Smizik on TV: Radio host adds fuel to his own fire

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Mark Madden opened his 1250 ESPN show Tuesday with a discussion of the Bob Costas HBO special on the media. On that show, where Madden's feud with Steelers receiver Hines Ward was mentioned, Costas said negativity fuels most talk shows.

Madden didn't necessarily disagree, but maintained that if his show was fueled by negativity it was the callers' negativity, not his.

There's some validity to that point. Most people who call talk shows, as well as those who write letters to newspapers, are angry about something. Angry people have a need to vent. When people are happy, they're more apt to sit back, relax and enjoy.

But then to disprove his point, or maybe because he can't help himself, Madden ended the discussion by going totally negative with yet another trashing of Ward.

Ward is yet another highly popular Pittsburgh sports figure Madden repeatedly attacks. It makes no difference to Madden that not only is Ward a Hall of Fame-caliber receiver but also one of the best guys to play in this town and one of the most cooperative with the media. Madden wouldn't know that because he never shows up anywhere -- except the Penguins locker room where he's buddy-buddy with the players -- to face the athletes he criticizes.

His obvious purpose in doing this is to make himself look tough by taking on a popular figure -- be it Ward, Jerome Bettis, Jim Leyland, Arnold Palmer, Franco Harris or Myron Cope. The fact he never confronts these people in person actually makes him the opposite of tough.

Madden, as he has done in the past, blamed Ward for getting him fired as a panelist on WTAE's "Action Sports Sunday" about 18 months ago. He also blamed Deshea Townsend. WTAE says that is not the case.

Madden can't get over losing that job, the aftermath of which, by the way, he predicted the demise of the show. It's still on the air and doing well.

As for Ward, he shrugged off Madden's attack on the Costas Show.

"I try to stay away from all talk-radio shows," he said. "For some reason, [Madden] don't like Jerome and I, and that's because he asked us to go on a couple of his talk shows and I just don't want to associate myself with that.''

Got the Penguins covered

Versus, which will be carrying the first four games of the Penguins playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers, is available through all local cable providers, although not to all subscribers. Some providers place Versus on a higher-priced tier.

But Comcast, the largest provider in the region, offers Versus on standard cable on channel 60 in most areas. Armstrong offers Versus on channel 485 to digital basic customers. Verizon offers Versus on expanded basic on channel 75.

Once the games are over, hockey fans have plenty of options. They can stay with Versus, which, because during the conference finals there will only be one game a night, won't be switching to another game. Versus offers its "Hockey Central" show after the game.

FSN Pittsburgh, which ended its game coverage in the second round, still is doing a postgame show and is going full bore at it. Stan Savran will do live interviews outside the Penguins locker room. Dan Potash, who covers the team for FSN, will work the locker room. Paul Alexander and former Penguin Jay Caulfield will be in the studio. Play-by-play announcer Paul Steigerwald and analyst Bob Errey also will contribute.

On the radio side, after Mike Lange and Phil Borque sign off, Bob Grove and Borque, sometimes replaced by Joe Sager, do a postgame show that runs about 45 minutes. Grove, a former Penguins beat reporter, knows the team and its history as well as anyone and, although not a broadcaster by training or profession, does an excellent job of fielding calls and offering insights.

This is the best radio postgame show in Pittsburgh.

Additionally, 1250 ESPN conducts a postgame show.


Bob Smizik can be reached at bsmizik@post-gazette.com .


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