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KFAN will be on Rochester airwaves

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KFAN is coming to Rochester.

The popular all-sports radio station based out of the Twin Cities will make its Rochester debut on May 6 as part of a nine-market regional network. KFAN's programming will air from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday plus Saturday on KWEB-AM (1270).

Both KFAN and KWEB are owned by Clear Channel Communications.

"We're not quite sure about Sunday, but we're looking at it,'' said Bob Fox, the KWEB general manager.

The KFAN programming will replace the national Sporting News Radio Network currently heard on KWEB. Fox isn't sure what programming KWEB will air at night or during overnight hours. KFAN uses ESPN Radio when it does not air anything locally.

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"We're still going to be very much involved in local sports, including high schools and RCTC,'' said Fox. "This will in no way affect that coverage. Local sports are very, very important to us.

"This is going to be a big win for our listeners because you'll be hearing all about Minnesota sports, but they don't neglect anything national, either. That's a big reason whey they are so successful in the Twin Cities.''

KFAN recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. It has rights to both the Vikings and Timberwolves, and both are also carried on KWEB.

The talent on KFAN includes ex-Vikings players Mike Morris, Jeff Dubay, Paul Allen, Dan Cole, Chad Hartman and Dan Barreiro. The KFAN Web site is www.kfan.com

Around the tube

The University of Minnesota's opening-round game in the NCAA women's tournament Saturday won't be televised. ESPN and ESPN2 will televise six first-round games but not the Gophers, who meet UNLV at 4 p.m. Saturday from Chapel Hill, N.C.

If the Gophers do win, however, their second-round game Monday will be on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. against either host North Carolina or Harvard.

Twins TV analyst Bert Blyleven originally planned to cut his schedule to 100 games this year but has decided to work 124 of the 130 telecasts. Ex-Twins catcher Terry Steinbach will work the others. Dick Bremer is the play-by-play voice on Twins' TV telecasts.

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NASCAR on Fox earned the highest rating of any weekend sports programming. Sunday's Winston Cup race from Atlanta had a 6.0 rating and 15 share (10 million viewers), beating out CBS's NCAA Tournament Selection Show (5.4/11) for the week's top honors. It also whipped the head-to-head competition of the NBA game on NBC between Toronto and Orlando.

Normally, the NFL opens its season on Sundays but not this year. ESPN will televise the league's first primetime season opener on Thursday, Sept. 5, between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. The league must still approve the schedule in early April, but it appears the telecast will replace one of the cable network's three annual Thursday night contests, which are part of its 18-game, prime-time NFL package.

ESPN is hoping the game will jump-start its NFL ratings. Last year, the network averaged a 6.34 rating, down from a 7.05 in 2000. At worst, the game should improve the network's Thursday night primetime ratings, which averaged a 4.2.

NBC gets the Arena Football League. Beginning next February, NBC will produce four regional games a week over the 15-week AFL season. The network will also televise all postseason games and the Arena Bowl.

NBC will use the AFL to fill the void left by sports defections, including its recent loss of the NBA, its late-1990s loss of NFL rights and the failure of its XFL joint venture with World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. last year.

"A Season on the Brink,'' a film about former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight, produced large ratings for ESPN, but most people saw the R-rated version.

Shown on ESPN and ESPN2, the network's first original film earned a rating of 3.7 for the profanity version on ESPN and a 0.5 PG-rated bleeped version on ESPN2.

Go figure.

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Paul Christian is a Post-Bulletin sports writer who writes a weekly Friday column devoted to TV and radio sports. He can be reached at pchristian@postbulletin.com.

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