Gold Medal Experience

Six Bradley students worked at NBC Sports Group's headquarters during the Rio de Janiero Olympics. (Photo by Duane Zehr)

Matt Hawkins
September 6, 2016

As thousands of athletes battled for Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro, several hundred college students worked behind-the-scenes to ensure smooth event broadcasts over NBC’s TV and internet feeds. These students, which included six from Bradley, felt the thrill of competition from NBC Sports Group’s Stamford, Connecticut, headquarters.

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity placed students at the center of NBC’s Olympics production, where their work made possible the viewing experience for millions of viewers worldwide.

“It was amazing to see where everything happened for national audiences and to be part of a passionate team,” said journalism major Melody Mercado ‘17, of Belvidere, Illinois. “I was proud to see projects I worked on or know who handled different tasks. It’s an incredible feeling to know my work was out there for the world to see.”

Mercado was joined by sports communication major Dylan Corbet ‘18, of Chesterfield, Missouri; public relations major Haley Krus ‘17, of Metamora, Illinois; sports communication and marketing double major Jessica Sauzameda ‘17, of Cicero, Illinois; sports communication and Spanish double major Nathaly Trujillo ‘18, of Dalton, Georgia; and sports communication major Brandon Wallace ‘17, of Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Students, who served as full-time temporary NBC employees, worked 12-hour days monitoring live feeds from Rio. Some students tracked highlights to be used for news recaps while others watched events and determined when to insert sponsorship messages.

Bradley students have assisted NBC’s Olympics production staff since 2012, first through an internship partnership and now through a competitive temporary employment process.

Though many students brought academic understandings of live production, the size and pace of Olympics production challenged their abilities.

“I learned a lot about the production process,” Corbet said. “It takes a ton of work for something that big, but it looks flawless to the viewer. I’m grateful I could be part of the many people and hours it took to make the broadcast happen.”

Stamford-based staff had the unique perspective of being the first eyes outside venues to see events happen live, thanks to broadcast tape delay. The vantage point gave students greater appreciation for athletes whose accomplishments may not have been lead headlines for U.S. media.

NBC also offered students job shadowing opportunities to explore other broadcast career avenues. Bradley students took advantage of the shadowing program to learn about corporate public relations, digital journalism and other fields.

By delving into the full production process, students left Stamford with greater appreciation for many career options within the corporate media umbrella.

“The Olympics were out of my comfort zone with my PR background, but I realized my experience was valuable because PR requires me to see the bigger picture,” Krus said. “Now, I better understand my career choice and options because I took a risk to learn something new.”