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It's Tele-vision

Sports talk show needs more visuals

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WFNZ-AM's Mark Packer debuted his new TV show, The Southern Fried Sports Show on WTVI April 27. It co-stars another sports media guy with opinions, namely John Kilgo. We always root for new local shows, and WTVI always needs more of them, but this one seems an odd fit for a PBS station's Sundays at noon. Maybe once the NFL starts?The concept appears to be bringing Packer's Primetime radio show to television, paring down his weekly cast of sportswriters to just him and Kilgo, facing one another at a round table on a set that depicts their separate "offices" in a generic room. Packer wears jeans and a sweatshirt; Kilgo's in a coat and tie. New school vs. old school.

A nifty HDTV with a too-small-to-read show logo is in the center, and it takes off from there. In the first episode, the pair segued from topic to topic, ranging from the Masters to Matt Doherty's firing at UNC. The discussion was often lively, but two things were clear: the show desperately needed some visual breaks (not commercial ones -- it is PBS) to enhance what turned out to be a radio show on TV.

The strength of the show is the rapport and opinions offered up by Packer and Kilgo. The problem is, it's all talking heads with no visual interest, with video clips or soundbites sorely needed to set up and transition the change in topics. Sports TV is about pace and zip, with a couple of chunks of video thrown in to illustrate the points being made.

Factoid graphics were informative, but in TV these days, you need more than two guys in chairs talking. Producers should take a closer look at current network sports talk shows like The Greatest Damn Sports Show Period and Pardon the Interruption.

The luckiest woman in Charlotte lately is Julie Hall, also known as "She Who Hiked With Oprah." The April 24 episode of Oprah featured amazing tales of people who had tremendous weight losses, and Hall was one of them. A true Weight Watchers success story, Hall began her program weighing over 400 pounds, and has lost over 240 pounds to date.After she sent a letter to the talk show about her story, producers flew her to a California Ranch, gave her a makeover, and promised a "guide" to take her hiking. When she answered her hotel room door, none other than Oprah was the guide. Video then showed the two chatting and walking through the hills.

Hall also appeared in the studio with Oprah, complete with a new designer outfit. Friends and family watched the show at the Harris YMCA, where Hall works out.

Another jaw-dropper on the show was a man who had lost over 300 pounds, who was rewarded with his dream car: a $61,000 Porsche.

Jaws were also probably dropping at WSOC-TV, which carries the show. As soon as the feature on Hall began on Oprah, ABC News interrupted with a special report about the arrest of a top Iraqi bad guy. It didn't last too long, but the sighs of relief on North Tryon could be heard all across town.

From the "enquiring minds wanna know" department, several readers have asked whether it's true that KISS 95.1 has hired an openly gay personality for its morning show, "Ace and T.J."Yes, there is a gay man appearing on the show occasionally, although he's not an employee, says show producer Pete Herrick, known as "Yankee Pete" on the show. Known as "The Boy," the man is gay, and a Charlotte resident who listeners first heard as part of the recent annual "Misfits" car trip.

"He's was so much fun on that, and so flamboyant, that people have asked us about him a lot," Herrick says. "We've gotten positive e-mail from our listeners," he added. Any plans to make "The Boy" a regular?

Herrick says no, but "We'll hear from him occasionally, or whenever he wakes up on our (Ace & T.J.'s studio) couch."

MEDIA HAPPENINGS WCNC-TV has won three regional Edward R. Murrow Awards -- the most in the five-state region -- from the Radio Television News Directors Association. The awards are for best newscast, use of video, and overall excellence. . .Postponed by the war, WFAE-FM's spring membership drive is underway until May 8. The goal, as we all know from years of switching stations during public beg-athons, is to pay for NPR programming for you, the loyal home listener. . .Clarification: In our last column we mentioned Panthervision, which is the NFL team's stadium video operation. Kyle Ritchie honchos that team. . .An important cog in the CL wheel is leaving. This very paper's associate editor, Ann Wicker, leaves CL on May 16 after many howling moons to pursue an MFA in creative writing at Queens University. Perhaps there's a book we'll see in the future? Ann, thanks for your creativity, humor, and ear over the years, since I've bent it a time or two. You'll be missed, and the pizza is on me. Stay tuned. . .

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