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MORA'S DAYS AT CHANNEL 2 TO END; KELLY COMEBACK TALK SURFACED ON EMPIRE

Notes wrapped up before the holidays:

As a rule, sportscasters in this town have very long runs. But don't plan on getting to know Channel 2's Josh Mora much better.

When his two-year contract expires in February, he'll be leaving the Gannett station to pursue other interests.

Mora's planned departure came to light when Channel 2 sent along an announcement that Adam Benigni is now the station's weekend sports anchor.

No mention was made of Mora, who had been doing the job on an interim basis for several months after Mike DeGeorge was fired.

Mora said he was offered the weekend job before Benigni was hired but that he and the station couldn't agree on terms.

"The only disappointment I have is I think things are really picking up at our place," Mora said. "If people give the station a chance, Channel 2 will be a winner very shortly."

Mora's agent, Adam Freifeld, said Channel 2 wanted Mora to sign a multi-year deal that wouldn't allow him to leave if he was offered a job in his hometown of Chicago. Mora wanted that flexibility.

Mora, who has an appealing style, has received "quite a bit of interest in the last few months," Friefeld said.

Inquiring minds want to know: Why did Jim Kelly, who works for NBC and has his own show on NBC affiliate Channel 2, decide to reveal his possible comeback as a player in an interview on Fox Sports Network?

Actually, the interview for Fox's regional cable network was taped by a member of the Empire Sports Network team, Bob Dingwall. That's why it first appeared on Empire, which gave Fox credit.

The interview focused on the illness of Kelly's son, Hunter. But when the retired Bills quarterback spoke about his possible comeback, Empire quickly carried that as a news item.

A longer version of the interview dealing with Hunter ran on the Empire Sports Report the next night.

Kelly did discuss the comeback possibilities on NBC's halftime show last Saturday, but he declined to confirm that the Baltimore Ravens are one of the teams interested in him.

Steve Tasker's retirement led two Saturday evening newscasts, which shows how important sports is to the local news on weekends. His retirement wasn't exactly earth-shattering news, either.

When Channel 7 decided to drop its Bills Scoreboard show this fall, it was partly because Tasker told the station that he didn't want to return as co-host because he preferred to enjoy what could be his final season as a player without any distractions.

Last weekend, Tasker said he made the retirement announcement on Saturday because he thought that Jim Kelly would have done it on NBC's telecast of the Bills game Sunday. If Kelly had scooped Tasker, it would have been only fitting.

After all, Tasker leaked Kelly's retirement story on ESPN radio last season.

It says a lot about the state of local television that Channel 7 sports anchor John Murphy cracked a joke about the uncertainty inside his department and some viewers thought he was serious. Murphy listed several of the ills that viewers would have thought pertained to the Bills before dryly stating that he was talking about things inside his department.

Asked about the unusual remark, Murphy said he was just joking.

When told that some people took him seriously, Murphy added: "Isn't that the best kind of joke?"

Speaking of Murphy, his other hat is as the Bills radio analyst on WBEN. He's a good one, too. But last Sunday, he seemed to analyze every pass thrown by quarterback Todd Collins. Collins hasn't played well, obviously. However, the extent to which Collins' every move has been dissected seems like piling on.

Wade Phillips, radio analyst. That will be the Bills' defensive coordinator's new role starting next weekend when he becomes the expert NFL playoff analyst for the One-on-One Sports Network. It is carried locally on WWKB-AM.

The decline of the Bills is really hurting Channel 2, the NBC affiliate that carries AFC games. Its Sunday Sports Extra averaged only a 3 rating this November, down 40 percent from the 5 rating it had a year ago. The viewership loss comes despite the fact competition was lighter because Channel 4 dropped its Sunday sports show. WIVB's replacement show, reruns of "NYPD Blue," actually defeat both Sports Extra and Channel 7's syndicated sports show hosted by George Michael.

As much as I like the work of WBEN sportscaster Kevin Sylvester, it would be a good idea if someone at the station told him to slow down a little bit when reading scores. Especially on his morning sports reports.

Empire really has a loser on its hands with the Toronto Raptors, who seem assured of getting a lottery pick in next year's draft. And Bills fans think they have it bad.

Did you see that Empire is sending Pete Weber to cover the Orangemen's appearance against Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl? It is part of Empire's attempt to widen its Central New York audience.

Even a Syracuse alum has to admit this New Year's Eve game is pretty meaningless and bound to be a ratings loser. Kansas State may bring 40,000 fans to the game in Arizona, but K-State is unlikely to bring the millions to their TVs to make the game a ratings winner.

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