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They were rookies together. Fernando Valenzuela and Fred Rogin made their Los Angeles debut in September 1980.

Valenzuela threw his last pitch for the Dodgers 33 years ago. After a career covering Valenzuela, Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky, Al Davis and countless others for Channel 4, Roggin is hanging up the mic. His last day as a sportscaster there is Thursday.

It is his choice, he says. He will still appear on his AM 570 radio show. He will explore opportunities in television production, whether hosting shows or creating them for others. But after more than 42 years as a local sports guy, he’s ready to throw his last pitch from the anchor desk.

“I realized dreams I didn’t know I had,” Rogi, 65, says. “I have been the luckiest and happiest guy in the world.”

No farewell to Rogin would be appropriate without acknowledging the significant role he played in reviving local sports programming here and elsewhere.

Sports used to be a serious thing told by people with a serious face.

Rojin was not one of them. A 1989 Times story about a new and lighter wave of sportscasters centered on Rogin carried this headline: “Send in the clowns!”

As a Channel 4 sports guy, Rogin carried on the legacy of notable alumni such as Bryant Gumbel, Ross Porter and Stu Nahan. The station heavily promoted Rojin on its own label. “Fred’ll show it to you!”

“I said … that in an earthquake you had a 1 in 3 chance of being crushed by a Fred Roggin billboard,” Keith Olbermann said in that 1989 story.

Olbermann was then Channel 2’s sports guy before becoming a household name at ESPN. Rojin stayed in Los Angeles, realizing over the years that it didn’t matter if Fred could show it if you’d already seen it.

With apologies to older readers, a history lesson for younger readers. for a while you had to wait for the 11pm news to see Dodgers and Lakers highlights and Fred could show them to you first. Then ESPN came along and Fred could still show them to you, but hours after ESPN. Then came the internet and the smartphone and you could see the highlights whenever you wanted.

“If we just sit there and tell people what they already know,” Rogi said, “there’s no reason for them to watch us.”

It’s not just a problem for Channel 4 or any other TV station. It is an urgent dilemma for any media, including this one.

For some fans, the final score is still news at 11pm or in the morning paper. Not everyone looks at the screen at night. But for those who do, how do you attract viewers or readers?

For a time, KNBC-TV Channel 4 heavily promoted Fred Rogin under his own label; “Fred’ll show it to you!” Roggin more or less ceded the heavy sports audience to ESPN and focused on everyone else.

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Roggin more or less ceded the heavy sports audience to ESPN and focused on everyone else, with “Hall of Shame” bloopers and “Roggin’s Heroes” segments, the sports TV talk show “Going Roggin” and “The Challenge” as a post-game show.

And on Friday night, even in a market of 20 million, he delivered high school football.

“I always believed that was the point where we could fly our flag,” he said. “When you pick up The LA Times or check it online, the top story isn’t about a high school kid or a high school game.”

Some days it is. The Times is committed to the dynamic duo of Eric Sondheimer and Luca Evans in high schools because The Times sees, like Rogin, an opportunity to build a new audience.

It might work. It may not.

That, indeed, was Rogin’s essence. Everything he tried didn’t work, but he tried. In this age when teams and leagues offer scores, highlights and interviews, shouldn’t a local sports report offer something different?

“That’s not how local sports are treated across the country,” Rogin said. “It’s points and highlights. With respect to everyone who does this and does such a great job, it just doesn’t hold the relevance it used to.

“That’s why you see local sports programming dying.”

There will still be local sports coverage in Los Angeles, on Channel 4 and beyond. After Thursday, however, they will no longer be shown live next to Mr. Rogin.


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