Student broadcasters work for ESPN during football playoffs at the Fargodome
On the Tuesday morning of finals week, NDSU junior Nathan Anderson thought the call from North Carolina was a telemarketer and let it go to voicemail.
The call was from ESPN.
The sports network wanted to know if he could work as stage manager at the Dec. 17 NCAA Division I football playoff game at the Fargodome. “I freaked out a little bit,” said Anderson, a new media and Web design major from Sartell, Minn., and production manager for the Bison Information Network, NDSU’s student-run television station. “Never in a million years did I think they would call me, especially when I’m still in college.”
Anderson and seven other BIN students worked for ESPN during the Division I football playoffs at the Fargodome in December. “Working with ESPN is a perk of being a Division I institution,” said Rich Lodewyk, broadcast program director at NDSU. “ESPN being here three weeks in a row has provided a tremendous experience for the students. This was an opportunity many students across the country don’t get.”
The NDSU athletics department recommended BIN students after ESPN asked for a list of local people who had broadcast experience to fill behind-the-scenes positions. “We thought it would be a nice opportunity for students,” said Jeremy Jorgenson, director of sales and broadcasting for NDSU athletics.
Junior Ryan Nelson, sports director at BIN, arranged for student broadcasters to fill positions and worked at all three games. For the first two games, he provided statistics, trends and other information to the ESPN play-by-play and color commentators. For the last game, he helped with set up and tear down and worked as a grip during the game.
“ESPN is the top of the ladder, and being able to work with them and being treated as an important part of the production team were pretty special,” said Nelson, a double major in broadcast journalism and new media and Web design from Roseau, Minn.
The ‘red hat’
Matt Kurtz, BIN sports reporter and anchor from Bismarck, N.D., was time-out coordinator, or “red hat,” all three weeks. His job was to stop play for TV timeouts and to make sure play didn’t resume until the game was on air again. “This is a very important job,” Lodewyk said. “This position is why you never miss a play when you watch a game on TV.”
Kurtz said the first game was stressful because the position was a new experience. “You get into a rhythm,” he said. “You get a feeling for when timeouts naturally occur.”
The most challenging part was maintaining a neutral demeanor throughout the game. “It’s hard to stand there with your arms crossed when good things happen,” said Kurtz, who graduated Dec. 16.
The stage manager
Anderson, who had worked as stage manager at the first two playoff games, was thrilled to be contacted directly about the third game. “That was huge for me,” he said.
As stage manager, Anderson’s job was to cue the ESPN play-by-play and color commentators. He communicated what content they should cover and when they should do things, such as wrap up for a commercial break.
Anderson started at BIN as a floor manager for the weekly newscast. That experience, he said, was good preparation for the stage manager role. “I learned how well the university has prepared me in general,” he said.
“This is an example of athletics providing hands-on, real-world experience that takes what we’re teaching in the classroom and puts it on a national stage,” Lodewyk said.
Other BIN students who worked for ESPN are Ryan Borstelmann, Jake Tschida, Morgan Lubben, Riley Durkin and Brandon Clark.
For more information about BIN, please visit www.ndsubin.com.