WWCP has big plans for Curve

All too often the talk of community-minded efforts by TV broadcasters or pro sports teams ring hollow and produce just that – talk.

At best it’s calculated lip service or serious spin.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with a rare sports broadcasting opportunity that becomes a reality March 30, when the Altoona Curve and WWCP-TV collaborate to broadcast the exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates from Peoples Natural Gas Field.

With only standing-room tickets remaining for the game, Curve officials reached out and found a willing partner for the collaboration.

For the Curve, it’s a chance to share the special game with people throughout the region, promoting their product while serving fans. For WWCP, it’s also serving people in the region.

“It’s a special opportunity, something that should not be missed, and we’re glad to be a part of it,” said WWCP general manager Frank Quitoni. “It’s just another way for us to serve the community.”

That’s true, and it’s also true that advertiser support for the game has been strong. Still, no Saturday afternoon baseball game, no matter how different or important, will turn the station’s budget all by itself, so the community-minded reasons ring true.

Plans for the broadcast include a half-hour pregame show, player introductions along the baselines and more. Thanks to the Curve’s in-house production team, led by John Foreman, WWCP needs only to add a camera or two of its own to the ballpark’s production and then make sure the signal gets distributed throughout the region.

“It’s not a huge technical challenge, but it’s an important event and we take the responsibility of televising the game seriously,” said Quitoni, whose background includes two Emmy Awards for technical achievement while working for CBS Sports covering the Olympics in 1992 and 1994. “We’re treating it like the big event it is for this region.”

When the Pirates last played in Altoona – on May 15, 2000 – more than 7,300 people watched in person. This time, thousands more, from Johnstown to State College, will have the chance to watch as well.

Tuner tidbits

n Curve play-by-play man Mike Passanisi will work the game with former Pirates pitcher and Huntingdon native Stan Belinda.

n Another strong installment of ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary series airs at 9 p.m. tonight. “Survive and Advance” focuses on N.C. State’s 1983 national championship team.

n ESPN Radio’s decision not to renew the contract of Chuck Wilson, who was with the network at its inception and most recently worked on a freelance basis, is a loss for overnight and weekend listeners.

n Fox Sports 1, officially announced as a rival for ESPN last week and set to launch Aug. 17, will rely heavily on college sports and UFC programming in its first year. Do not be surprised if Erin Andrews and Gus Johnson have high-profile roles. And the selection of Regis Philbin to host an hour-long panel discussion each evening at 5 p.m. should be interesting.

n After the announcement of the NCAA Tournament field tonight, not many guarantees remain -except those related to TV broadcasts and coverage. For example, requisite complaints about seeding and who did not make the field will follow on every possible outlet and the CBS Sports interview with Mike Bobinski, chair of the tournament selection committee, will be scrutinized for all that gets asked or not asked.

Steve Sampsell covers the broadcast side of sports. He’s on Twitter @talkingtvsports, writes at online, and may be contacted at