In October, Cox Sports Television (CST) will celebrate its 16th anniversary. Owned and operated by Cox Communications Louisiana, CST showcases Louisiana State University (LSU) and Tulane University football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, and coming soon, women’s soccer. They also broadcast the high school football championships, and professional baseball – the Blue Wahoos in Pensacola and the Baby Cakes in New Orleans.
It’s an hour before the start of a Baby Cakes game, and the CST contracted crew has the equipment set and ready to go. The Tacoma Rainiers are in town for a four-game stand. Now it’s time to hurry up and wait for the first pitch.
What’s it like behind the scenes of a remote broadcast operation?
Actually, it’s pretty laid back. The crew takes their lead from Producer/Director Walter Volpati. Coordinating a remote shoot comes second nature to Walter. That’s because he’s had lots of practice.
Walter started his career at Cox 29 years ago as an intern during his senior year at Loyola University in New Orleans. He did so well, he was offered a job three months later before he even graduated.
“I was an intern on a fishing show Cox produced called “Outdoor Louisiana Style,” Walter explains. “They shot half of the show outside and the other half in the studio with two hosts answering people’s fishing questions. The questions ran the gamut from best recipes (the host was a fantastic chef) to the best lures to the best fishing spots.”
What’s kept Walter in the same job all these years?
“Well, I love what I do, and the job has changed enough over the years to keep me interested,” he says. “We used to do more production work and commercials and local shows. Now, we’re doing mostly live sports. It’s rare that CST does a non-sporting event nowadays.”
Back to the game
The Baby Cakes are holding a special Jersey Retirement Ceremony for Wiley Pontiff, Jr., an LSU baseball player who died suddenly of cardiac arrest in 2002 when he was only 21 years old. The Baby Cakes want to show their respect to the family and retire his jersey number – 31 – for all future players.
Walter and the crew are ready to record the ceremony. “Ready open, take open,” Walter directs. “Ready 2, take 2. I need to see some purple and gold, Sam. Great! Ready 5, take 5…” And seven minutes later, the ceremony is recorded and ready for playback at the top of the hour.
The game goes smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. It’s a testament to their director who enjoys his job and isn’t afraid to let others know. “I love being outside, working with the truck and crew, and being out and about on location. Cox has been a great place to work and has allowed me to enjoy the career I planned back when I was in high school.”
He smiles and then shrugs. “I also enjoy sports, so it’s a win-win for me!”