The morning Kyle came down
This week, public and private celebrations are being held in honor of KBTX's 60th anniversary. With that, I'm looking back on some of my favorite and memorable moments and people from my 12 years-plus at the Brazos Valley's first television station.
For major events, though there is spontaneity involved in the big moments, anchors and commentators will often pre-script some words to ensure they describe that moment well. I'm under no illusion that my words were memorable or awe-inspiring or anything other than syllables. I just wanted to try and help a moment for just a moment.
"In just 17 seconds, 'The Home of the 12th Man' has changed forever."
I hadn't been back from an assignment to Belgium for long when KBTX went full force into planning for coverage of the implosion of the west side of Kyle Field, part of a $485 million redevelopment. The east side has been reworked. A south end had be built to enclose the field. G. Rollie White Coliseum had been torn down at Kyle's northeast corner.
But on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 8:00 a.m., the most dramatic moment of that multi-year project would take place, and KBTX as Aggie Athletics' official media partner would broadcast the event on the station's airwaves and website, along with 12thMan.com. It was a massive opportunity for us.
Our set would be on top of the parking garage on the other side of Wellborn Road, with all our cameras set up at every location we could get a good angle. Cameras and sets have to be manned by people, and a huge portion of KBTX's staff was involved both in the live broadcast and with pieces prepared in advance. It was a truly remarkable effort by all involved, including the day before and the early morning of as things were set up. As the producer of the show, I couldn't have been prouder of my colleagues for their extraordinary efforts. Behind the scenes, hard-working people hardly get enough credit.
Beyond producing, I also got to co-anchor the show with Sports Director Darryl Bruffett. As a talent, broadcasts like that are privileges to be part of, and this was no different.
We took to the air at 7:00 a.m., and I had planned for all our commercial breaks ahead of the implosion to happen in the first half hour, clearing the second to carry speeches by A&M officials in their entirety leading up to the implosion at straight up 8:00 a.m. Our first segment, however, was not the best, as the dreaded "technical difficulties" threw us off. I vividly remember getting to the first two-minute break working to refocus myself, not think about the previous issues, and move forward. You can't change the past, only affect the future, and the rest of the show, while not perfect, was pretty darn good. I hope it was fitting of the moment, chock full of live and taped content put together by our great team, people who worked together to be part of something really cool.
That of course was topped off by the implosion itself (seen in the video at the right), 17 seconds of controlled chaos as tons of material and history fell. To witness it so close was equal parts awe-inspiring, fear-inducing and pride-filling. Then, the dust cloud came, carried to our set by a perfectly-pointed breeze. It was a fun live TV moment, worth our suits being throughly coated in Kyle. On the air, I said a local cleaning company by name and that they wouldn't know what hit them. It's the company that contracts with the station, so it wasn't a stretch to note them by name. Weeks, maybe months later, the owner of that cleaners saw me at another event and said he'd gotten calls and in-person notes from folks who heard the mention. Needless to say, he was thrilled.
Hours of preparation for minutes of a broadcast culminating in 17 seconds of demolition. It's amazing sometimes how much effort goes in for the ultimate length of time that's aired. When it's all worth it, it's a cool feeling. It was worth it that day for sure.
The full broadcast is below if you'd like to relive it.