Squeezed into a corner of a bustling old-time newsroom, armed
with a computer monitor and a speaker phone, Kevin Cosgrove is
3,000 miles and seemingly light years from his former job in
Manhattan as a producer at ABC World News Tonight. Nonetheless,
one truth of the news business is the same. "Live," says
Cosgrove, "builds an audience." Having moved to Portland in 1998
to be editor-in-chief of Oregon Live, which is affiliated with
The Oregonian, Cosgrove has applied that dictum in attracting an
audience among the state's high school football fans. His
webcast, Prep Football Spotlight, available at
oregonlive.com/spotlight/, serves up high school games as they
unfold for four hours every Friday during the season, starting at
6:30 p.m. (PT).
Hosted by Cosgrove, a 52-year-old native of Manchester, England,
and Ed Burton, a 60-year-old former football coach at two Oregon
high schools, the webcast keeps tabs on as many as 120 games. The
on-screen scoreboard is updated every 90 seconds while Cosgrove
and Burton provide analysis in the manner of Chris Fowler and Lee
Corso on ESPN's College Gameday. (Last Friday, after previously
being heard but not seen, they took their act onscreen for the
first time.) They receive reports from more than 90
cell-phone-wielding volunteers who are frequently called upon to
give on-air updates.
Every Friday, Cosgrove and Burton tab the evening's top 20 games.
As the action unfolds, however, they break the pattern when
bigger stories emerge, as on Sept. 21 when Banks High won its
first game in five years by beating The Dalles High 12-6. Surfers
can converse in a chat room or switch to the streaming videocast
of the weekly doubleheader played at Portland's PGE Park. The
next wrinkle? Cosgrove has visions of reporters carrying video
cameras and transmitting to the show through cell phones.