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For 24 years, Paul Peck covered the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres as part of his duties as a full-time sportscaster for Channel 4, in Buffalo.
For less than a year, the New Jersey native has been the play-by-play man for the "Beat The Champ" show, which has been resurrected on WBBZ-TV (MeTV) out of Buffalo (channel 67.1 over the air and cable 72 in Genesee County).
Peck said he has been overwhelmed by the response from the bowling community and the popularity of the show -- which features the best bowlers in the area in scratch singles (no handicap) competition.
"It has been an incredible experience," said Peck during a break in taping on Wednesday at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia, where four shows to be aired in December were produced. "I've had more people come up to me and more feedback than I did in 25 years of covering the Bills."
Peck and company's appearance in Batavia continued the wave of success the show has been riding since about a dozen or so bowling centers in Western New York put up $6,000 each to be able to host qualifying rounds and the actual taping of the shows on a monthly basis.
He said he has found bowlers to be passionate about their sport, and has come to realize than many bowlers throughout the region remember the original "Beat The Champ" show hosted by Chuck Healy and then Van Miller on Channel 4 in the 1960s, '70s and '80s.
"The show has a cool place in people's memories," said Peck, who left Channel 4 about four and a half years ago and now is a financial professional for AXA Advisors in Buffalo and sports personality for the University of Buffalo.
Peck said he was apprehensive at first about joining the show -- since he has a limited knowledge of bowling -- but noted that he has received much encouragement from longtime bowlers, including his co-host Sue Nawojski, of Buffalo, one of the finest women bowlers in New York State.
"Things have gone very well thus far, and my friend and mentor, Van Miller, would be proud to know that we have kept this tradition alive," he added.
John DiSciullo, WBBZ-TV promotion and production coordinator, said the show is getting very favorable ratings and, just as importantly, has "created an awareness of bowling that we haven't seen locally in a long time." He indicated that the show has been renewed for another season.
Mancuso Bowling Center proprietor Rick Mancuso said he opted in as a way to bring "something that is good for the bowling community .... and I think that has been accomplished."
He also said he was pleased that two Batavia bowlers qualified for the TV show -- Rich Wagner and Fred Gravanda.
"Both of them are great guys, at two different spectrums of their careers, Rich being a younger guy (33) and Fred (at 66), the old war horse," he said, acknowledging both their accomplishments over the years.
He said he is contemplating staying with the show for another year, but would like to see it expand.
"We would love to see the show move a bit more east and northeast of Batavia so we can attract a larger market," he said, referring to the Rochester area. "That would definitely affect us in a greater way."
"Beat The Champ" officials said they are looking into the possibility of going into other areas of the state.
Photo at top -- The on-air trio of Janelle Sabin, left, scorekeeper; and commentators Sue Nawojski and Paul Peck spent the day at Mancuso Bowling Center in Batavia on Wednesday for the taping of four "Beat The Champ" bowling shows, which will be broadcast on WBBZ-TV (MeTV) during the month of December. Click on the Pin Points tab at the top of this page for more photos by Mike Pettinella, bowling columnist and reporter for The Batavian, the region's No. 1 source for online news.