Power outage creates mayhem for Super Bowl announcers

When the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Sunday’s Super Bowl, perhaps the biggest story was not the game itself.  Rather the 35-minute power outage that stalled the game came to the forefront of post-game stories.

When the power outage first occurred, CBS immediately jumped to a commercial break, and upon its return, went to the sideline reporter Steve Tasker because the primary announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were in the region of the stadium that was affected by the outage.

Tasker was forced to ad-lib for several minutes, and was relatively uncomfortable, providing uninformative and unpolished commentary. At this time, no one knew what the problem was, and Tasker wasn’t easing the confusion. Alas, CBS jumped to their pregame and post-game crew to kill some time, as the problem was attempted to be resolved. The quartet of James Brown, Bill Cowher, Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe were equally as unprepared as Tasker, giving choppy reports with little or no value.

Once the power returned, the NFL and Superdome officials were relieved of their embarrassment, but perhaps the people that were most thrilled with the game returning was the CBS crew, who came out of the debacle with the appearance that it is unable to freelance when confronted with an unexpected intermission.

All in all, it was not a good moment for broadcast journalists.

What ways can on-air journalist prepare for the unexpected like in Sunday’s contest? How may have other television broadcasts handled the situation in a more professional fashion? When on-air talent recognizes that things aren’t going as planned, how can it be fixed?

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One Comment on “Power outage creates mayhem for Super Bowl announcers”

  1. Kyla Ross says:

    When the unexpected occurs, I think the best way to handle the situation is with humor and a smile. I think it’s okay for an on-air broadcaster to admit he or she doesn’t know what the problem may be, as long as they do it in a calm manner. Reassuring the audience that they are working to fix the issue and report the facts to them as fast as possible would ease the confusion. It is better than making uninformed reports. Making jokes would calm viewers and prevent them from changing the channel. It’s important to stay professional and calm but also quick on your feet. Improvisation would be very helpful as well. It reminds me of flight attendants on airplanes. For example, during turbulence, worried flyers would look to the reactions of flight attendants to know if there is any potential danger. If the flight attendant is calm and comfortable, so is the flyer. The same goes for anyone who is on-air during an unforeseen situation.


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