When FSN North initially decided to air the Gophers men's hockey series at Alaska Anchorage, the plan was to take all elements of the Seawolves' production. This included the play-by-play of the Anchorage announcer.
But FSN North executive producer Jeff Byle and Chris Withers, who produces Gophers hockey for the network, decided this week there might be a more creative way to do things. The result: regular announcers Frank Mazzocco and Doug Woog will call the late-night action today (10:37 faceoff) and Saturday (10:07) while watching on a monitor from the comfort of FSN's studios in Northeast Minneapolis.
No one is likely to complain about this setup considering it's believed to be the first time a Gophers game in Anchorage will be televised locally. (The cost of sending a crew and paying for satellite time is extremely high.)
Byle makes it clear there will be no attempt to hide the fact Mazzocco and Woog aren't in Anchorage -- "I think if you do that it's a recipe for disaster," he said -- and added that this isn't going to be a traditional hockey telecast. Instead, Byle wants part description of the action and part instruction from Woog about the finer points of the game.
Woog will be given a dry-erase board to break down certain plays, a "two-box" will allow viewers to see him, and he will join former Gophers and Wild player Darby Hendrickson and studio host Marney Gellner between periods. The in-game telecast most likely will have a conversational tone.
"It won't be a traditional call, and it can't be," said Mazzocco, who has been announcing hockey for 31 years but has never done a game from the studio. "But I think we have so much other stuff built into it that the show will be interesting just because of the way we handle it."
As for the actual look of the telecast, nobody knows exactly what to expect. Byle said the games are a student production.
"I think it will be basic game coverage [from the site]," Byle said. "But I think Gophers fans will be tolerant. I'm very curious to see how it's going to work and look forward to seeing the production and all of this come together."
It should be easier to hear Timberwolves broadcasts in the southeast and southern metro beginning tonight when its games begin airing on KGBY (107.5 FM) as well as BOB 106. Both stations are owned by Dennis Carpenter.
KGBY, which also is known as La Mera Buena and carries several hours of Spanish-speaking programming a day, had aired select Wolves games in Spanish the past three years. This move means those broadcasts will stop.
Instead, Alfonso Fernandez will host a half-hour pregame show in Spanish on KGBY that will begin an hour before tipoff. That will lead into the regular pregame 30 minutes before tip.
Ted Johnson, Wolves vice president of communications, called getting the games on KGBY a "really" important step. "It's an important step," he said. "We shared with BOB [officials] our concerns about the southeast metro and had heard from fans who were upset they haven't been able to hear the games."
• Wolves owner Glen Taylor, a Mankato resident, has to be a somewhat happy man these days. His team might be one of the worst in the NBA, but at least he can see the Wolves' over-the-air games while sitting in the comfort of his living room. After several months of work, KSTC's Wolves telecasts will be available on the Charter cable system (Ch. 29) in Mankato starting tonight.
• In an apparent budgetary decision by CBS-owned WCCO-TV, sports anchor Mark Rosen isn't making the trip to Florida to cover the Twins in spring training for the first time in 21 years.
• ESPN has hired former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight to work as a studio analyst for its men's basketball coverage beginning March 12 and running through NCAA Final Four.
• Twins catcher Mike Redmond will make his debut as an in-game analyst when he joins Dan Gladden during the fifth inning of KSTP's broadcast of the Twins-Red Sox spring training game at 12:05 p.m. Saturday. Redmond is expected to serve as an analyst for half an inning from the bench once a week during the regular season.
• Former Vikings receiver Cris Carter, who signed with ESPN this week, appears to have a good shot at being named to the network's Sunday morning "NFL Countdown" pregame show if Keyshawn Johnson decides to leave the studio and attempt a comeback.