Versatile broadcaster Brent Musburger, who moved to Billings at an early age, has long recognized his Montana roots.

"I think I've been a Griz fan all my life," he said this past week, drawing hoots and hollers from more than 500 people Tuesday night at the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce's 116 annual banquet at the University of Montana.

Born in Portland, Ore., in 1939, Musburger spent some of his early years in Big Timber where he was quite familiar with the family of Bob Hauck.

"That's one of the finest families I have ever been around," said Musburger - and the broadcaster recalled a time when his father's fence in Big Timber required painting. The instructions to brothers Bobby and Tim Hauck were specific and his father's intentions were demanding. But the final result was outstanding, Musburger said: "We haven't had to paint that fence yet."

Bobby Hauck, now head coach of the University of Montana's football team, said last week that the brothers Hauck did a job that should last: "It took us all summer," he said, and laughed.

Musburger told the chamber banquet that he's high on the Grizzlies' Craig Ochs, whom he saw at quarterback at Colorado. "I keep my eyes on the Griz," said Musburger, who broadcasts college football games for ABC.

Musburger, who lives on the Stock Farm east of Hamilton until early November, also recalled time spent with Jim Valvano and his then assistant, now Grizzly head basketball coach Pat Kennedy, at North Carolina State.

In response to a question from the crowd, Musburger left open the possibility of broadcasting a UM game. "A Griz-Bobcat game would be awesome," he said.

After years at CBS Sports, Musburger moved to ABC Television. Eight days ago he was in Dallas for the Red River Shootout football game between Texas and Oklahoma; yesterday, he called the Iowa-Ohio State game.

On a more serious note Tuesday night, Musburger criticized television's role in turning athletes into role models, preferring instead to see business leaders, teachers and most of all parents held in that regard.

"I don't think we should hold athletes up to anything other than they are," he said. "They're great entertainers. We give them way too much credit and because of my industry probably way too much money."

Missoula television stations have been shaking lately with personnel changes. In the most notable departure, KECI's longtime sports director, Todd Reed, resigned from the station to start work as a sales executive with Fisher Radio in Missoula. Fisher owns six Missoula stations.

Reed, who is married to KPAX's Jill Valley, started working for KECI in October 1992.

He said that he and Valley are looking to adopt a child, and child-care duties would have been tough to handle with both of them working a 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift.

"For the most part, it was a life change," he said. "It was a great opportunity for me. "It's still media-related. It's still people-related. It's a natural fit. It was a good transition for us."

At Fisher, Reed is teamed with Michelle Scott, who came to the broadcast group from KBOW in Butte.

The team concept of selling is new to Missoula radio but is an idea General Manager Chad Parrish said will revolutionize the market. Fisher started working with the team approach on Oct. 1.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I think it's going to totally revamp what's happening internally."

Fisher's advertising will be sold by five teams of two; the idea is that advertisers will be able to take advantage of the combined expertise each team offers.

Chris Nettleton, a graduate of Drake University, has moved from KFBB-TV in Great Falls to replace Reed on KECI.

He was the radio-television voice at Drake for three seasons and was the play-by-play voice of the Drake Relays.

His first job was as a sports reporter and photographer in Sioux City, Iowa.

Also at Fisher:

  • Scott Hawk, who came from Nashville, takes over the 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. slot on KXDR from Danny D (Dewitt), who became the program director at a Billings station.
  • Scott Richards, who does mornings and is the program director on Eagle 93, has been promoted to operations manager for the Missoula operation.

This is the first installment of Media Matters, an occasional feature of the Missoulian's Business section. Full disclosure: Missoulian business reporter Mick Holien continues to work broadcasting University of Montana football and basketball games on the Grizzly Sports Network for Clear Channel Radio, which owns six stations in Missoula. If you have questions or news tips, Holien can be reached at 523-5262 or via e-mail at mholien@missoulian.com.

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