SMC degree: Bachelor of arts, Radio Television and Film, 1984
Current city: Sochi, Russia (though normally Chalfont, Pa.)
A piece of advice: “The key thing is to become really skilled and know what you’re doing on every available platform.”
Four billion people around the world will watch Olympic athletes go for the gold in Sochi from the comfort of their living rooms. Few will likely take pause to wonder how it’s all possible.
Long before the athletes began arriving in Sochi, an army of approximately 2,300 NBC broadcasters descended onto the Olympic Village who will work to create a seamless viewing experience so the fans can focus on the competition at hand. Among them is Mark Pokedoff, RTF ’84, a freelancer who will be working his fifth Olympic Games in a row.
He’ll be working as an EVS operator for the opening and closing ceremonies and the hockey broadcasts for the NBC Universal family of networks – NBC, NBCSN, USA, MSNBC, CNBC and nbcolympics.com. An integral part of the broadcast team, an EVS operator runs a machine that receives video from the various cameras covering the event and then quickly puts together replays, highlights and montages to help tell the story of the game.
From his station in the broadcast truck, he’ll be covering hockey games, as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which he says, “is a very different animal.” During the extravagant celebrations that bookend the Olympics, Pokedoff will be managing tape feeds back to the NBC studios at the Sochi Broadcast Center, ensuring the editors have the footage they need to create the broadcast.
Pokedoff has worked nearly every major sporting event from the Super Bowl to Wimbledon, but the Olympics is on a level of its own. “There’s nothing like the Olympics,” he says. “It’s a global event that lasts for 16 days. There’s nothing that compares to it.”
Life as a freelancer
As an EVS operator, he has worked for ESPN, Comcast Sports Group, CBS, NBC and The Golf Channel. Pokedoff says there are a few keys to building a steady stream of freelance work.
“Being a Temple grad helped open many doors (or at least to keep them open). Be prepared to start working on small shows in order to build up your experience and your reputation,” he says. “Don’t expect your first assignment to be the Super Bowl, but keep the big shows as your goal. It may take years like it did for me, but I’ve been fortunate to work on some of the biggest shows in the world.”
He’s worked countless Flyers game broadcasts, so the pace of a hockey game is second nature. “However, on some days, there may be two or three games,” he says. “That could potentially make for a long day. Still, because of the fast pace of the game, those days fly by.”
Pokedoff has confidence in his and his colleagues’ ability to produce high-quality coverage of the Olympics this year.
“With decades of experience in carrying the games, the network has left nothing to chance to ensure complete coverage of the games,” he says. “They will make every event available live on the internet or on TV. It’s a huge undertaking with tons and tons of content. It is an exciting event to be a part of.”
Pokedoff recently spoke about his work in Sochi with one of Assistant Prof. Amy Caples’ classes via Skype. His daughter, Lauren, is a senior majoring in communications. He remains active with his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi.
-by Jeff Cronin, SMC Communications