Local sports coverage on our local affiliates is not what it used to be. In the not-so-distant past, evening and late-night news casts brought informative coverage to quench our sporting thirst.
Today, not so much. The weatherpersons have hijacked the stations. Warn Team, Titan 4D, Doppler 8000 and Double Doppler. When will it all end? I'm pretty sure most of the claims are cheap scare tactics. You know, keep watching or else! Breaking News--later in the broadcast! We are about to be hit with a storm of fair to partly cloudy!
Alas, this is not a weather column. Although, I could complain about local newscasts all day long. This is my first (or fifth) public service announcement.
The Cox Channel is revamping its local programming, and one of the new programs is fascinating. SportsNight Oklahoma is a new, unique, 30-minute sports show obviously intended to fill a needed gap.
"July 23 was the first day of the show," said co-host Mike Wolfe. (You may remember Wolfe from his days at Channel Six.) "I could do my job (at 6) with my hands tied behind my back. It was easy. I was to a point where I needed to find something that fit my personality and gave me a chance to grow. This job allows me to do that," explained Wolfe.
SNO is bringing sports coverage to diehards and casual viewers alike. Aside from the 30-minute time slot, which allows for more in-depth coverage, the stories themselves aren't of the cookie-cutter, been-there-done-that variety. Refreshing.
Wolfe's experience is a real boon to the show.
Not only is his mug recognizable, but he is familiar with the sporting landscape in which he is now working.
"I've lived in Tulsa longer than I've lived anywhere else in my life," he said of his 11 years in T-Town.
"I had ideas before, but a lot of time it was like, 'We don't have time for that' or 'Somebody else has this idea.' This is so much more of an opportunity with a 30-minute show to pretty much do whatever we want," Wolfe said during an interview just a few feet down the hall from where the studio portion of the show if filmed.
The show typically starts with Wolfe cascading down a flight of steps. The scenery was developed to recreate a bachelor-type pad. You know, where the fellas hang out and watch sports. The only thing missing from the backdrop is a plasma TV, a Kegerator and a set of golf clubs. Yes, Wolfe is an avid golfer.
The show is more than just highlights. Sure, you will get your fair share of updates as well, but the premise is to tell the stories behind the athletes.
"Our guests are usually on between four and six minutes. You don't even get that much time in an entire day at an affiliate. We used to get seven and a half minutes total and that usually got cut. We're getting six (minutes) for just an interview," said Wolfe.
The first question that came to mind when I caught wind of the show was, "How are they going to fill 30 minutes a night, five nights a week?"
Part of the answer lies in the length of the features. Some interviews will last up to 10 minutes. But what about ideas? They'll eventually run out of stories, right?
"One of the things everybody kept asking me when I took this job was 'How are you going to fill 30 minutes, five nights a week? It's hard enough to fill 30 minutes one night a week.' I'm like, I don't know. We'll do it," Wolfe said.
One of my favorite stories thus far illustrated the brilliance of the show's premise. A 'mature' group playing croquet captured the essence of Tulsa sports. It was a feel-good story that ranked high on the unintentional comedy scale. Again, you're not getting this story anywhere else.
Wolfe is the front man but he extols to his supporting cast. His counterpart in Oklahoma City is Curtis Fitzpatrick, who will bring an OKC slant to the statewide program.
And Wolfe says the show's producer, Julie Johnston, is a fabulous asset.
"That's the nice thing about having a producer. In a news station, in sports especially, you don't have a producer. If you're out doing something until 4pm and you have a 5pm news cast, sometimes you're going crazy.
"We've got the resources. If I'm out reporting, the show doesn't suffer because we have people here also working on the show," Wolfe said.
However, we better keep a tab on continuity and content. Johnston was orange-clad during our brief conversation. Don't forget TU and OU.
There are copious amounts of highlights in the first two months. The best week was likely PGA Championship week.
"I love the rush to be out there live covering an event of that magnitude. And then having the resources out there to do our three-hour show leading up to our show. That was pretty cool," said Wolfe. His sentiments are felt by many. We all want our Tiger back.
Whether it's mainstream, football-type coverage you are looking for or offbeat, down the dirt road secluded sporting events you seek, SportsNight Oklahoma has you covered. No story is too big or too small.
"All of us are conscious because we come from the news background so we're all conscious of not falling into the traps that it's easy to do during football season. We can be different.
"No one is going to get mad at us for being different. We can still touch on some of the other things but we can touch on so much more than the other guys can," said Wolfe.
You can catch SNO weeknights on Cox Channel 3 at 10pm.
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