EP05 – Directing Live Sports with Greg Hartung
In Episode 5 of The Production Channel, Stephen Bowles and Clem Harrod discuss life in the live sports realm with Orlando Magic Broadcast Director, Greg Hartung. With over 35 years of experience stemming from local television news and sports, Greg chats with the guys about directing live sports, putting together a great game day broadcast and reminisces about his roots in the news room.
Greg began his career at the only TV station in Bowling Green, Kentucky; he gained news experience doing everything from TV directing, audio, graphics and teleprompting. Fast forward 20 years and several promotions through various news markets, Greg decided to make a change from the news room to the control room working sports TV. He expressed that he was “really kind of burnt out on the whole news thing. So, it was just an easy decision to make once the opportunity presented itself for enough work.” In the year 2000, he became a full time freelance technical director and director. His first NBA break was directing for the Denver Nuggets, then a couple of years later, he moved south and started his run with the Orlando Magic. Greg has been a permanent fixture for the last nine years leading the broadcast for The Magic and Fox Sports.
Once the basketball season starts, Greg and his producer receive all their truck, transmission and crew info from the team office, and they hit the ground running to develop the game day. Just like most live productions, the broadcast crew holds a production meeting at the beginning of their work day with all the “team players” such as the announcers, sideline person, graphics operator, tape operator, etc. and discuss the pregame show. Then, they move on to brainstorm what happens when the game is on air. He states, “The most important part of the meeting is deciding what we are going to do at the open of the broadcast. That is where we get most ideas and discussion.” In the truck, Greg talks to the technical director regarding camera shots and video effects. He also has his own responsibilities for several hours designing the “Fox Box” with the presentation of the sponsors, team rosters and statistics. Ultimately, Greg has a meeting with the camera operators to hand out head shot sheets and talk about the overall schedule for interviews and sound bytes. It’s a busy day, but Greg and his team can make it look like clockwork.
The basketball season can be demanding on the basketball players and the broadcast team alike – business travel for the Orlando Magic broadcast team is extremely demanding. When asked about the season schedule, Greg reveals, “It’s fun, it’s exhilarating, and then they’re days that it’s grueling…we’re traveling after the game 41 times a year.” He says that though they take luxury charter flights, the team never takes off before 11:00 PM, often arriving to their destinations after 2:00-3:00 AM and many times through multiple time zones. Greg says his wife is also in the TV production business and recognizes the attention his job requires. “She gets what I do. She understands the demands of being on the road…she understands that’s what I need to do.”
Tune in as Greg Hartung, Stephen and Clem scratch the surface on the life and responsibilities of an NBA broadcast director and what it takes to make a successful game day production for both the crew and fans alike.