South Florida needs another sports talk radio station like the Marlins need another rookie who couldn't hit a basketball with a two-by-four. But that's exactly what listeners are going to get. As the Miami Herald reported ad nauseam last week, WAFN-AM (1700) will be offering yet more around-the-clock sports talk as of the first week in August.

Apparently the garble of nonstop jock-philosophizing on WQAM-AM (560) is not enough. Not to mention WIOD-AM (610), which offers discussions of men playing games from 7 p.m. until dawn every weekday. Apparently there aren't enough hours in the day for these two stations to get at all the contentious issues of fandom. Such as whether Larry Bird should be ranked ahead of or behind Secretariat (it's a horse for Christ's sake!) on the list of greatest athletes of the century. Or who is the odds-on favorite for this year's SEC bowling title. Or whether the National Football League should put a cap on convicted felons per team, and how this would affect the Dolphins' upcoming season.

We will now be treated to former Marlins first baseman Orestes Destrade and Tony Calatayud (who used to be with WQAM) discussing the finer points of men with balls from 4 to 7 p.m. every day. Even more insufferable, no doubt, will be the 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. time slot. It will likely include a segment of Sports Junkies, which features four twentysomething morons in a bar ranting about sports (as opposed to the other shows, which will feature two or three middle-aged morons in a bar or radio studio ranting about sports). As South Florida's king (or should we say queen?) of talk radio, Neil Rogers, pointed out with regard to Destrade: "We certainly hope he's going to be a better broadcaster than he was a baseball player."

Two men. Each with a problem. Each seeing the solution in the other man's hands. A meeting was only natural. And last Friday it occurred, as Sean Cononie, founder and director of the Hollywood homeless shelter known as the COSAC Foundation, sat down to talk things over with Tom Cardozo, director of single-copy sales for the Miami Herald.

Cononie's problem was this: Despite legal assistance from the ACLU, the orange-hatted panhandling brigades that fund his shelter remain vulnerable to police sweeps like the one that occurred last month in Weston. Unless and until the homeless lobby manages to crowbar the words "spare-changing one's fellow man" into the Bill of Rights, his people will always be at risk. Cardozo's problem is this: His hawker crews are pissed off because they keep losing paper sales and moneymaking intersections to the COSAC orange hats. The proposed solution? Put Heralds in the hands of the orange hats. That way Cardozo gets competition-free intersections, while Cononie gets to have his troops protected by the invisible force field known as the First Amendment.

It would seem a match made in heaven -- except in the eyes of county bureaucrats. Cononie says Steve Werthman, Broward County homeless coordinator, has already informed him that the Homeless Initiative Partnership, a powerful county advisory board, will "likely frown on this idea." Well, what else is new? When it comes to Broward bureaucrats, the frowns seem painted on their faces. The county has never liked the idea of street solicitations, and news-hawking isn't all that different. But Cononie says he cares less and less about what the county thinks. Although nothing was finalized at last week's meeting, talks with the Herald will continue.

-- as told to Tom Walsh

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Tom Walsh
Contact: Tom Walsh