Waddle Taking White Sox, Bulls 'Underground'

Article excerpt

Byline: Ted Cox

Word is, Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox are considering a package deal that would require fans to buy tickets to three other, less desirable games for each ticket they purchase to the highly anticipated Cubs-Sox interleague series at Comiskey Park in June.

Today's question: Did Reinsdorf foist a similar deal on SportsChannel with the new series "Bulls/Sox Underground?"

"Underground" debuts at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, with Tom Waddle as host. Beginning the next week, it will move up a half-hour to its regular time of 7 p.m. Sunday.

Jim Corno, SportsChannel's vice president and general manager, says he expects the new show to provide viewers "an inside look at these teams that they can't find anywhere else ... exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage that can only be found on SportsChannel."

It's an interesting premise, and Waddle is an inspired choice as host. The former Bear receiver made a smooth transition to broadcasting in his short-lived stay at WMVP 1000-AM, and he has also graced "Pro Football Weekly" alongside Hub Arkush. He recently moved over to WGN 720-AM on radio, but the SportsChannel deal is a welcome addition to his duties. As usual, SportsChannel is committing itself to a promising talent before anyone else does.

Corno says they were looking for a new face as the host of "Underground," someone not affiliated with either the Bulls or Sox, but preferably a former athlete familiar with Chicago. Waddle was a perfect fit, and as someone looking to expand his horizons in broadcasting he feels the same way about the show.

"I want the perception of what I'm doing not to be solely locked into football," Waddle says. "But, at the same time, I want to be able to do not only a variety of sports, but also a variety of roles." With "Underground," he'll be the live host in the studio, writing his own material and introducing taped segments, but he'll also be doing interviews, both in the studio and at the stadiums. It's a perfect place for him to expand his repertoire.

Likewise, the show itself makes sense for SportsChannel. Chicago's cable sports outlet prides itself on its schedule of syndicated games from across the nation and wide-ranging preps coverage, both of which are essential to the station's self-definition. But they don't pay the bills the way the Bulls, Sox and Blackhawks do. It's appointment television that builds ratings and ad revenue, and any half-hour the station can set aside with "BULLS" stamped on it is going to attract viewers.

So the question is, why "Bulls/Sox Underground?" Why not "Bulls Underground" now, switching to "Sox Underground" when the basketball season ends? …