“Can’t you just shoot the touchdowns?”

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In the days before videotape, television news and sports reporters and photographers relied on 16mm, no sound, black and white film cameras to bring the action to viewers at home. Once a reel of film was exposed, it was finished, couldn’t be reused.
Managing use of film wasn’t too difficult for most stories, but when it came to covering live sporting events it became a challenge.
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That was the dilemma facing WPTV Channel 5’s flamboyant sports director, Buck Kinnaird, especially when the Miami Dolphins started playing in the Orange Bowl in 1966. The film used by the West Palm Beach station’s news and sports departments was charged to the engineering department, managed at the time by a cost conscious chief engineer named Lew Evenden.
They budgeted 800 feet of film for a football game, but when they started covering Dolphins games from the press box, Kinnaird said they were using 1,000 feet or more. One Monday Evenden called Kinnaird into his office and told him they were using too much film. “Well,” Kinnaird said, “you know, it’s football. And Lew said—this is the honest-to-God truth—he said, ‘Well, can’t you just shoot the touchdowns?’”
With a straight face Kinnaird replied, “Lew, I’ll tell you what. I’m going down to the Dolphins’ practice Tuesday and I’ll ask Don Shula to let us know when the team is about to score a touchdown. And Lew said, ‘I’d really appreciate that. We’re spending too much money on film.’”

This is one of many great stories Buck told me a few years before his death in 2008. The stories are in chapter 20 of Towers in the Sand: The History of Florida Broadcasting, along with others from Florida sports figures including Bernie Rosen (WTVJ Miami), Jim Gallagher (WPEC West Palm Beach), and Dick Stratton (WJXT Jacksonville).
Click here to buy your copy of the paperback or e-book.

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