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Robitaille really isn't retiring, plans to continue on radio

By Alan Pergament

Buffalo Sabres analyst Mike Robitaille said a tearful goodbye at the end of his final MSG post-game show Sunday night.

But the 66-year-old Robitaille really isn't retiring in the traditional sense.

He might even be on his regular WGR talk show hour, "Roby Radio," at 8 Wednesday morning.

His tears Sunday night seemed to surprise him, though in retrospect they were totally understandable.

"I was signed by the New York Rangers when I was 14," said Robitaille. "When your whole life is hockey, it is not an easy thing to give up."

His tears might have confused some viewers into thinking Robitaille was giving up all his media ventures instead of just his regular MSG role.

In a telephone interview Monday night, Robitaille said he expects to do his WGR show for four or five Wednesdays during the National Hockey League playoffs, plans to be back on WGR at least for his hour show in the fall and might also appear on MSG next season on an emergency fill-in basis.

"This is a semi-retirement," said Robitaille. "I'll just have enough to do on TV to have a parking pass."

Continue reading "Robitaille really isn't retiring, plans to continue on radio" »

Media skepticism is wise in Trump interest in Bills

By Alan Pergament

Pardon my skepticism, but some elements of the local radio and TV media went way overboard Tuesday over the speculation that Donald Trump might buy or invest in the Buffalo Bills after the death of owner Ralph Wilson.

Of course, regular readers known I am skeptical of just about everything involving the billionaire blowhard.

I would gladly cheer if Trump saved Bills fans a lot of angst, bought the team and kept it here.

I just wish Channel 4 and Channel 2 had watched ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption" at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday before they carried their stories on Trump's interest based on his remarks on WBEN radio earlier in the day.

"PTI" co-hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon both agreed that Trump's purchase of the Bills would be "great" for the National Football League and for Buffalo. But they added the chances of it happening are minimal because he would need approval from other NFL owners who still hold a grudge against him for being a strong voice when he owned a team in the USFL and sued the NFL.

The local stations also would have been wise to have read a post by the Buffalo News' Tim Graham Tuesday that noted the USFL lawsuit and added that Trump's ownership of casinos would prohibit him from owning a team.

Those two nuggets belonged in any Trump story related to the Bills Tuesday because they added much needed perspective. The chance that Trump would give up a sure money-winner like owning casinos to take a financial risk and own the Bills is about equal to the chance -- well -- that he would run for governor of New York State.

Continue reading "Media skepticism is wise in Trump interest in Bills" »

Bills hire multi-media journalist with local ties

By Alan Pergament

The Buffalo Bills have added a new member to its team of reporters covering the National Football team for its website and other media ventures.

Alexandra Vitale, who most recently was a sports multi-media journalist and weekend anchor at a Columbus, Ga. station, is joining the team's marketing and broadcasting department as a multi-media reporter.

Vitale, who was an accomplished swimmer at Canisius College before she eventually graduated from Saint Leo University in Florida, joins Chris Brown and John Murphy for the Bills' internal coverage of the team.

She replaces Hannah Buehler, who left the Bills to become a reporter at Channel 7.

According to the Bills, Vitale will cover the team and report on community, marketing and business intitatives and off-the-field endeavors for buffalo bills.com and other Bills media properties.

She previously was a production assistant and in-studio host of Patriots This Week for the New England Patriots'  Kraft Productions. The Patriots are owned by Robert Kraft.

apergament@buffnews.com

 

 

TV, social network reflections highlight Wilson coverage

By Alan Pergament

ST. MARTIN - Traditionally when I go away big news happens.

I can not imagine any bigger than the news I got via text from my older son as I sat on a beach in the Caribbean: "Ralph Wilson died." I headed to the Internet on my phone and saw that the Buffalo Bills confirmed it.

It was time to reflect on Wilson's well-lived 95 years and all the things that have changed in pro football and in life over that time.

The text I received on my iPhone was one small example. I am also writing this on an iPad. I immediately wished I could see the local television coverage of Wilson's legacy and life in what will be one of the biggest stories of the year in WNY. And then I remembered I could because all the local TV stations stream their newscasts and I have WiFi at my hotel.

I was able to watch Channel 4 anchor Don Postles tell viewers that the news was not unexpected because of Wilson's age but it was still a bit of a shock.

A short time later, Channel 4 was carrying a live news conference in which former Bill Steve Tasker told a wonderful, moving story about how Wilson welcomed him to the team and wished him well before his second game. Tasker thought it was a nice gesture and didn't realize he was talking to the owner.

Tasker appeared ready to tell another moving story when Channel 4 inexplicably cut to comments made by County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Bad move. A little later, I saw Channel 2 sports anchor Adam Benigni's report on Wilson's death that was aided by file footage from an exceptional special on the owner that at the time seemed preparation for an obituary. Good stuff.

I also headed to Facebook to see a post by Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon that told a sweet story about Wilson joining her for a meal and trying to make her feel comfortable in her role as a reporter back then.

There were several sweet Facebook posts that illustrated how much many Western New Yorkers appreciated Wilson and his kind gestures. But I couldn't help but think that people who aren't Buffalo natives appreciate what Wilson has done for the community more than those who have lived here all their lives.

I am one of them. I came here when I was 21 and 20 years later watched my first Bills Super Bowl not knowing if I would root for the Bills or the team I grew up with -- the New York Giants. (At kickoff, I learned I was a Bills fan.)

Since I am not a Buffalo native, I think I understand how fortunate the area has been to have had Wilson as an owner more than natives.

