What If Someone Held the Olympic Games and Nobody Cared

The Summer Olympics Games are here, the Summer Olympic Games are here….Yah, I can see everyone is getting hyped up about them. I’m not and I used to really look forward to them. I remember back when I was a sophomore in high school, one teacher actually dragged in a TV set and allowed us to watch the 1972 Summer Olympics during class. I can’t remember his name but there was a tall, skinny Cuban who ran and did extremely well in some of the track events. And Mark Spitz did very, very well in the swimming competitions. I even remember the joke: How do you fill the Olympic swimming pool? Mark (spits) Spitz. Hey, I said I remembered the joke, I didn’t say it was that funny. Actually Johnny Carson may have been responsible for that particular funny. Anyway, I just haven’t gotten excited about the Olympic games and I think part of the blame goes to the schedule. It used to be that the games were held every four years with the Summer Games and the Winter Games within six months of each other. Now with the games staggered, every two years, they just don’t seem as special. Also, video of the games is delayed even though the results have been released so there really isn’t, IMHO, that much to get excited about. I know my lovely and talented bride was complaining that NBC will be showing the games on MSNBC during the day which was interfering with her “political fix”. I can imagine she’ll be cranky about that until the games are over and she can get her political “freak” back on.

The Olympic Games have reminded me of both good and not so good memories. I actually got cross ways with the station manager at the ABC affiliate I worked at in Ft. Myers, Florida over the “Olympic pins” the station wanted the anchors to wear on air. I didn’t mind wearing pins in general on the lapel of my jacket but if I remember correctly, this particular pin was about the size of a thumbnail and was bright white with the ABC logo on it. Our studio cameras were so bad and the logo on the pin fail to stand out and it looked like a white blob or as I had the poor judgment to describe it, “like a bird pooped on my jacket”. Let me say I learned a couple of lessons about Olympic pins in general and self-important anchors in particular. I tried to avoid repeat trips to the station manager’s office after that. lol  Larry Landecker, I don’t know if you read this blog but you were right and I was wrong!!!

Having said all of that I can tell you that one of the most memorable promotions I was participating in involved the Olympics, specifically the 1998 Winter Olympics held in Nagano, Japan.  Each morning after the Daybreak show ended, we had to record a promotion that would air that night during the 10 o’clock news. Well, I got the idea that we should record a generic promo IN JAPANESE. I wrote the promo and found someone at the University of Memphis State University who translated it and helped me write a phonetic version so I could load it into our teleprompter. Then, wearing our promotional Olympic medals that CBS was handing out to promote the Winter Games, Marybeth Conley, Joey Hadley, Todd Demers and I recorded this promo with its English subtitles and it ran for the duration of the Winter Games. Let me go on the record to say Todd and Marybeth are natural linguists (please do post a response on the term “cunning”….thanks in advance) while Joey and I struggled through this. All in all it was great fun and for those who care to take a gander, I posted it below. Now, let the games begin.

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8 Comments on “What If Someone Held the Olympic Games and Nobody Cared”

  1. Doug Johnson Says:

    What an interesting promo. I have absolutely NO memory of ever seeing that. And I know I was still at the station at the time, because I’ve still got my rarely-worn CBS News “Nagano” baseball cap (the network’s affiliate news service gave out free hats whenever you did them a solid on a story, since the network was too cheap to spring for anything else. I’ve still got a half-dozen CBS News hats of various types, even though I haven’t worked at a CBS station in 9 years).

    We never did anything remotely that interesting when I co-anchored the morning news (maybe that’s why they only let me do it for 6 months!).

    And by the way, since you didn’t tell the story, I will. I was having lunch the other day with our estimable host and another former NC3 anchor, Pam Crittendon. Someone at the restaurant recognized Joe and Pam… and left me wanting to say “hi, I’m chopped liver, glad to meet you!” I tell ya, I don’t get no respect!

  2. joelarkins Says:

    You know, back in the day, I remember the networks used to pay some nominal fee for locally produced stories that were of national or regional interest. It seems to me that NBC was the first to NOT pay for such stories deciding instead to give contributors a “pat on the back and an ‘atta boy’ “. CBS soon followed their lead. Much to my dismay I have only ONE CBS hat however it was for a story that still has legs. It was for the first “jumping fish” story CBS ever aired and a story that, when people aren’t asking me if I’m Joe Birch, they tell me they still remember. In fact my legacy will be the jumping fish and being confused with Joe Birch. Maybe someday someone will ask me if I’m Doug Johnson. Hey, I once had a person ask me if I was Les Smith, who was doing sports at WREG at the time. Now Les and I REALLY look alike.

  3. Pam Crittendon Roberson Says:

    You and I must be having some shared memory problems because I don’t remember this promo, either. It was great!

    And don’t worry, lot’s of people like chopped liver.

  4. Chris in Brasil Says:

    Hey, Joe…just checking in. I’m looking forward to our next cup of coffee next summer!

    I think the same thing that is happening in the US is happening here in Brasil. You know it wasn’t but a few years ago that you had one network, one channel and you were at their mercy. I think it’s overkill with all the sister networks of a major network carrying so much. You lose interest. It’s psychological. My opinion.

    There are several television networks here in Brasil believe it or not. One of them, Bandeirantes, is carrying everything that is out there. Their coverage began early this morning and will go into the night/morning. Globo is like NBC. Globo has several sister networks including sports network networks. The Olympic games are all over the place here. Overkill.

    I think having the games alternate every two years has hurt enthusiasm. If we had Christmas every 6 months, it wouldn’t be special. Wait Hallmark already has their ornaments out.

    And one other thought, the world, especially the American public has an insatiable appetite for bigger and better. Did you see any of the opening this morning? Now, how does “whoever” top that in 2 years?

    The games are important, don’t get me wrong. And I support the USA (and Brasil!). But instead of every four years being an Olympic year, it’s every two, and that, I think, is boring.

    But as with everything, the dollar rules! If it makes a buck, you’ll see it.

  5. Joe Says:

    I saw the jumping fish story on the web, and I still remember it. It needs to be on YouTube.

  6. joelarkins Says:

    Okay Doug and Pam. Maybe that promo ran in a parallel universe. Or it may have fallen victim to what always happens to promos that are supposed to run during a newscast. Somebody’s live shot, weather shot or sportscast went long and it got killed on a nightly basis by a producer who hadn’t built in enough time. To be honest, I’d never know if it actually ran because I was always asleep during the 10 o’clock news. Now if Jerry Tate chimes in to say he never saw it that would mean it WAS killed on a regular basis. Perhaps JT will check in as he told me he reads this blog on occasion.
    And Joe G., let me see if I can round up the jumping fish story and I will post it just for you.

  7. Jamey Says:

    I’m not that JT but I do remember the promo and I’m almost certain it ran.
    Todd and Mary Beth and Joey could probably tell you about another Daybreak promo that didn’t run that played off the Mid-South Fair and a rollercoaster.

  8. joelarkins Says:

    Jamey, I was out of town when you guys recorded the infamous “rollercoaster” promo that resulted in a call on the carpet. From the way it was described it was a classic. Thanks for checking in.

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