WTAP Suffers "Heidi" moment after U.S. Open

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Recalling famouos 1968 football broadcast mis-cue

Anyone who is an avid fan of televised sports knows what is meant by the “Heidi Bowl.”

That was when NBC, in 1968, threw a switch that put a version of “Heidi” on the air over the last minute or so of a thrilling football game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders. The NBC switchboard lit up and fans went crazy. It was so bad that the network had to issue an apology and played those missing few plays later in an evening newscast!



Well, WTAP had a smaller version of a “Heidi Moment” this week at the conclusion of the U.S. Open Golf Tourney.



As most of you know, that 72-hole tournament ended Sunday with Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate locked in a tie. The rules of the tourney called for them to play an 18-hole play-off on Monday, which they did. At the end of those additional 18 holes, they were tied again.



Next came sudden death, in which Tiger Woods prevailed and took home his 14th major tournament win.



So far, so good. NBC’s coverage here on WTAP went fine and I have to tell you that our high definition (HDTV) signal of the U.S. Open was magnificent.



Because golf ran long on our NBC station, we had to run over the Oprah Winfrey Show. No problem.  But at about the time they were going to hand Tiger the trophy and interview him about the victory, we cut to “Oprah” instead.



Our phone lines didn’t light up too much, and many folks had an alternate NBC station to go to. But we did get several irate, angry calls.



To those callers and anyone else inconvenienced by this, I sincerely apologize.



It was a computer glitch.



We had programmed the computers that tell each of our three TV stations what to run at any given moment, NOT to go to the Oprah show for the first 15 or 20 minutes of her program, when we saw golf running over. But we failed to tell the computers to stay with golf, when it ran to the 19th hole and beyond. So when the time came for the commercial break in Oprah, our computers took it.



As close to a “Heidi” moment as we ever want to come.

Again, our apologies.



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