Phil Aldridge will replace Rod Simons after impressing station officials with his writing skills as well as with his wit.
Just over a month after announcing Rod Simons wouldn't be retained as its main sports anchor, KSTP-TV has hired Phil Aldridge to fill the No. 1 role.
Aldridge has been at the ABC affiliate in Denver since October 2005 and was serving as a weekend sports anchor and reporter.
He was one of two people KSTP brought to the Twin Cities for an interview and will receive a three-year contract. "We looked at about 100 tapes and the one thing that made Phil stand out is that he's a smart, creative writer," KSTP news director Lindsay Radford said Thursday. "He knows when to pick a moment and have fun with it but isn't afraid to be edgy or go after a team or coach."
A native of Long Island, N.Y., and a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston, Aldridge began working in media in college when he got a job as a copyboy at the New York Times.
The 45-year-old has served as a sports producer at the ABC affiliate in New Orleans; a weekend sports anchor and reporter in Lafayette, La.; sports director in Greenville, S.C.; and as a sports anchor in Atlanta. Radford said Aldridge's presence will "change the tone of the department," when it comes to storytelling and covering events.
"I've been in the business for 20 years," Aldridge said. "I think anybody can really do it straightforward. But you have to add a little bit more. I don't want it to be Night at the Improv, but I want to inform people and maybe even educate people that aren't major sports fans and also entertain them. I'm not doing serious news. ... It's a pleasure doing sports and I'm doing something I really enjoy."
Simons' last day as KSTP's sports anchor will be June 29 -- he could end up serving as a reporter for news and sports stories until his contract expires in October -- and Aldridge will start the next day. However, Radford doesn't plan for Aldridge to make his on-air debut until July 13.
Reporters Ryan Kibbe and Anne Hutchinson will anchor the sports before Aldridge takes to the airwaves.An option for Flip
It wouldn't be surprising if former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders ends up working as an NBA analyst in 2008-09. The Twin Cities resident is due $5.5 million from the Detroit Pistons next season after being fired as coach this week, and doing television could be a good way to keep his hand in the game.
The logical landing place would be TNT -- especially if analyst Doug Collins is hired as coach of the Chicago Bulls. The network used Saunders on its playoff coverage in 2005 after he was fired by the Wolves.
"Flip was always prepared and a key contributor giving the viewer a coach's perspective of the game on the floor during his playoff stint with TNT," said Jeff Behnke, executive producer of Turner Sports. Turner also is taking over operations of NBA TV and NBA.com and could be looking to hire analysts for those ventures.Fine-tuning
• Under terms of their new radio agreement with KFAN, the Wolves are expected to pay the station in the neighborhood of $2,000 per broadcast next season. It cost the team roughly $500 to $600 per game to be on BOB 106 the past two seasons. As for reaction from BOB officials to the Wolves' decision to opt out of their contract a year early, station manager Neil Freeman expressed disappointment but said the sides are discussing some "multicultural opportunities." That could include Spanish-language broadcasts on BOB 106 or other another station owned by Dennis Carpenter. Freeman also is hoping to keep the WNBA's Lynx on his station. That team, which also is owned by Wolves owner Glen Taylor, is in the final year of a three-year deal.
• FSN North host and reporter Marney Gellner will move to a part-time role next month. Gellner and her husband, Matt Mathiasen, welcomed their first child, Grady Lyle, on March 25. She returned from maternity leave last week but has decided to cut back.
• Detroit's Stanley Cup-clinching victory over Pittsburgh in Game 6 of the finals Wednesday had a 4.4 overnight rating and 7 share, the best rating for an NHL game since NBC reacquired the league's rights in 2004.
Judd Zulgad • firstname.lastname@example.org