- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2000

While 99 percent of NBC Sports' personnel in Sydney, Australia, have videotaped their Olympics coverage for the day and are either asleep or partying, Hannah Storm is working the graveyard shift live at the International Broadcast Center as the host of the weekday morning and daytime weekend shows.

Because Sydney is 15 hours ahead of New York City, Miss Storm's daily routine consists of 12-hour shifts in the studio, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. local time, hitting the air at 3 a.m. for a regular broadcast and sticking around in case of breaking news. It's a fairly comfortable working arrangement, considering that she is 5 and 1/2 months pregnant.

Meanwhile, NBC's swimming and diving lead announcer, Dan Hicks, is slumbering in Miss Storm's hotel room after a 7 a.m.-to-10 p.m. shift. He also happens to be her husband of five years and the father of their two daughters, ages 2 and 3.

"We're going to be ships passing in the night," says Miss Storm, 38, "sometimes completely missing each other."

Their children in the loving hands of relatives and friends, they intend to make the most of what little time they have together Down Under.

"We'll hang out together in Sydney for a couple of days before the Games begin, hook up occasionally at the swimming and diving venues, then spend another day after the closing ceremony before Dan is off to Scotland to cover a golf tournament."

If everything goes according to plan, the soon-to-be veteran of three Olympics coverages will be at some of the sporting events in person.

"I had zero time in Barcelona [in 1992] and Atlanta [in 1996], partly because of some late-night work, partly because the venues were so far apart geographically. In Sydney, everything is so centralized that I should be able to reach any venue I want."

The calm Miss Storm is part of a massive effort by NBC Sports to broadcast 162.5 hours of the XXVII Summer Olympiad, with the diminutive Bob Costas in the big job as the peacock network's prime-time and late-night host. A vast majority of the Olympics coverage will be live on tape as the competition unfolds, as it will for a total of 279 additional hours planned for NBC's two cable networks, CNBC and MSNBC.

A total of 441.5 hours of Sydney coverage (as opposed to 171.5 hours in Atlanta four years ago) also includes MSNBC's coverage of the U.S. men's opening soccer match against the Czech Republic on Wednesday and the U.S. women's soccer team vs. archrival Norway on Thursday both before the official opening ceremony.

NBC's team of veteran sports reporters and analysts include Ahmad Rashad, Harry Smith, Dr. Bob Arnot, Sarah James, Bill Walton, Mike Breen, Teddy Atlas, Donna deVarona, Marty Liquori, Frank Shorter and Rowdy Gaines. On MSNBC, Andres Cantor ("Gooooooooal") hooks up for his first English-language soccer telecasts, while Marv Albert is the mouthpiece for CNBC's boxing coverage.

Logistically, NBC Sports' arrangements to cover every venue in Sydney include five helicopters, 360 camera positions, 400 videotape recorders, 230 rental cars, 300 drivers, 1,700 hotel rooms, 1,600 airline tickets, 1,812 full- and part-time staff members, 25,000 blank video tapes, 30,000 pieces of TV equipment, 42,000 video tapes in the on-site footage library, 1,250 athlete bios on NBCOlympics.com, 16,000 pounds of Starbucks coffee and 260,000 prepared meals.

The numbers don't really matter to Miss Storm, a genuine sports enthusiast and historian who joined the NBC Sports broadcasting team in May 1992, after a three-year jock stint on CNN.

"The Sydney Olympics will be totally different from the culture and heritage surrounding Barcelona or the immediacy of the competition in Atlanta," she explains. "Americans have a fascination with Australia in general and Sydney now a beautiful, stunning international city in particular. I also expect all kinds of excitement in aquatic sports, where the swimming events should be shootouts between the Aussies and the American team."

Neither the time differential (making scores available before local broadcast time), nor the recent International Olympic Committee (IOC) bribery scandal involving the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, are expected to put a damper on the current games, Miss Storm says.

"I don't think viewers care," she says. "[NBC Sports has] done extensive research that shows [viewers] don't connect the IOC scandal with anything happening on the playing field."

To Miss Storm, the future looks good for the Olympics movement because of the large number of IOC reforms implemented during the past few years.

"Extensive changes are all for the better. I'm particularly enthused about involving more athletes, former Olympians, in policy-making. If they can stay on top of drug testing with advanced technology, they will preserve the integrity of the Games. Any form of cheating destroys the Olympic ideal."

Born in Chicago, Miss Storm is the daughter of hard-driving Texas Realtor and career sports executive Mike Storen, currently based in Atlanta as the commissioner of the Indoor Professional Football League. She ran high-school track and excelled at high jumping in Memphis, Tenn., and Atlanta but dropped competitive athletics when she enrolled at Notre Dame (like her father, grandfather and a couple of uncles) with a double major in communications and international government.

After graduation with a bachelor's degree in 1983, she found hard resistance to women in TV sportscasting it simply wasn't done. Miss Storm finally landed a six-month radio gig as a disc jockey at KNCN-FM in Corpus Christi, Texas where the program director changed her last name to Storm. Her subsequent move to Houston led to part-time DJ work and full-time sportscasting on radio, then Houston Rockets halftime shows and Houston Astros pre-game shows for KTXH-TV.

Driven, Miss Storm spent the 1988-89 season as a weekend anchor and sports reporter for WPCQ-TV in Charlotte, N.C., then hit the national networks.

"Why sports? I grew up around it, wanted to be part of the performing arts without being an actress," says the New York state-based sportscaster. "The bottom line is that I'm comfortable on television and doing sports is fun. And it's how I met my husband we were hired the same week by CNN and Atlanta.

"It's the best job in the world for a working mother, too. Because I'm around all week and work mostly on weekends, most people in my little town don't know that I work."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide