Organized chaos. Well, mostly organized, chaos.
That pretty well describes the process of bringing you "Football Frenzy" every Friday night during the football season.
A high school football show had long been a dream of mine since i took over as sports director in 1984. It wasn't until the station underwent a dramatic expansion during the 1990's in both personnel, and equipment, that it became possible.
Now on most football Friday's we will have anywhere from four to six videographers (shooters) traveling all over the Mid Ohio Valley to bring you high school football action of your favorite schools.
We try to give shooters two game assignments, based on their geographic locations. So a shooter might hit the first half of a Williamstown Yellowjacket home game, and the second half a Marietta Tigers home game. Other natural assignments include St.Marys-Frontier; Fort Frye-Waterford, PHS-South, etc.
Our shooters vary from week to week. They include people you would know, like myself and many of our on air talent. One of our best shooters is Roger Sheppard. He has to be the only TV station General Manager in the country out shooting video on Friday night.
There's nothing like being down on the field shooting a high school football game. You can feel the excitement of the players and the crowd. You are right up where the action is, and when you get a great shot of a great play, your are just as pumped as the players. I've been asked who I root for when I'm at games. I root for great highlights. Spectacular plays that come my way, and I know will make the viewers say "Wow!".
Once the games are over, the hard work really begins. Everybody descends on the station roughly at about the same time to edit the video and write the highlight shot sheets.
In the old days, when we shot on tape, it would be a real zoo. You would have 4 or 5 shooters, and only 3 edit bays. And with the clock ticking away to an 11:15pm start time, it was a nerve wracking wait for your turn to edit. Many times a game story would still be in the editing process, after Football Frenzy had already begun.
These days we shoot with tape-less Sony XD camera. We come back to the station and ingest a computer disc into a server. A non-linear editing system has been installed on all the newsroom computers. So essentially, everybody has their own edit bay at their desk.
While the editing is going on, the phones (hopefully) are ringing off the hook with schools calling in the scores of their games. We ask the coaches to call in every game, home and away. We also ask for key stats, and information on game breaking plays. Since it is not possible to have a reporter dedicated to cover every game of ever team in our area, We absolutely rely on the coaches to call in the results of their games. If we don't hear from a team, we'll do everything we can to track down the score. But if you don't see your team's score, it's because we haven't heard from them.
While the newsroom is working on it's Football Frenzy responsibilities, the Control Room is also gearing up for the show. Jim, our graphics operator, is updating the ticker you see at the bottom of the screen. Jason, the director, is working with the script, blocking out the shots, and setting up the switcher. While Zach, our studio coordinator, is preparing the Football Frenzy set and setting up the camera shots.
Then at 11:15 on Friday nights, ready or not, here we go with Football Frenzy. In many ways, doing the show is the easiest part. You get into a flow, the adrenaline is pumping, and it's just plain fun. The show seems to fly by, and before you know it we're signing off for another week.
This year, I have a new co-host for Football Frenzy. Lauren Sisler comes to us from a Roanoke Virginia TV station. She loves sports, especially high school football, and I'm looking forward to working with her.
Every Friday will be an adventure, with new stories to tell, and highlights to hone. Every week, out of chaos comes.... Frenzy.