HASTILY CALLED PRESS CONFERENCE PUTS TV IN TOUGH SPOT
After the Arizona football team lost to Oregon State on Saturday, Oct. 8, extending its winless streak against Division I opponents to 10 games, UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne decided a coaching change was in order, and he laid the groundwork to pull the plug on the Mike Stoops era.
However, news about the decision didn't make the rounds until well after 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10. At that point, the UA athletic department made an on-the-fly call to conduct a press conference with athletic director Greg Byrne and UA President Eugene Sander at 6 p.m. that evening.
The timeline: News outlets had 46 minutes between the time a press conference was announced by Tom Duddleston, the UA sports-information director, and the time when the press conference started.
That's enough time for members of the media to get there—but local television news sources had almost no chance to carry the press conference live, because there just wasn't enough time to set up the necessary equipment.
Firing the UA's football coach is a pretty big deal, and it stands to reason that if a press conference is scheduled for 6 p.m., when three local television stations are running newscasts, they might want to pre-empt their scheduled stories to broadcast the presser live. But in most cases, they couldn't—and in the case of KGUN Channel 9, there's some debate as to whether they should have, given the quality of its video feed.
Local TV news doesn't just magically appear. There's setup time required to get to a location, run cable, raise the antenna, make contact with the home base, and get the feed operational. The locations of at least two of the television stations' offices made the situation more difficult. KOLD Channel 13 is located near Cortaro Road and Interstate 10—a half-hour from the UA. KGUN is located near Kolb Road and Speedway Boulevard, but was fortunate enough to have sports director Dave Silver on hand for a live shot, as the station had planned a story based on UA fan reaction to the string of losses. KVOA Channel 4 had the proximity advantage: Its studios are near Elm Street and Sixth Avenue.
So ... stations needed to get trucks to the location, run cable to a portion of McKale Center that isn't the easiest to access, set up sound and lighting, and get a connection back to the station—in 46 minutes.
That didn't happen. Instead, viewers got newscasts filled with a bunch of confusion. KOLD ran the majority of its newscast with no video, and relied on running commentary by anchors Heather Rowe and Dan Marries. KGUN managed to get a Skype feed of the event—the only video provided live by any station—but there were points when the quality was so deteriorated that audio dropped out, while the video looked as though the press conference was being conducted on Mars.
Duddleston admits that things were moving fast. The plan: Byrne wanted the media informed by 5:15; he'd meet with the players at 5:30; he'd send out his weekly e-mail featuring information about the Stoops firing at 5:45; and he'd meet with the media at 6. Duddleston says he suggested holding off on the Byrne/Sander press conference until the next day, but athletic department officials "felt that was less-appealing than just getting it done."
They probably should have heeded Duddleston's suggestion.
By 5:30, news of Stoops' firing was already known. Numerous media outlets were running with the story, so the press conference in and of itself was not a new-information occurrence; it simply gave Byrne and Sander the opportunity to comment on the decision. But due to the rapid-fire nature of the event, no media outlets could properly carry it live.
The press conference was clearly something people would want to watch, or have access to, and waiting an additional day would have given the university the potential for additional coverage on Fox Sports or one of ESPN's many television platforms—as opposed to the passing mention the dismissal ultimately received.
A next-day press conference, scheduled, say, somewhere between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. would have given news outlets plenty of time to make appropriate plans in terms of equipment setup and scheduling pre-emptions—and it would have given the fan base an opportunity to watch the usually media-savvy Byrne address the press about his biggest decision to date.
PARKER EXITS 'IN THE HOUSE'
Citing a plethora of other media-related activities, Glenn Parker concluded his stint on In the House this week.
The daily sports-talk show, which aired for six years with Parker at the helm on KCUB AM 1290, will move forward with hosts Kevin Woodman and Rob Lantz in its 3 to 6 p.m. weekday slot.
Parker is involved in a number of other media-related endeavors, from color commentary of college football games on Versus to a college-football studio show recorded weekly in New York City, not to mention seasonal work with other sports in Phoenix. Ultimately, the grind became too much.
"I think that's a big part of it," said Parker while in Pullman, Wash., for the football game between Stanford and Washington State. "I'm doing the Versus deal back in New York every week. Is it fair to (KCUB) to be on the air two days a week after I've taken most of the summer off? Even though it was always accepted I could do that, is it always the best thing? Am I branding a product with my name that I'm not there for anymore? Now is the time. They were great to me. I got to the point where I'm traveling all the time, and I'm not being fair to them."
Parker founded the show with Dean Greenberg. When Greenberg moved on, Parker asked Woodman to come aboard.
"The ability to sit and have fun with Kevin for a couple of hours a day, and let our minds wander, (was my favorite part about doing the show)," Parker said.
For disclosure purposes: I work at KCUB on its broadcasts of UA football and men's basketball pregame and postgame shows.