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Bucs games on Spanish radio

Published Sep. 29, 2005

There's more to Mega Communications than singer Ricky Martin.

The Spanish-language broadcaster continues to bolster its programing with sports, and the Bucs are the latest addition.

The team announced Thursday that it has signed a four-year deal with Mega (96.1 FM and 820 AM). The partnership is between the Bucs, Mega, CBS Radio and CBS-owned WQYK-FM 99.5, which holds the English and Spanish broadcast rights to Bucs games.

With the deal, Tampa Bay becomes the only U.S. market where NFL football will be broadcast in English and Spanish on the FM dial.

"Roughly 1 percent of the total roster of the NFL are in fact Hispanic football players," said Josh Mednick, Mega general manager for Tampa Bay. "Here with the Buccaneers, we're very happy to have two starting NFL players who happen to be of Hispanic origin or descent. Jorge Diaz and Martin Gramatica represent one-fourth of the entire Hispanic roster in the NFL.

"We're particularly excited to have resources like that available to us for post-game comments, for ancillary programing and an opportunity to create some outreach into the Hispanic community."

Neil Fernandez, afternoon drive host of Mega, will handle play-by-play duties. Mike Chavez, who has played for several semi-pro teams, will serve as the color analyst.

Soccer, boxing and baseball are among the most popular sports with Hispanics, but Fernandez said there is a Spanish-speaking audience interested in "American football."

"I have received a lot of phone calls asking about the (Bucs) programing," Fernandez said. "There's a lot of excitement in the community. Especially among the young population in the Hispanic community, there are a lot of fanatics for American football."

THREE'S A CROWD?: Gene Deckerhoff, Tom Korun and Scot Brantley are going to need the precision of the Blue Angels, the cohesiveness of an infantry unit and the diplomacy of a U.N. ambassador.

If that sounds like a daunting task, well . . . it is for the Bucs new broadcasting team that debuts Saturday on WQYK (FM 99.5 and AM 1010). Three-man broadcast teams always have a challenge, and it is a greater task on radio because the listener needs to be hear more about what's happening on the field than a television viewer does.

Dan Dierdorf, formerly of Monday Night Football, could talk over a basic off-tackle play, but on radio, the play-by-play man needs a greater command.

In large part, the analysts have to support the imagery. If Deckerhoff says, "Trent Dilfer drops to back to pass, looks across the middle and it's caught by Reidel Anthony," Korun and Brantley have to supplement the description.

Brantley may want to explain _ in 15 seconds or less _ why the formation helped Anthony get clear against the opponent's nickel defense. Or Korun may want to say that that is the eighth time the Bucs have thrown on first down _ in the remaining 15 seconds before Deckerhoff begins setting up the next play.

At the same time, the analysts will be expected to add light touches of entertainment.

Clearly, one radio analyst has to be concise in his comments. Two partners have to be extremely economical.

Deckerhoff said when a three-man booth smartly flows it is akin to the snap calls of the Motor Racing Network, where five announcers succinctly describe the action of a Winston Cup race at about the same speed the cars are traveling.

So, given the difficulty of two analysts, why did WQYK opt for Brantley and Korun? It's a good business decision, and anyone who says anything differently is just being silly.

It makes sense to heighten the profile of its afternoon drive team on the AM side, and the decision also puts the pair at every Bucs game and gives it an entry to get behind the scenes.

Plus, both bring something different to the table. But they have to realize if they bring too much, the table's going to collapse.

Can it be done? Yes, and in Deckerhoff, the Bucs radio network has a capable quarterback who may only need a little time to perfect the chemistry.

But both Brantley and Korun will have to balance the desire to entertain with the need to keep the focus on the game.

They may want to save the cologne jokes for the weekdays.