News & Observer | newsobserver.com | Babe is back on Buzz's birthday

Published: Apr 08, 2008 12:00 AM
Modified: Apr 08, 2008 01:36 AM

Babe is back on Buzz's birthday

The Fabulous Sports Babe, Nanci Donnellan, hosted a show from 1996 to 2001; this week, she helps mark the 10th anniversary of the all-sports format of WRBZ-AM, The Buzz.

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The Fabulous Sports Babe is back in the Triangle -- briefly.

After a seven-year absence, she returns to Sports Radio 850 the Buzz for one day only -- Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon -- to help the station celebrate its 10th anniversary of its all-sports format. The show will broadcast live from Tampa, Fla.

"It'll be fun to talk to people from Raleigh again," The Babe says. "I love it there."

The following day, she returns to the air full time in her hometown of Tampa to co-host "Brantley and the Babe" with Scott Brantley, weekday afternoons on WHBO-AM. Could this turn out to be another syndicated hit for her?

The Babe, aka Nanci Donnellan, was host of the syndicated program "The Fabulous Sports Babe," which aired midmornings on Raleigh's WRBZ 850 AM from 1996 to 2001, when it was canceled by The Sports Fan Radio Network. The network folded soon after.

In its heyday, her show was consistently one of the most popular radio programs among the male listenership in Raleigh-Durham. "Guys love her," says WRBZ general manager Brian Maloney.

She visited the Triangle a few times during that period for live sports-bar broadcasts and book signings. As legend has it, those appearances drew standing-room crowds.

In recent years, Donnellan has been "filling in" at radio stations in Tampa and around the U.S., when she wasn't just "floating in my pool" at home.

"I felt juiced again -- I felt good again," she says of the renewed confidence those guest spots gave her. She admits the cancellation of her show had taken a toll on her.

"When I walked away, I did not read a newspaper for six months," she says. "I did not watch TV for a year. And I did not listen to the radio for over two years. And that's the truth."

These days, she's getting ready to celebrate a 10th anniversary of her own: cancer-free. She successfully battled breast cancer in 1998. She got up every day to go to work that year, even when radiation treatments weakened her terribly.

Her only medical issue now is her recent double knee replacement surgery, one consequence of being The Fabulous Sports Babe.

"This is what happens when you blow out your knee early, when you're a teenager, and you keep playing sports for 25 years," she says.

Listeners support Rhodes

Despite liberal radio host Randi Rhodes' suspension from Air America for "abusive, ad hominem language" during a recent stand-up comedy routine, Chapel Hill station WCHL 1360 AM and responding listeners remain supportive.

Rhodes was suspended Thursday from her "Randi Rhodes Show" by the progressive-talk radio network after video surfaced online that showed Rhodes using obscenities to describe both Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and a supporter, former congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro.

Her remarks were not made on the air, something fellow progressive host Stephanie Miller and others have pointed out in her defense. (Miller's Jones Radio Networks show airs 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on WCHL.)

The acrimony that continues to fester between Clinton and Obama supporters has become a hot topic on WCHL's syndicated daytime shows. Rhodes, Miller and noontime Jones Radio host Ed Schultz all support Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

Despite Rhodes' sometimes controversial manner of speaking, both on and off the air, station manager Christy Dixon says there's no buyer's remorse since the station added her show to the weekday lineup back in February 2007.

She adds that only a few listeners have contacted the station to comment on the suspension, and "every single one" has been supportive of Rhodes.

"The Randi Rhodes Show" airs 3 to 5 p.m. on WCHL. It airs for three hours nationally, but WCHL airs a one-hour local news and public issues show between 5 and 6 instead.

Would-be No. 2's to talk

UNC-TV and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina have teamed up to present the 2008 N.C. Lieutenant Gubernatorial Candidates Forum, which airs at 8 p.m. Thursday on UNC-NC, UNC-TV's digital channel dedicated to North Carolina programming. For viewers in nondigital households, the forum reairs two hours later on UNC-TV.

Shannon Vickery will moderate the back-to-back discussions with candidates on both sides of the race.

Democratic candidates Walter Dalton, Hampton Dellinger, Patrick Smathers and Dan Besse have all agreed to appear.

Republicans Greg Dority, Timothy Cook and James Snyder also have agreed to participate. Republican candidate Robert Pittenger cannot make it because of a schedule conflict.

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