Pam Oliver, who anchors for Fox Sports South in Atlanta and writes for the Southern Regional Sports Report, visited FAMU March 29 and 30. She spoke to students sharing aspects of her journey from FAMU toward becoming a successful journalist.
Oliver agreed to interview with N’Gia Timmons of The Famuan.
NT: What was your first big assignment?
PO: The gubernatorial campaign of Lawton Chiles… I was working in Tampa at the time…I was so proud I was given that plum assignment…I traveled on the plane with him from place to place and was responsible for turning stories every day…it was something that was really an eye opener.
NT: What was your first big assignment with Fox Sports?
PO: The 1999 Super Bowl between Denver and Atlanta…It was my first Super Bowl with Fox…I had the pleasure of having my whole story that I had set up and all ready to go blown out of the water because of Eugene Robinson’s situation with the undercover officer and he was arrested for prostitution solicitation…I was going oh this is great…then I said you know what …this is what I do…expect the unexpected in television.
NT: Talk about this past season’s Super Bowl experience.
PO: It was a blur…I learned late in the week before the Super Bowl that I would be covering the AFC team…it was a team I hadn’t seen all year…after the NFC championship game between the Rams and Eagles we boarded the charter flight and flew down to New Orleans that Sunday night…on Monday I spent all day in a motel with 500 pages of research on the Patriots…I knew general stuff but I like to leave no stone unturned…my interviews were set for Tuesday morning…I was so worried because I hadn’t talk to a single player…I knew one player on the team and that was Bryan Cox…all the players were wonderful… …it was a good time…my story turned out well…
NT: With Pat Summerall and John Madden (Fox’s number one announcing team) no longer at Fox how will that affect your coverage assignments this season?
PO: It’s being worked on as we speak…it looks like it’s going to be Joe Buck, Chris Collingsworth, and Troy Aikman moving up to the number one group…there’s a move to get me on that crew… my producer and director and that entire crew from the “B” team is moving up to the “A” team…I’m expecting to move up with them but there are some politics involved…the worst I would do is the number two crew.
NT: Compare coverage of college football to the NFL?
PO: The college game is non-stop adrenalin flow…it’s so loud…it’s so fun …people don’t SHUT UP!…it’s a whole different dynamic …from the roar of the crowd…to the kids…the NFL seems like a strategic battle…unless you’re covering the Rams where its downfield all day you’re sitting there as these offenses squeak along…there are times when I get bored…I’ve covered plenty of those “duds” but I’ve also covered some great games as well.
NT: In colloquium this past Thursday you said you fell into a comfort zone when you were working in Buffalo. Can you elaborate on that?
PO: It turned out to be a great place to live… …I had some great friends…it was hard to leave…I liked that newsroom…there was some opportunities to really grow in that job…I really wasn’t interested in uprooting again…I was getting to a point where I was like gosh …every two years I’m packing my stuff…Tampa was a top ten market at that time…I needed to make that move…that’s where I made my jump from news to sports…there’s nothing wrong with getting in a market and wanting to stay there…sometimes bigger things are calling you and I listened to that bigger thing…it doesn’t always mean better… I was like let’s go ahead and do this…I didn’t regret it…I’ve had few career regrets.
NT: What did you learn at FAMU that prepared you for going into the journalism field?
PO: The classes gave a foundation but going down and covering the football team, calling in scores, and working with newspapers…that hands on stuff really made me know what I wanted to do.
NT: Describe your experience as a student athlete at FAMU?
PO: It was hard…especially in the j-school…it was like three jobs between track, academics and the extra things you’re doing to try to get ahead of the game and learn what it is you’re supposed to be doing…it wasn’t easy…I felt I wouldn’t want it any other way…I felt that running track was important…having to juggle all of those things really prepares you for life…half of it is just being organized…you may not have that extra hour to hang out but you also need some chill time.
NT: What are you doing at Fox Sports South in Atlanta during the NFL off season?
PO: I anchor and write shows for the Southern Regional Sports Report and dig for stories…it’s on three nights a week …I felt like I need to do more anchoring because I been reporting and out in the field so much…I wanted to get up on that set and handle myself…it’s southern sports…we have eight states we focus on…we do a lot of ACC, SEC, football, college basketball, Final Four…we do all sports across the table…right now we’re gearing up for the Braves’ opening day.