Chica-Go Big Red

The KRNU Sports Staff traveled to Evanston, Illinois for Nebraska's game against Northwestern the weekend of fall break.

By: Austin Oerman

 

The KRNU Sports Staff in its booth prior to kickoff.

 

Once per football season, the KRNU Sports Staff attends a Nebraska Football road game. The staff treats the game like a home game, broadcasting its pregame show, a presentation of the game, and halftime and postgame shows.

The first step in the process is picking a game. The staff deliberated on either the Michigan game and the Northwestern game for a couple weeks. Ultimately, the crew picked a trip to the Chicago area over a trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

There were a number of factors that led the staff to choose Northwestern. First, it was much more convenient given the timeline the college students were on. The game fell on the weekend of fall break, giving them enough time to get back to Lincoln, should they have needed it. Chicago is only an eight-hour drive from Lincoln, as opposed to a 10-and-a-half hour drive to Ann Arbor

It was also most convenient for the staff’s Jake Bartecki. Bartecki grew up in Evanston, a four-minute walk from Northwestern’s campus. He used the trip as both work experience and a vacation.

His family’s proximity to the campus saved the Sports Staff money. Typically, the staff would find a hotel for the night or two they stayed. Instead, the Barteckis hosted the staff Friday night and Saturday morning.

Another reason the staff decided to go to Northwestern was because it is a matchup that has lent itself to good games since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Only two of the previous seven games were decided by 10 or more points, and Saturday’s game ended up going to overtime (for the second straight year). Additionally, the road team had won every time since 2013, when Nebraska won in Lincoln. It turned out that the home team won for the first time in 5 years to even the ledger at four wins and four losses for either side since 2011.

Getting to the game Saturday morning was no problem, but issues arose once the staff reached its destination. While setting up, Sports Staffer Will Bauer discovered that the outlet they were attempting to plug the Tieline into wasn’t working. After the cycle of plugging and unplugging the power cord, Bauer reset the outlet.

It worked. Crisis averted.

The next issue for the staff to work through was the lack of space. In their booth back in Lincoln, the staffers have about eight feet of space to split among four people. Instead of having eight feet for a quartet, the staffers had about 5 feet for three people.

The crew was forced to share a booth with HuskerVision, who needed to set up a camera in the booth to record the game to get highlights. The booth ended up being split about perfectly in half after accounting for camera and spotter angles.

To solve that problem, the KRNU staff reduced the size of its pregame show. Typically, four people are on the show at a time. Given the size of the booth, fitting three people in with their notes was a squeeze, but the staff, including Bauer, who hosted the pregame show, made it work.

 The staff even had a special guest to help break down Northwestern. Ari Levin, a broadcasting student at Northwestern and colleague of Penrice, was the guest for the opponent preview section of the show. Usually, the staff will get the opponent’s play-by-play voice to feature in a piece, but the Northwestern student broadcast booth was directly adjacent to KRNU’s space, so the staff jumped at the opportunity to have a live guest.

Levin was not the only Northwestern student warming up with KRNU around. The Northwestern band practiced as KRNU was on the field, morphing from a mess of people into a fine-tuned unit by the time their pregame show began.

 

The Northwestern Band warms up before the football players get to the field.

Ultimately, the staff was happy the broadcast went mostly smoothly after they almost didn’t make it on air. There were a few technical issues with first-time engineers, but all were pleased they could at least broadcast the game.

After the game concluded, Penrice and Bauer departed from Evanston and returned to Lincoln. They returned to Lincoln shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Penrice said the drive was simultaneously taxing and worth it for the relaxing that followed.

Bartecki, on the other hand, remained in Evanston and spent his fall break in his hometown with his family.

When they all returned, the staff gathered in Andersen Hall for a debriefing and weekend preview meeting the next Thursday before another game the following Saturday.

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