It's a new era at NBC. Gone is the old ownership structure, with cable TV giant Comcast now calling the shots. Gone is Dick Ebersol as NBC Sports' lead man, with Mark Lazarus now in charge - although Ebersol is an advisor.
So after today's opening ceremony, an unprecedented amount of coverage on television will follow in the ensuing 16 days. In fact, NBC says every event other than the opening and closing ceremonies will be shown live online - although to see most of the content viewers must have CNBC and MSNBC via cable, satellite or other means and also register at nbcolympics.com.
But in NBC tradition, major events on TV will air on tape in prime time, as has been the case when the Games have been held in a time zone that doesn't align with the peak viewership period in the U.S. (London, the epicenter of this summer's Games, is six hours ahead of St. Louis time). The parade of delayed events starts tonight, when NBC (KSDK, Channel 5 locally) shows the opening festivities at 6:30 p.m. - 31/2 hours after they are set to start.
While longtime St. Louisan Bob Costas will serve as NBC's prime time host for the ninth time, St. Louis native Steve Schlanger makes his Olympics debut. He broadcasts men's and women's cycling, men's and women's triathlon and men's and women's open water swimming.
Schlanger, who grew up in Shrewsbury, went to St. Louis University High and the University of Missouri, was a rising sportscaster locally in the mid-1990s, when he was in his mid-20s, at KSD (550 AM), which now is KTRS. He also was a fill-in Cardinals radio broadcaster in 1998 and has appeared on Rams-related radio programming and was on J.C. Corcoran's popular "Breakfast Club" entertainment-oriented show on KSD (93.7 FM).
He later moved to Los Angeles and worked for Fox Sports Net and while his career developed into creating and producing TV shows he also maintained some play-by-play assignments and has returned to St. Louis.
"I've been lucky enough to broadcast some fairly important events in my career including British Open golf and grand slam tennis among others," Schlanger said Thursday. "However, the Olympics are the single biggest event in sports."
He'll call the men's cycling road race on Saturday, beginning at 4 a.m. St. Louis time.
"It is the marquee event of the first weekend and we will be live on NBC for the better part of six hours," he said. "So it is both an honor and humbling to play such a role."
There's will be much more for him in England. He also is hosting a daily show on Sirius XM Radio that airs at noon St. Louis time (Channel 93 on Sirius, channel 209 on XM), plus he'll make several appearances on the E! News TV channel that figure to be more light- hearted than his other assignments. But actual events coverage will be the meat of his existence for the next 21/2 weeks.
"Calling multiple events is mostly a logistical challenge," he said. "I have been juggling meetings with different producers and athletes from several different sports for a while now. Trying to stay current ... on everything at once has been the toughest part because things are so fluid and something is always changing. …