Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Zip Zeros in on Life, Steps Down as Channel 4's Sports Director

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Zip Zeros in on Life, Steps Down as Channel 4's Sports Director

Article excerpt

Christopher "Zip" Rzeppa, the dean of the local television sports anchors, is stepping down from that position effective Monday, when his contract expires.

He will remain with KMOV (Channel 4) as a contributor but has decided to take a new direction with his career. He is heavily involved in a nationally syndicated radio project that makes it debut Saturday, and he wants to restructure his schedule to allow for more personal time.

"I just want a life," Rzeppa, 42, said. "For 18 years I've been working nothing but nights. You pay a price, a big price. I'm just tired of getting off work at 11 every night and having nowhere to go, no friends, no kids, nothing. It's time to change that."

His departure from the sports director's position leaves Mike Bush of KSDK (Channel 5) as St. Louis' longest-tenured sports director. Interestingly, Bush was hired in 1985 to counter Rzeppa's impact in the market.

Steve Savard, a Parkway North graduate who has been at Channel 4 since May, will be promoted to sports director and handle the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday sportscasts. Rzeppa had been handling the 10 p.m. duties, Savard the early chores. Doug Vaughn of Kirkwood remains as the weekend anchor and a reporter.

News director Steve Hammel said the station wants to hire a part-time sportscaster quickly. "Yesterday," he said when asked when he'd like the job filled.

Rzeppa was the hottest property on local TV when he jumped from KTVI (Channel 2) to Channel 4 in 1989. But he never has delivered the big ratings numbers that KMOV had hoped.

"I have no control over that," Rzeppa said. "I show up and do the best I can. That's all I can do."

The loss of momentum can be attributed, at least in part, to having to sit out for six months between jobs because of a legal challenge from his previous employers. In that time, his bandwagon lost much of its zip.

Rzeppa bulldozed onto the local scene at KTVI in 1984 with a raucous, madcap style that had not been seen previously in the market. He came from a Boston station, which didn't renew his contract after he had pulled an outrageous on-air stunt. After incorrectly predicting the winner of the Super Bowl, Rzeppa said he had egg on his face. …

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