Monday, September 19, 2011
There was a big boxing match in Las Vegas this past weekend, so HBO, which broadcasted the fight as pay-for-view, invited radio stations nationwide to promote the event from Vegas on Thursday and Friday. My 40-year high school reunion was also this weekend, so Tim swapped jobs with his boss Mike, who covered Tim’s weekend hours in exchange for Tim going to Vegas. Hey! Radio is hard work, but someone’s gotta do it!
Here’s Tim’s account of what happened:
I knew this wouldn’t be a normal trip when I arrived at LAX and saw a very tall young lady in “Daisy Duke” shorts. She was standing on the security line with a man who probably would have endured short jokes, if he were not built like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. I was going to Las Vegas to oversee remote broadcasts to promote HBO’s upcoming Mayweather vs. Ortiz fight. An otherwise uneventful one-hour flight suddenly turned interesting as we circled McCarran airport for 45 minutes, waiting for a thunderstorm to pass, before landing in Vegas. I then took a shuttle to the hotel: the MGM Grand, site of the fight and the broadcasts.
A regulation-sized boxing ring was installed under the dome in the hotel’s lobby. Signing autographs nearby were Leon Spinks, Ernie Shavers, and others. Autographs cost $49 to $99, depending on which one you got to sign. The lobby was crowded for a Wednesday, I was told. Weddings, bachelor/ette parties and fight fans had swelled the usual weekday mob.
My room was nice for what I paid (zero—thank you, HBO!). Since it was the MGM Grand, all artwork in the rooms and hallways was glamour shots of movie stars, past and present. My room featured a photo of Patrick Stewart, Cindy's beloved captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation. He stared at me as if admonishing me to stay away from the mini-bar, if I knew what was good for me!
The remote broadcasts were in a ballroom converted into “Radio Row.” A couple of dozen stations from around the country sent teams to do their shows, mentioning the MGM Grand, HBO pay-per-view and the fight MANY times an hour. My last radio row experience was during the 2000 Democratic Convention in L.A., but this was way better. Catered! Radio people are far down on the show biz chain, so free food is a BIG deal. At home, our “craft service” is a vending machine.
Our shows were broadcasted from 10AM to 2PM, then 4PM to 10PM. Our final guest during the early show, Thursday, was Mike Tyson—a surprise addition who just happened to walk by after we went off the air. We taped a 20-minute interview with him for the next show, about 6 minutes of which was deleted because of profanity. A very interesting man, Tyson spoke of his youth and time in the ring. He got emotional recounting the accidental death of his 4-year-old daughter. I took a picture with my cellphone, but was warned by one of his group (i.e., the blurred figure reaching out to me in the picture above) to refrain from taking more.
Walking around the hotel on Friday, I spotted more muscle types. Turns out the Mr. Olympia competition was also in town. Usually you see men staring at attractive women. But they were also staring at the Mr. Olympia men with as much, if not more, admiration and awe.
Early flight out on Saturday—plenty of time to prep for that night’s high school reunion. But could the Universal Sheraton match the glitz of the MGM Grand? As long as there was no Hercules walking around in a tank top, I'll take it.
Sugar Ray Leonard