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POTW: Radio & TV at the Utica Boilermaker

UTICA-ROME — This past weekend marked the 31st running of “America’s Biggest 15K Road Race,” the Utica Boilermaker.  Every year, the race gets bigger and bigger… and for many years, local media outlets have made it a point to have a presence at the race.  Several pictures this week instead of the usual one.

Before scrolling down, it needs to be recognized that the only way to see every station along the course… is to actually run the race.  For your editor, bicycling 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) is no problem, but running that distance is a different story.

So, this collection of Pictures of the Week is simply all the radio and TV stations we spotted from our observation point along the course.  Your editor chose a spot just beyond the 9-mile mark because he doesn’t like getting up early on Sundays, and this location affords one the chance to arrive 1/2 hour after the race begins, there’s ample parking close to the course, and still a few minutes to spare before the lead runners pass by.

Long story short, we weren’t picking and choosing certain stations — these were just the ones near our vantage point.  If we missed your station and you took any pictures of your own, send ’em in and we’ll be glad to add them.

Photo 1: The WIBX news van speeds down the course, just beyond the police escort.  It’s the only branded news vehicle to be seen in front of the lead runners.  Two other pool media trucks carrying reporters and photographers for other outlets are not marked.

Photo 2: Just about half a block east of our location, The Lite 98.7 (WLZW) van is parked at the end of York Street, with large speakers blaring the station’s “Boilermaker Music Marathon” for passing runners along with the nearby crowd.

Photo 3: And just as far to the west along the course, runners pass by the Big Frog 104 (WFRG) van and what appears to be an equipment trailer.  With so many spectactors crowded along the street, we didn’t get a chance to get a closer look.

Photo 4: The annual sightings of the “WOUR Chain Gang” are over, but former longtime WOUR personality Jerry Kraus was easy to spot, with a shirt giving people a sneak peek at his plans to run for Utica Common Council (an announcement he made the following Wednesday).  Incidentally, this year marked Kraus’ 15th consecutive Boilermaker run.

Photo 5: After most of the runners had passed by, we were on our way out when we spotted a crew from Utica NBC affiliate NewsChannel 2 (WKTV) wrapping up after a live hit.  But they weren’t alone…

Photo 6: That WKTV live hit was made possible by a microwave truck from Syracuse ABC affiliate NewsChannel 9 (WSYR).  One crew member told us that WKTV rented the services of the Syracuse truck for their race coverage.  Although WKTV has enjoyed a monopoly on local broadcast TV news in the Utica market for the past several years, there’s still plenty of competition on Boilermaker Sunday.  ABC affiliate WUTR, which shuttered its newsroom in 2003, always rounds up enough talent, crew members and equipment to continue doing their own live Boilermaker broadcast every year.  And Time Warner Cable Sports is now in the media race with its own live coverage, anchored by former WUTR sports director Chris Watson.

2 Comments to POTW: Radio & TV at the Utica Boilermaker

  1. Hello…It is very difficult sometimes, to comment on the media’s coverage of certain events, such as the Boilermaker. You hate to be critical because you want to assume that all media outlets have done their homework to present a clear picture of the event they are broadcasting. However, in many instances, some personalities do their homework and some do not. Some technical people do their homework, while others skimp.

    On two different $4000 to $5000 flat screen televisions, along with an expensive stereo, I watched all three television outlets and listened to WIBX radio present Boilermaker coverage. In my opinion, I thought the following. And I will make it brief.

    1…Time Warner Sports hands down, was the solid winner. Their picture was the sharpest, they had a camera in front of the runners along the course, their graphics, maps and on screen information was very easy to understand and it provided plenty of knowledge. Their anchor team did a splendid job and knew what they were talking about.

    2…WKTV…In my opinion, 2nd best. Picture quality very good, but not as sharp as Time Warner. Graphics and information pretty good, but not as detailed as Time Warner. WKTV had a two person anchor team which was a good idea, however, Jason their sports director doesn’t seem like he does his complete homework to sound knowledgeable. His co-anchor was fine. Ryan Sandler was a joke, and we will leave it at that. Other WKTV people except for Tom Coyne just ask stupid questions and sound foolish. Tom Coyne should be the anchor. Tom knows what to ask and is very knowledgeable. He is a pro.

    3…WUTR…Not much to say here except terrible picture quality of the three and forget the reporters. They should not even bother doing the race.

    4…WIBX…Just top notch. They had their reporters in front of the running pack. Katheryn Switzer is terrific. The entire overall sound and reporting, along with a wealth of information was excellent.

  2. Time Warner Sports certainly has a few fundamental advantages.

    1…They’re from Syracuse, from an operation that does 24/7 sports. More real sports talent (as opposed to 2 sports people complimented by an army of news and weather people), more toys.
    2…Budget subsidized by cable bills. See above.
    3…The talent does a lot more play-by-play coverage than anyone else covering the race. Between high school, college and minor league sports year round, they can do much better at live, unscripted coverage than the WKTV sports anchors who are accustomed to reading 4 minutes of highlights and reaction off a teleprompter every night.

    I agree with your comments on WKTV. Flipping around, anytime I saw Jason on camera, his eyes were on the notes and scripts rather than the camera. The guy’s been there for more than 10 years and he can’t speak off-the-cuff about the race? Could you imagine if the President was his co-anchor, sitting at the finish line in West Utica with no teleprompters? There’s a sitcom waiting to happen.

    WUTR… well, yeah. The Boilermaker, the Heart Walk and the Relay for Life are the ONLY things they do live anymore. You can’t expect much from a station that only goes live three times a year, when the competition is producing live programming several times every day. Look at how many years WUTR continued to use the same old “WIXT clone” lower-thirds, long after that tie had been severed. I think last year was the first time they had original CGs on the broadcast.

    Joe Kelly may be a very well-respected personality in the community, but he’s not a sports broadcaster. Every time I flipped over to WUTR, he was just babbling on about nothing. I never even saw who else was on the UTR broadcast team, because I gave up on watching them. But if there were two other people like you said, I’d be willing to bet at least one of them was a former WKTV or WUTR personality.

    Oh yeah, it’s a radio site… better talk about WIBX so I don’t get busted for being too far off topic. They did a pretty good job. I’m sure Regent is glad they picked up Gene Conte when the Sports Stars “Network” imploded. And even though Regent shares are cheaper than a pack of gum, they still find the money to bring in their 2 running experts, which always pays off. Of course, we have to be fair… it’s easy to bash TV because there’s so much room for problems in TV. In radio, going live is a matter of picking up a phone and dialing into the studio. You don’t have to worry about homemade transmitters on motorcycles or helicopters crapping out while their pictures are live on-air, or some airhead waving a big “Auntie Anne’s Pretzels” banner behind the GM while he’s doing a live hit from the middle of the course.

    Despite any one outlet’s advantage or shortcomings, it’s still very nice to see so many outlets providing live coverage of the race. In a time when broadcasting is suffering big time, it’s amazing both Utica TV stations were still there, doing as much as they did, and to boot, they were joined by a new TV competitor. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be that way forever.

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