ARTICLE OF THE DAY
 
Behind the Scenes this Season
by Billy Weaver
8/11/06

With football season quickly approaching, sports writers, producers and the rest of us media hacks are getting set for one last chance to recharge the batteries before all the fun begins. Believe it or not, football season is very long and at times very tiring.

Don't get me wrong, it's by far the best time of the year and football media members are some of the luckiest people on the planet. We get paid to go to the best stadiums in the country and report on the greatest game on earth. But as the old saying goes... "there is such a thing as too much of a good thing." By the end of November most of us are begging for a break.

Football season in eastern North Carolina is a seven-day-a-week job. Here's a little insight on a typical football week at WITN.

Monday: Brian Meador and I meet every Monday at 11am (except Monday's prior to an ECU off week) at ECU's Murphy Center to attend Skip Holtz's weekly press conference. It sets the table for everything we do leading up to the game on Saturday. By 2pm, it's off to Washington to prepare for the nightly 6pm and 11pm newscasts. At 11:35pm we begin producing a rundown for the Pirate Pre-game show. I typically get home somewhere around 1am.

Tuesday: My day begins at about 2pm. When I arrive at WITN, I immediately try to get a jump start on the 6pm newscast and the Pirate report of the day. By the way, there is a Pirate report in each newscast of the day, written, produced and edited by me and Brian. Once again, at 11:35pm the work continues on the Pirate Pre-Game show. Writing, producing and editing a half-hour special every week takes a lot of time. Once again, it's 1am by the time I get home.

Wednesday: One of the toughest days of the week. That afternoon we typically head to football practice at ECU. It's our final chance to interview Pirate players prior to Saturday's game. This is when we shoot many of our feature stories for the Skip Holtz Show and player profiles for the Pirate Pre-Game Show. Following the 11pm newscast, all final touches need to be made for Thursday's 9pm taping of the Pirate Pre-Game Show. That usually keeps me in the WITN edit bays until about 2am. I'm typically home by about 2:30am.

Thursday: That's when we turn up the heat. All finishing touches have to be made prior to the taping of the Pirate Pre-Game Show which airs the following night at 7:30. Just imagine how whacked-out the schedule was a few years ago when East Carolina was playing football games on nearly every day of the week. (Those Friday games still leave a bad taste in the mouths of area High School coaches.) Speaking of high school football, following the 11pm newscast, the work continues as Brian and I begin to map out a game plan for the next night's Football Express. Trying to figure out an effective game plan to cover schools in 29 counties can be a headache.

Friday: On Fridays when ECU is either off or at home it's all high school football. We preview the high school game of the week at six o'clock and following the early newscast, Brian and I join a number of other photographers to each shoot at least two high school football games which usually means driving all over eastern North Carolina. (of course we don't break any traffic laws!) Usually about a dozen games must be produced and edited prior to the airing of the Football Express at 11:15pm.

When ECU is on the road, Brian and I are in town with the team. That's a whole different animal.

Saturday: The best day of the week, although just as hectic and sometimes even more so. Brian and I both shoot every play of every ECU game. I'm replaced when WITN airs an ECU game since I'm in the booth with Jeff Charles. By the way, on WITN televised games I must find time during the week to prepare for the telecast. That's usually done at home prior to the start of each work day. Following the game,  it's post-game interviews and the taping of the Skip Holtz Show. Taping, producing and editing that show keeps the WITN crew in the studios until about 5am on average. Brian loves those 20 hour days!

Sunday: Did I mention that we have a professional football team a few hours to the northwest? The Carolina Panthers are one of the teams favored to go to the Super Bowl this year and if you don't cover the regular season games in person... good luck getting press passes for the big show. A trip to Charlotte turns into yet another 12-to-14 hour day.

Then it starts all over again the following Monday!

Did I mention I wouldn't trade my job for any other job in the world? I'll see you at the game.

Billy Weaver
billy.weaver@witntv.com