With all due respect to our friends in the corner offices of the Indianapolis stations, it’s hard not to root for the Saints in next week’s Super Bowl after hearing just how crazy New Orleans has gone for its gridiron guys.
Mind you, Indianapolis is pretty football-mad too; there are Blue Fridays, where most everyone with a pulse in DMA #25 wears blue to show their support for Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, etc. (By the way, are all of Manning’s fave receivers named for cities in Texas?)
WTHR boss Jim Tellus’s previous job was in Seattle; he was there when the Seahawks made the Super Bowl in 2006. He says comparing football excitement between Seattle and Indy is, well, no comparison. “It’s a religion here,” he says. “I’ve never seen such community involvement.”
The Indy stations are sending anywhere from 12 to about 20 bodies apiece to Miami, and flavoring their newscasts with Super Bowl color from here on in. “You can’t not cover it,” says WRTV GM Don Lundy. “It’s huge.”
It may be even huger in NOLA, seeing as the market has not had a team in a major-sports championship game in, oh, I don’t know, decades. “It’s a huge historic event for a town that loves history,” says WGNO-WNOL GM Phil Waterman.
Saints star Reggie Bush on WWL New Orleans
Waterman says you cannot book a room in the French Quarter for next weekend. Of course, the big game is in Florida; people–lots of them–just want to be in the Big Easy to watch the thing on TV.
WDSU GM Joel Vilmenay says he had to resort to earplugs for the Saints-Vikes game at the Superdome last week. “It’s the first time I ever felt I needed them,” he says. “The decibel level was off the charts.”
The NOLA stations are going all out for the game; WDSU, for one, has daily “Saints on 6″ specials airing at both 6:30 and 10:35 p–pushing The Tonight Show back a half hour to air the latter. (Uh, hasn’t Conan had a rough enough month?)
The game’s got a number of fun subplots, such as the dual-market Mannings–NOLA native Peyton stars for the Colts, and of course is the son of Archie Manning, who was the face of the (formerly) hapless Saints for years.
And no matter who wins, a Tribune station will be celebrating. Trib’s got duopolies in both NOLA and Indy, and NOLA boss Waterman has a wager with Indy GM Jerry Martin: Waterman has put up some of New Orleans’ finest King cakes, while Martin says he’ll send his colleague some St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail “if the unthinkable happens.”
I’ve got way more on the NOLA and Indianapolis stations and their Super Bowl gameplans in our Monday issue.