to talk about replays and use the telestrator.

— Although it seems like Jim Lampley has been involved with every Olympic telecast since 1950, he still does a very solid job as the daytime host. There aren’t many frills or false humor, just the facts.

— A most sincere congratulations to KGO-KSFO radio czar Mickey Lukkoff for his induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Gee, KGO has only been No. 1 in the Bay Area for 30 years!

This award is long overdue. Not only is this ex-Michigan Wolverine a great guy, but in his profession, there are very few equals. Throughout the years, he has built a great lineup of on-air personalities and a super-strong front-office staff led by his No. 2 man, Jack Swanson.

— I wonder what Katie Couric is thinking now that she is with CBS. She would have been in her element big-time in Beijing on the “Today” show. I guess $15 million a year is worth not covering the Olympics.

— The 15-hour TV delay to the West Coast has not been a big deal. How can you not get excited watching our men and women swim with the results they are achieving?

— Love this one: Team USA hoopster Carlos Boozer describing the fact the team had seen President Bush a few times while in Beijing: “That’s our homey. He’s on our side.”

Hey, Carlos, I know what you meant, but I know a few Dems and liberals who might not agree with you.

Who said it

Dan Hicks

“Phelps is Tiger Woods in a Speedo.” Hicks used this phrase when answering his NBC broadcast partner, Rowdy Gaines, who commented on Olympic star Michael Phelps saying, “The great ones find a way [to win].” Truer words were never spoken. Too bad for Phelps there is not a professional swimming league for him. Of course, megabucks from Madison Avenue await.

Sean McManus

“It’s all good news for the AFC and CBS,” the CBS president said when learning the indecisive one, Brett Favre, was traded to the AFC’s New York Jets. As we know, CBS is the lead network for the AFC. Niners and Raiders ticket executives were also pleased because the Jets play in Oakland and San Francisco this year. CBS will send the A-team of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz to the Jets’ opener vs. the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 7.

One to watch

LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES The future stars take center stage in Williamsport, Pa., with eight American teams and eight international squads battling for a true world championship. ESPN and ESPN2 have the action all week before KGO (Ch. 7) takes over for the title game Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

On target

ESPN made a great hire by adding Hannah Storm as a “SportsCenter” anchor. The former CBS “Early Show” host can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. She started the new gig Monday and her passion for sports comes across as genuine and sincere. Good hire for ESPN!


By the numbers

Construction costs for the Olympic facilities in Beijing: $40 billion

Cost of the Bird’s Nest stadium: $540 million

Cost of the Water Cube swimming facility: $140 million

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