It was back in fall 1968 that I was watching the Jets vs. Raiders game on WRC-TV Washington when NBC chose not to show the thrilling conclusion but instead the beginning of Heidi..
Imagine my shock when 40 years later, as I was watching Tiger Woods prepare to putt for a chance to extend the U.S. Open for another hole, the ending of one of the most riveting golf tournaments, the WRC-TV picture cut to black, teasingly returned for a second, then was gone.
Turns out this time the decision did not come from NBC, but from the Big Guy upstairs. A strong thunderstorm swept through D.C., knocking out the station’s signal for a couple of minutes at the absolute worst time for golf fans since, well, the last time Tiger woods made a clutch putt to extend the U.S. Open, which would have been less than 24 hours earlier.
Turns out the outage only affected the digital over-the-air signal, according to a station executive. So, early adopters to broadcast DTV were the only ones left tearing their hair out as they didn’t see Tiger roll in the putt, then Rocco Mediate follow suit to force the play-off.
WRC-TV received only a couple of calls about the black-out, said the executive, as contrasted with the thousands that lit up the NBC switchboards in 1968.