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Behind the Broadcast: Catalon gets the reward he deserves

Saturday, June 8, 2013
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In the nearly 10 years I’ve known Andrew Catalon, I have come to consider him a good friend and a fine broadcaster.

Ego? Catalon doesn’t know the definition of the word. He is a down-to-earth broadcaster and human being. He works hard at his craft, and you knew that, someday, it was going to pay off for him.

That payoff came Thursday when Catalon announced he is leaving WNYT (Ch. 13), where he was the weekend sports anchor as well as sports reporter, to join CBS Sports Network full time as a play-by-play announcer for college football and basketball.

It’s been a steady rise nationally for Catalon. He’s been working games and the U.S. Open tennis on CBSSN, as well as working on DirecTV’s Masters coverage and NBC’s Olympics coverage. In 2011, Catalon got to work an NFL game on CBS Sports.

Obviously, the networks know that Catalon is very talented. He has established himself as a solid play-by-play man. To me, what helped Catalon get some great exposure was his work on the classic tennis semifinal at Wimbledon in last year’s Summer Olympics. Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro played a four-hour, 26-minute three-set marathon that ended with Federer winning, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 19-17. The match was carried entirely by Bravo, one of the NBCUniversal’s channels that was carrying the Summer Olympics. NBC Sports picked up the coverage during the third set.

What I remember about that day was Catalon’s understated call. He didn’t scream, didn’t try to pump up the call with a catch phrase. Catalon let the action and the crowd’s reaction tell the story. It was solid.

Catalon did a great job as an anchor and reporter and WNYT. He was the face of the weekly high school sports segment, saluting a Section II athlete of the week.

And back to the ego thing. Cat­alon could have still been working full time at WNYT while working for CBSSN. But last December, he went from full time to part time at the station, which gave part-timer Chris Onorato a chance to move up to full time. It was a classy move on Catalon’s part. I’m not sure any other sportscaster would have done that.

Catalon will be missed on WNYT. Thankfully, we’ll get to see him a lot more on CBSSN and, maybe one day, a regular spot on CBS Sports.

Pepper excited

Former LPGA golfer and Sar­atoga Springs native Dottie Pepper gave up her analyst role on NBC Sports’ golf coverage last year to join the PGA of America Board of Directors to work on developing junior golf in the United States. It looked like Pepper was done with TV.

Not so fast.

Pepper joined ESPN a couple of weeks ago. She made her debut on “SportsCenter” last Thursday. She will work as an on-course reporter for ESPN’s coverage of the first two rounds of the U.S. Open Thursday and Friday from Merion (Pa.) Country Club. Pepper will then be in the booth to analyze the first two rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open June 27-28. In July, she will head to England for ESPN’s coverage of the British Open, Senior British Open and Women’s British Open.

ESPN’s limited golf coverage was a big reason Pepper joined the cable network. It gave her a chance to work in TV while focusing on her position with the PGA of America.

“It’s very ideal,” Pepper said in a telephone interview Thursday. “Every event is a big event, whether it be the U.S. Open, the [British] Open championship, whatever it might be, there’s no throwaways. That was very appealing.”

Pepper has been impressed with her new surroundings.

“The producer knew exactly what time I was going on,” Pepper said. “I had a rough idea of what we were going to talk about. The level of communication and the way

everything has been handled, as far as the research staff in preparation for the [U.S.] Open, I’ll get a monster packet at my house tomorrow about things that will happen next week. There’s a monster amount of research. They’re so on top of things.”

ESPN will have coverage from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. NBC Sports will take over from 3 to 5 p.m. those days before televising the final two rounds next Saturday and Sunday.

Olbermann’s back

Keith Olbermann is coming back to TV in the fall.

Turner Sports announced Wednesday that Olbermann will be the studio host for TBS’ Major League Baseball postseason coverage. He will join studio analyst Dennis Eckersley.

Olbermann hasn’t had a regular TV job since March 30, 2012, when he left Current TV, where he was hosting “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Before that, Olbermann hosted a similar show in MSNBC from March 2003 to January 2011.

Olbermann is best known for his time at ESPN from 1992-97, where he co-hosted “SportsCenter” with Dan Patrick. The tandem became very popular, and they referred to “SportsCenter” as “The Big Show.”

Olbermann left ESPN in 1997 and later worked at FOX Sports and NBC Sports.

“This is perfect for me on several different levels,” Olbermann said on a conference call. “Baseball is my passion. On a professional level, this is great for me because it’s what I do. Last season, I did this at home to the TV by myself. Now, there will be people watching, I’ll get paid for it, and I get to wear a tie rather than sitting around in my uniform pretending to be a player. The other part is . . . there are so many old friends involved, such as [Turner Sports executive vice president and COO] Lenny Daniels, it is a delight personally to be working with him again.”

In other TBS MLB postseason news, Cal Ripken will move from the studio to the booth, where he will join Ernie Johnson Jr. and Ron Darling for a wild-card game, a div­ision series and the National League Championship Series.

Darling, who also is an analyst for SNY’s New York Mets coverage, signed a long-term contract extension with Turner Sports. He will continue to work select regular-season games on TBS’ Sunday afternoon package.

“I am just over the moon,” Darling said. “I am so happy I am in the Turner family. I have made friends, from the people I work with in front of the camera, to all the people that work behind the scenes. Everyone from top to bottom have been so great to me. That is one of the reasons I’m so happy to come back.”

Play-by-play announcer Brian Anderson, who is the TV voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, and analyst John Smoltz will work a wild-card game and one of the division series contests. They will also continue to work some Sunday afternoon games.

Parting shots

NBC13 and NBC13 HD will have the Belmont Stakes and Manhattan Handicap today at 5 p.m. NBC Sports Network and NBCSN HD will have the Belmont Stakes undercard at 3 p.m. . . .

ABC’s coverage Thursday of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat earned a 10.6 overnight rating, according to Nielsen. While it’s the fourth straight year Game 1 has earned a double-digit rating, it’s down 10 percent from last year’s 11.8 for the Heat-Oklahoma City Thunder finals. . . .

ESPN announced Friday that the Aug. 31 college football game between Syracuse and Penn State from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., will be televised by ABC on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. It will most likely be seen in the Capital Region on ABC10 (WTEN).

 
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