Opinion: Time out on the field

Sep 24, 2022, 11:00 AM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 1:57 pm
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This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — One of my first jobs when I started at KSL in 1990 was running the board for BYU games, football and basketball. In fact, my morning partner now, Tim Hughes, taught me how to run the board. The board at that time looked like something from an airplane cockpit to me. There were forty “pots,” and each one could go to fifty different places, plus an A and B channel for each.

Just running that board for a regular show gave me the flop sweats, but BYU was a master class in multi-tasking. We had to play different commercials (on 8 track tapes we called “carts”) on KSL’s air than we played on the BYU network, which included ten or twenty other stations. So, I had to be dexterous enough to hit buttons simultaneously, play different station IDs or leave some of the network silent for individual stations to insert their own IDs.

The biggest thrill of this job, in addition to having a front row studio seat to fantastic BYU athletes, was giving cues to then play-by-play announcer Paul James. I would push a button and talk in Paul’s ear, telling him how much time was left before the end of the commercial break, and then letting him know he was back on live with a soft, “Go.”

I was constantly at the ready for Paul to say, “We’ve got a time out on the field, and we’ll take a time out here on the Cougar Sports Network.” That was my cue to turn Paul off and hit the commercials. As soon as I turned Paul off, I put his channel in cue so I could continue to hear him talk in case he needed me.

Usually, time outs are predictable. They fall at the first play stoppage after certain set times in the game, but once in a while something will happen that puts a timeout at an unusual place. I remember one game in particular where we had just come back from a time out, and I didn’t anticipate another one for at least ten minutes. I thought, “I can get down the hall to the bathroom. I’ve got ten minutes.”

You have to remember, when you add the pre-game show, the kickoff show, the game itself, the postgame show and the coach’s call-in show, BYU broadcasts would last six hours or more. (Maybe I should have cut back on the Diet Coke.)

But I digress. Back to the game where I am in the bathroom in which, thanks to station wide speakers, I can continue to listen to the game. I had just sat down (sorry for the TMI) when I hear, “We’ve got an injury on the field. Why don’t we take a quick time out while they check out this player, and we’ll be back in a minute on the Cougar Sports Network.”

What?! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got out of there and zipped as I ran down the hall, back into the booth, going so fast that, as I rounded the corner, I knocked a 20-high stack of carts off the counter. As they came crashing down making a terrific sound that reminded me of a light car crash, I reached for Paul’s off button. I almost . . . almost got to it before he started talking.

Of course, Paul assumed his mic was muted from the second he said, “Time out on the field,” because it almost always was. But on this occasion, a few of his comments to the color commentator went out over the air. It’s been more than thirty years, so I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember very clearly thinking I might get fired.

I never told Paul his mic had been open. I probably should have because, undoubtedly, someone told him later. I think I got away with that moment of incompetence because, well, Paul liked me. (The feeling was wholly mutual.) Years later when I married my first husband, Scott Seeger, Scott told me that Paul James had warned him, “You know you’re marrying KSL’s sweetheart, right? You better treat her right.”

At least, I think that’s what he said.

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Opinion: Time out on the field