As you’d expect, radio stations in Boston and Los Angeles are broadcasting from Atlanta this week. And so are radio stations based in London and Vancouver and Sioux Falls, S.D.
In all, more than 100 stations are broadcasting live from Super Bowl LIII Radio Row in the Georgia World Congress Center.
The space, which has Super Bowl banners hanging from the ceiling, is abuzz with sports talk show hosts debating and dissecting every aspect of Sunday’s big game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. A few stations and networks have elaborate sets, but most broadcast from closely bunched tables. Current and former NFL players, coaches and team executives and other celebrities rotate from station to station, doing one brief interview after another.
The star power is considerable. At the same time Thursday morning, a former heavyweight boxing champion (Evander Holyfield), a former Heisman Trophy winner (Herschel Walker) and two former NFL Most Valuable Players (Kurt Warner and Matt Ryan) were on the scene.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson made the rounds Wednesday, offering his take on the Patriots-Rams matchup to a Boston interviewer: “It’s hard to go against (Patriots quarterback Tom) Brady, but I’d love to see the Rams win. I’d love to see (Rams running back Todd) Gurley get one.”
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Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield did a media blitz of about a dozen interviews, telling Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio: “We want to be (at the Super Bowl) at this time next year. We want to be playing.”
Falcons owner Arthur Blank also made the rounds, fielding questions about the pass interference non-call in the NFC Championship game (“that was one question we knew was coming,” Blank said later) and Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s $2 hot dogs, among other topics.
“It’s an opportunity always to give a league perspective on some things,” said Blank, who has done a round of Radio Row interviews at each Super Bowl since buying the Falcons. “I think personally it’s important for organizations, owners, obviously coaches and players, to be available to the media. … Without them, I mean, we are talking to ourselves in a closet.
“It’s important that we be transparent and share as much as we can and give fans an insight into anything we can. And I enjoy doing it.”
Radio Row isn’t open to the public; credentials are required to access that portion of the Congress Center. Many of the celebrities are there on behalf of companies or projects with which they have endorsement deals. They are rushed from interview to interview by publicists.
New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley made a series of stops in advance of being named the Pepsi Rookie of the Year in a public online vote. Also spotted: Pro Football Hall of Famers Thurman Thomas and Morten Andersen, former Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward and former Falcons and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, among many others.
William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, was on Radio Row on Thursday afternoon for a live interview with a Kansas City station. Earlier in the day, he had done a phone interview with a station in New Zealand.
“You can’t buy this kind of marketing,” Pate said. “To be able to have this kind of platform to showcase your city is absolutely fantastic ... because we’ve got to stay top-of-mind for sporting events, for conventions, for all the things we want to bring to the city.”
The radio outlets are part of the massive media contingent covering Super Bowl LIII. According to the NFL, more than 5,800 media members from about 25 countries are credentialed to cover the game and/or related events in Atlanta.
The game will be televised live in more than 180 countries and territories. Among the countries with networks that will broadcast the game via on-site crews in Atlanta, according to the NFL: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the United Kingdom.