Sunday, November 24, 2013

The FCIAC Championship Game

One of the four banners at Friday night's game.
I've had almost 48 hours to ponder our first game broadcast on Hersam Acorn Sports: the 2013 FCIAC Championship football game.

To be sure, it was a long, strenuous day. Despite my focus being on the game, I still have a paper to write for, and to that end had to make my presence known in Wilton (although not in the Ridgefield office). I'm working on a story about the upcoming toy train fair taking place at the Wilton Historical Society and trust me when I say that it will be very cool (the fair, not the story).

After that, I beat the traffic to the Fairfield area, where I treated myself to a birthday lunch of Moe's. Ah yes, true bliss. Nothing like a burrito to make me happy.

And queso. Must have queso.

With broadcast partner Paul Silverfarb living a few minutes from Moe's, what better place could there be to crash, use some wifi, do a little "Wilton Work", and decompress before the game?

Especially since my sister, who lives around the block, wasn't home (she was, in fact, with my son, ironically). Oh, and I caused Paul's wonderful wife, Beth, to have a slight heart attack, but after we used the paddles, she is back and fully functioning.

The short version is that Paul went and got his sons off the bus. I stayed in his place, continuing to work. In came Beth, having no idea I was sitting there. I tried to warn her but, alas, the plan failed.

After playing a quick game with the Silverfarb's (the kids make me feel like a star), I shot over to Trumbull's McDougall Stadium. The place was empty when I got there, but I set about putting the equipment together. I was ready to go in a reasonable amount of time, soon joined by Paul (wearing the same jacket as me, but a different brand), and Chris Kaelin.

We were ready. Except...

Damn you, Trumbull, and your amazingly inadequate cell phone service. Seriously, how can these conferences put these games in places like this? It really is a necessity in this era to have sufficient service for those trying to work, live tweet, send out stats, etc.

Ridgefield, I'm also looking at you, along with a few others. Hell, even Greenwich can be spotty at Cardinal Stadium.

I'd say get wifi, but let's not get crazy.

* Let me also say that, otherwise, Trumbull is a great facility with great people running it. The atmosphere in that booth was amazingly supportive and helpful. Everyone at Trumbull high ran a top-notch operation.

For me (be it with HAN Radio or WGCH), cell service (or wifi) is crucial. At times, I had one bar - ONE - on my phone. I stepped to the roof of the press box and saw three bars (but that dropped to one later). I worried. I tried Verizon (that's me), and AT&T (Paul and Marty Hersam).

We decided to go with my service.

At first, well, I think it was OK. But then I started seeing texts and iChat messages. Of course, me being me, I began to despair. When Marty Hersam appeared in the booth later in the second quarter, I wondered if we were done.

But not so fast.

Marty had Paul hold the phone in his hand. That seemed to work. Eventually, I watched as my phone got taped (!) to the window. The problem was resolved.

I'm told we had a fairly big audience and despite a few negative reviews due to the drop outs, we also had a lot of nice compliments.

Broadcast-wise, Kato was Kato. He brought good commentary, witty remarks, and worked hard to get interviews after the game.

Paul started out fantastically. He is still very new to the lead analyst chair and has already come a long way. I think Friday night was his third time serving as a lead game analyst.  He got tired later on because he hadn't eaten, and holding the phone out the window got a little exhausting. The energy will drain without some fuel.

Me? Meh. I started off very nervous. I felt like I couldn't mentally organize my thoughts. Initially, I felt like I couldn't identify players either. Overall, it was solid in the end, but of course I think I could be better.

We cranked out a broadcast that went past three and a half-hours. After two days of pure emotion and energy, I was drained. Paul and I grabbed a later dinner (a little after 11:00), and I was on the road by 12:30. Just as I thought, I began to nod off through New Canaan.  Feeling confident that I could take a break (and a nap) in Scotts Corners, I pulled into a parking lot around 1:00. Ten minutes later, I woke up to discover a Pound Ridge (NY) police officer looking at my car.

I explained that I was on my way home, very tired, and just paused to get myself together. He ran my license which, at first, seemed excessive, until I found out that there had been some recent robberies in the area.

"I applaud your taking a break," he said. "But you picked the wrong parking lot."

Satisfied with my tale, and my clean license, he wished me well. With that little episode, I was wide awake again and, finally, my long day ended back home after 2:00 am.

I took Saturday for myself.  Now, with football on in the background, I will again begin spitting out stories for Wilton.

The stress and this pace will take a toll eventually, and I'm sure something will have to give, but it's been an exhilarating stretch. Based on what I know from this week, this is only the beginning of Hersam Acorn Radio.

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