The world has dramatically changed since Wilson bought the team in 1960. At the time, Buffalo might have been a top 30 TV market or close to it. Now it is outside the top 50.

The community has lost population and Wilson hasn't been able to charge as much for tickets as owners in bigger markets. I have a friend who is a Giants season ticket-holder who pays three times as much as I do for a Bills game and he also has to pay a license fee. I couldn't afford to go to one Giants game a season, even if I could get ahold of a ticket.

The disparity in ticket prices and market sizes is one of the reasons I have supported the Bills in their position against lifting the NFL blackout rule. I think lifting the rule could hurt attendance here and attendance is one of the ways this area can show it belongs in the NFL despite its market size.

Some people have criticized Wilson for a variety of things, including unfairly suggesting he didn't spend enough money on players. There were few such complaints when the Bills made four straight Super Bowls in the 1990s.

The NFL rules have changed and there is no way today a team could afford to keep all the Hall of Famers on the same team. Wilson is a Hall of Famer, too, which would seem to say how big his legacy is in Buffalo.

However, there is some sentiment that his legacy here would be tarnished if the Bills don't stay here forever. To the contrary, Wilson did everything he could to keep the team here in a world changed by TV money, technology and population shifts in the 54 years he's owned the team. If the Bills ever move, it is on WNY, not Ralph Wilson.

apergament@buffnews.com
 

Sweet 16 comments about NCAA tourney and announcers

By Alan Pergament

One of the additional reasons I like the invention of On Demand viewing so much is that it enables me to watch so much college basketball.

If a game is on, I always figure I can catch up with "Blacklist" or "Scandal" later On Demand.

That's especially true if Syracuse is playing and driving me crazy. Not that I overrated the Orange this season. Even when Syracuse was 25-0, I told friends and family that "they are not very good."

But I added: "No one else is, either."

Continue reading "Sweet 16 comments about NCAA tourney and announcers " »

Azar right on the money about Bills raising ticket prices

By Alan Pergament

I received my season ticket renewal information from the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday and immediately reflected on my conversation last week with former Channel 7 Sports Director Rick Azar.

If you missed Sunday's newspaper, Azar reminisced about a commentary he did decades ago when the Bills raised their ticket prices.

"Hey, the Buffalo Bills can charge anything they want," said Azar, "and if you don't want to pay it, nobody is holding a gun to your head to pay it. Don't buy a ticket."

The commentary, which didn't please the Bills public relations staff at the time because of the suggestion fans not buy tickets, certainly has relevance this year as well.

Continue reading "Azar right on the money about Bills raising ticket prices" »

A Syracuse grad crosses Duke game at Cameron off bucket list

By Alan Pergament

This isn't exactly a story about television, but it does have elements of the old series "Mission Impossible."

About a month ago, I asked a friend with deep basketball connections if he would help me take one item off my bucket list.

Since I almost kicked the bucket a few years ago, I thought it was about time I went to the top of the list and tried to see a basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium where Duke University plays and I have wanted to go since my childhood when Long Island legend Art Heyman played for the Blue Devils.

Since I graduated from Syracuse University, I asked if he could get me two tickets for the SU-Duke game on Saturday night, Feb.22 that was going to be televised on ESPN.

Talk about "Mission Impossible."

My friend asked several of his connections and was greeted with laughter.

Continue reading "A Syracuse grad crosses Duke game at Cameron off bucket list " »

Syracuse hoops more popular than the Beatles replay

By Alan Pergament

If you were to read my Twitter feed Wednesday night, you might have thought that everybody in  Western New York is a fan of Syracuse University basketball.

That's largely because my followers include a number of SU graduates who work in the local media, including WGR's Jeremy White and Sal Capaccio, WNLO-TV's Lauren Hall and Channel 2's Melissa Holmes.

Needless to say I was curious to see what the local ratings were for SU's thrilling 58-56 victory over Pittsburgh that ended with an incredible 35-basket by Orange freshman sensation Tyler Ennis.

The basket kept undefeated SU No. 1 in the nation and made it to No.1 on ESPN's "SportsCenter" the next day.

And Buffalo was watching big time.

Continue reading "Syracuse hoops more popular than the Beatles replay" »

Demler silent as Ch.2 boys act out; Trump may have "Apprentice" deadline

By Alan Pergament

I can't believe I am writing this, but I wish I knew what Maryalice Demler was thinking during her Channel 2 male teammates' sexist discussion of New York Yankee star Derek Jeter's dating life.

Normally I would never advocate Demler adding her two cents to any story. I've criticized her in the past for her frequent habit of commenting on news stories after they are read.

But the behavior of her male teammates at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast Thursday practically demanded some response from a 21st Century woman.

Continue reading "Demler silent as Ch.2 boys act out; Trump may have "Apprentice" deadline" »

Chicken wing story mildly amusing; Kane put in great company

 

By Alan Pergament

Notes from the cutting room floor:

Inquiring minds want to know: What did you think of Mo Rocca's chicken wing piece on CBS' "Sunday Morning"?

I was on an airplane when it aired but DVRed the program as I often do and watched it before the Super Bowl.

It was mildly amusing. But there's no dancing around it, I was a little disappointed because it didn't match the hype and I am a big Rocca fan.

Other than Rocca's attempt to spice it up by dancing while eating a wing as Lance Diamond sang, there wasn't much meat to it.

Continue reading "Chicken wing story mildly amusing; Kane put in great company" »

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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV | apergament@buffnews.com

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