How We Did It

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

“From Bethlehem School District Stadium in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, RCN4 Sports presents…”  That is how it all began this past Friday night when we were set to begin the broadcast of the Northampton at Freedom football game.

But, it was a lie.  I wasn’t at Bethlehem School District Stadium and neither was color analyst, Mike Joseph.  Instead, we were comfortably sitting in the RCN TV studio.  In the 50+ years of doing high school and college sports, I have never called a game I was not attending in person (I know, a double negative in one sentence, but you try to say it differently).

I have announced two events that were played prior to “announcing” them.  In the days when we did almost everything “tape delay”, I once had to re-call a football game when the audio never made it to the tape.  After the game, I sat in our production truck and watched the video and called the game again from my notes.  I, also, once announced a District XI track meet after the meet was over and the results were known.  This was done because track events go on at the same time so we taped the events, edited them to show each event and, then, called the meet.  Since I knew the results, I looked like a genius as I announced favorites, who just so happened to win.

This was different.  Mike and I were being asked to call a LIVE game as it was happening without being at the game.  I was vehemently opposed to this strategy.  It was all being done because of RCN’s strict COVID policy.  Social distancing was not possible in our production truck if an audio technician and other personnel needed to be present at the game.  We even used two trucks to keep everyone separated. The audio person had to be in the studio.  Our studio manager devised the plan with great thought and experienced technical knowledge.  As stubborn and apprehensive as I was, I understood the safety concerns, and the challenge was accepted.

At the game, we had a crew of three camera people, a spotter, a replay person, a director, and an engineer to make sure things went well technically.  The studio personnel consisted of a studio director, an audio person, a cameraman, a graphics person, a standby engineer, and a contact with the spotter at the stadium.  Mike and I were at their mercy.

We were able to watch the game like those of you at home.  In addition, we had a camera shot of the stadium scoreboard.  Days, prior to the actual event, we rehearsed the process.

As a play unfolded, our stadium spotter relayed the ball carrier or receiver to our studio contact who relayed the information to me.  Turns out, it was pretty much instantaneous.  We got terrific shots with needed replays, but that is just normal for our talented crew.  In addition, the studio contact kept individual stats and I kept the team stats.  A play required me to call it, Mike to analyze it, and take a second look at the replay.  It worked about as smoothly as possible.

There were two drawbacks – it was hard to sense the atmosphere at the game, but with few fans allowed in attendance, I’m sure the atmosphere was minimal.  With COVID conditions, the bands are not performing as they normally would and that is a shame.  The Lehigh Valley has plenty of great bands to highlight.  I admire all of the high school band performers for continuing to put in the hours of work necessary.  Luckily, we have a treasure chest of halftime band performances which we will use for this year’s games.

So this old veteran of broadcasting high school football games needs to eat a bit of crow.  Because of the talents of our camera people, our audio person, our directors, our engineers, graphics, etc., it all worked.

The plan goes back into effect again next Friday and Saturday.  I didn’t think I would say it but, I CAN’T WAIT!

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

  1. Guess which team is in first place in the NFC East? With one win and a tie, the Philadelphia Eagles are atop their division.  I mentioned every week how weak this division was.  Except for the Eagles, they all lost again this past week.  The teams are a combined 3-15-1.  The good news is an NFC East team WILL win the division.
  1. Speaking of standings, the two NFL surprises are the Bills and the Bucs. The Bills are 4-1 and the Bucs with Tom Brady have won three straight.  Let’s hope Covid doesn’t derail the season.  It is very entertaining already.
  1. Eight teams are left in the MLB playoffs. Who do you like?  Who do you hate?  The Rays against the Yankees and the Astros against the A’s promise to be very emotional match-ups in the ALDS.  There are plenty of grudges to go around.  The Dodgers look almost unbeatable in the National League.
  1. Parkland will finally get to play a game this coming weekend. The Trojans will take on Whitehall Friday night at Parkland.  Hopefully, there will be no more disruptions in either team’s schedule.
  1. Our scheduled high school football games this week are Bethlehem Catholic at Liberty on Friday night and Freedom at Easton (at BSD) on Saturday night. Both are LIVE at 7:00.

 

Gary’s Guesses: NFL Picks – (LAST WEEK – 11-4; OVERALL- 46-16-1 – 74%)                  

Tampa Bay

Arizona

Dallas

Carolina

Kansas City

New England

LA Rams

Houston

Buffalo

Pittsburgh

Baltimore

San Francisco

Indianapolis

Seattle

New Orleans

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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