Behind The ScenesNCAAF

ESPN Radio braving the elements for comprehensive title game coverage

Part of the ESPN set in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas. (Justine DeLuco/ESPN)
Part of the ESPN set in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas. (Justine DeLuco/ESPN)
The College Football Playoff National Championship on
ESPN Radio Presented by AT&T

Matchup, date, time: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 4 Ohio State, Jan. 12, 7 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Talent: Play-by-play commentator Mike Tirico, analyst Todd Blackledge, sideline reporters Holly Rowe and Joe Schad
Platforms: ESPN Radio, the ESPN Radio App, the SportsCenter app, ESPNRadio.com, SiriusXM, Apple iTunes Radio, Slacker Radio and TuneIn

ESPN Radio’s Justine DeLuco has had a busy few weeks. As the director of events and marketing, DeLuco is responsible for the logistics of producing remote events for ESPN Radio, and this week her focus is on the College Football Playoff National Championship, which will include 48 total hours of onsite coverage from ESPN Radio’s various studio shows including Mike & Mike, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, SVP & Russillo and ESPN Radio’s College GameDay — from Jan. 7-13. Front Row checked in with DeLuco to find out the strategy for covering such a large event.

What have been some of the challenges of organizing for the productions at Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas?
Weather! No matter how much we plan, Mother Nature is really the one that calls the shots. This week, Dallas/Ft. Worth is going to see record lows. With Mike & Mike going live at 5 a.m. local time, we are very concerned about the extreme temperature. Our priority is the safety of our staff/crew, and we have had to alter our broadcast location plans for the week and move to an inside set. We have such great support from our on-site ESPN TV partners, that have made this adjustment for us as smooth as possible.

Did the Super Bowl in 2011 (also in Sundance Square, but cold and snowy) change the way you prepared for this week?
Yes, definitely. While we always include a weather backup plan for our live events, it has led us to consider building full inside set locations and fully enclosing our outdoor stages like we did for last year’s Super Bowl in New York. And of course, we will have a lot of electric blankets and hand warmers available.

How many staff/crew does it take to be able to pull off a large, multi-show production?
For larger events like these, we work alongside and coordinate with other ESPN departments (TV Directing & Operations). It’s great to work with a larger ESPN team because this allows us to have more resources and support throughout the whole planning process and set up on-site. Being a smaller group, we are very appreciative of all the additional teamwork. Staffing for larger events includes approximately 40 people, while a one-day live event broadcast would staff approximately 15 people.

ESPN crew members work on setting up the sets in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas. (Justine DeLuco/ESPN)
ESPN crew members work on setting up in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas.
(Justine DeLuco/ESPN)
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