The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events in the sporting world and 16 Ithaca College students were there to organize, interview and partake in their future careers in Phoenix.
Making the trip were four members of WICB and 12 members of the sport management major. The sport management majors aided the NFL with behind-the-scenes event management during the big game while members of WICB got to Phoenix on Feb. 5 to experience the Super Bowl week tradition of Radio Row — a five-day-long collection of sports media shows from all across the country coming together under one roof.
Jeremy Menard, general manager of WICB and ICTV, helped organize the trip along with the four students who found their way onto Radio Row, but he said that the idea for the trip started with the students and they worked hard to get to Phoenix.
“They were very motivated and are the ones who put this all together,” Menard said. “I had a conversation with [seniors] Matt Sosler, Nick Lubrano, Dane Richardson and Jayden Becker. Towards the end of the fall semester, they stopped by my office and said, ‘We know a few students from the Park School went to Radio Row back in 2015, do you think we could do it?’”
Menard said he was enthusiastic about the idea and Sosler, Lubrano, Richardson and Becker set out to make their attempt at getting on Radio Row a reality. He added that the event would not have been possible without the help of the Roy H. Park School of Communications administration and alumni in the field.
Menard said that the students aired a total of 10 sportscasts and five one-hour episodes to WICB during the trip, consisting of the shows the Radio Row Review and Big Game Update Sportscasts.
Not only did the students get to record shows from Radio Row, but they got to interact with legends of the sports world and media. During opening night, the students got to talk to numerous NFL stars and bumped into some familiar faces in the sports media landscape.
“Dane actually got front and center for Patrick Mahomes and asked him one of his first questions,” Lubrano said. “It was really cool to just be working in the media and turn around and all of a sudden somebody like Adam Schefter bumps into me.”
What Lubrano, WICB’s sports director, said he took most out of his experience was the interactions he got to have with fellow media members who were now on the same level as him.
“These people were credentialed to the same level as we were,” Lubrano said. “They have the same rights and availability as I did, which is really interesting because you grow up watching these people on TV or following them on Twitter, and you see Ian Rapoport break a trade or news, but for this week he was my peer, we were all working at the same goal.”
The students got to interview many big names during the week, including sports personalities like Kay Adams, Jarrett Payton, Shawne Merriman and one of Lubrano’s childhood idols: Jerry Recco of WFAN.
“I bumped into Jerry Recco, who is one of the producers of Boomer & Gio,” Lubrano said. “He’s on air occasionally, and I said ‘I’m Nick Lubrano, I’m a senior at Ithaca College, I’m the sports director for WICB, is there any chance I can talk to you for five minutes?’ He came over and talked to us for 10 minutes on air and it was really cool to pick his brain about the industry.”
While Lubrano, Richardson, Sosler and Becker became naturals on Radio Row, the college’s sport management students worked closely with GMR Marketing to aid in staffing and guest relations. Junior Isabella Lambert got to work upfront at the NFL House, an exclusive VIP experience for elite Super Bowl guests.
“At the NFL House, we got to work guest and staff check in and check out which included scanning RFID sensors in the credentials that staff and guests showed up in,” Lambert said. “We also got to work at various locations around the house to answer questions that guests had or direct them to different brand activations at the event.”
The sport management students also got the opportunity to work at the Super Bowl itself, directing VIPs to seats and clubs at State Farm Stadium with On Location’s ELITE program, which offers premium perks to high-profile guests.
“We directed elite guests to their VIP locations inside two pre and post-game clubs on the State Farm Stadium campus,” Lambert said.
One thing that both these trips allow for is networking and first-hand experience with the major students are involved in. Lambert said that she got to experience what working at a big event like the Super Bowl was about and got to make connections with professionals and alumni.
“This trip was super important for networking and learning how a mega event such as the Super Bowl is run behind the scenes,” Lambert said. “Getting to have conversations with executives and athletes at the NFL House and network with alumni and our managers really helped me get an understanding for what I may want to do with my future career.”
The sport management students’ experiences during the Super Bowl provided for important moments and candid conversations with those in their future field, Lambert said.
“The most important moment for me was getting to have a conversation with our staff manager at the NFL House about what I might want to do with my career and how my experience with the NFL House has created a new option for me after college,” Lambert said.