Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Signing Off

When TigerBlog heard that New Jersey Network - a state-run public television network that fell victim to budget cuts - was no longer going to exist, his first thought took him back to the Hartford Civic Center.

Back in 1998, Princeton played in the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Hartford. As Tiger fans recall, that was the year that Princeton was the No. 5 seed in the East after going 26-1 during the regular season and climbing into the Top 10 nationally.

As a result, the media crush following Princeton was enormous that year. When it came time for the NCAA tournament, media credential requests were filtered through the schools' athletic communications offices and then forwarded to the host school, in this case UConn.

All through the early part of the week, more and more credential requests came through to TigerBlog, who was the men's basketball contact at the time. He would in turn forward them to UConn, each time saying something like "sorry, there's one more."

Eventually, the UConn people started to get a bit annoyed about the endless stream of requests, though in fairness to TB, there wasn't much he could do about it. After all, it was the media people who were trickling in with their requests, not TB.

At one point, the UConn person overseeing the media relations operation got so, uh, peeved that he called TigerBlog at home. TB answered the phone just as he got out of the shower and received a "dressing down" even though he was undressed.

Shortly before the start of the Princeton-UNLV opening round game, TigerBlog was sitting in his courtside seat in the media section.

Oh, and AUG (Angry UConn Guy) got even more angry at Princeton when Manish Mehta, now with the New York Daily News but then an intern in the OAC, took someone else's seat right at center court.

Anyway, one of the messenger types working there came up to TigerBlog and said that AUG was by the media entrance and needed to see TB at once.

When TigerBlog got there, he saw the bald head of New Jersey Network's Jerry Henry and his trusty sidekick cameraman standing by the media check-in, asking for credentials as if this game happened to be Princeton-Monmouth in late November, completely unaware of the fact that he might have had to request such credentials in advance.

AUG lit into TigerBlog again before letting Henry into the building, where he and his cameraman again violated the rules by trying to film highlights of the game while it was in progress, a major NCAA no-no.

NJN was on channel 23 and 52 as TigerBlog grew up, and there was a stretch in elementary school when each day, TB's class would watch a 15-minute show on NJN that featured kids in ordinary situations with a moral at the end. TB remembers being home sick one day in fourth grade or so and tuning into the moral show anyway.

NJN televised a lot of Princeton events in the '80s and '90s. The 52-51 Penn win over Princeton in the final game of the 1993 season - that was the first year of the Jerome Allen-Matt Maloney Penn teams - was on NJN. How does TB know? He was covering a different game that night, about six miles away, and watched the end of the Princeton-Penn game on a TV in the Rider athletic department before the other game started.

NJN had a steady stream of on-air people, though Henry was the one TigerBlog dealt with the most through the years. A former Marine, Henry was always laughing, always happy, always looking forward to talking to whatever Princeton athlete he was there to meet.

TigerBlog lost touch with Henry through the years, as NJN scaled back its coverage of Princeton.

Today, NJN no longer exists, like much of the media that TigerBlog dealt with when he first came to Princeton.

With the end of NJN, another link to the 1990s - a glorious time to be in athletic communications at Princeton - vanishes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whenever I see Mike Mayock on NBC or the NFL Network, I think of him standing on the sidelines at Palmer Stadium, doing in-game reporting on NJN in the 1980s. He looks exactly the same today.

The days are long but the years are short.