You may recognize Jim Rome from his perch atop the world of sports talk radio as his syndicated show The Jungle has conquered the ratings books since its inception in 1996. Or you may know him as the host of the ESPN afternoon staple of eight years . Some people love him for his intelligent 'takes' and vast sports knowledge mixed with humor, while others absolutely loathe his brash personality. No matter which category you fall into, it is impossible to ignore the man known as "Van Smack."
As one of the only live national solo acts -- others include Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly -- to pull off a radio and TV show on a daily basis, Rome is in an exclusive group with that rare talent. And in addition to hosting the shows, he writes his own stuff -- he does not have a writing staff ala Conan or Letterman. Just to pull this off for the past eight years in Los Angeles takes a true grinder with the ability to juggle things on a moment's notice. But to execute something of this magnitude during week in Dallas-Fort Worth in the midst of an ice storm required superlative efforts from a variety of parties. Don't discount the fact that Rome considered this a business trip. While many members of the media (including yours truly) were out hitting the celebrity parties, Rome was working out with his P90X fitness routine or prepping for his next show.
Doing the actual The Jungle and Jim Rome is Burning shows proved to be the easy part. Rome was staying over in downtown Dallas as his national radio show would commence everyday from 11:00am to 2:00pm from "Radio Row." That gave him exactly 90 minutes to get from Big D to as the LIVE TV show was set for 3:30pm. In the treacherous wintry conditions, ESPN and Jim Rome is Burning producer Michael Mandt were able to arrange a police escort to help guarantee the arrival of the host for what would be a 35- to 40-minute drive in ideal weather.
" week is a long week, it's a hard week, but it's a good week," Michael Mandt said. "Every year is always a logistical challenge no matter the weather. But the people of Fort Worth stepped up and did a great job in facilitating everything."
When the TV show airs from Los Angeles, the guests will more often than not appear via satellite. For Super Bowl week, the guests appear on set with Rome. And the quality of A-List guests on the show can be attributed to their respect for the popular host. The Super Bowl lineup included Joe Montana, Bucs QB Josh Freeman and NFL leading rusher Arian Foster. Some guests, such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban arrived on their own. Others had to be picked up at the airport or needed a driver to get them from Dallas to Fort Worth. Much of this task was taken care of by Dallas resident Rhiannon Adler, who served as the "Talent Coordinator Assistant."
"So many things could have gone catastrophically wrong," Adler said. "But due to the entire Mandt Bros. production team's flawless execution and the teamwork of ESPN operations, everything worked out."
Jim Rome is Burning was broadcast live every day from Fort Worth on ESPN during Super Bowl XLV week. While the set had the appearance of being inside, it was actually set up outside in the 'ESPN colony' in the heart of Sundance Square. To realize how cold it truly was, you only had to see Rome's breath as he interviewed his guests. It was the network's choice to remain outside for the fans in Fort Worth that braved the harsh elements to come out and see the broadcasts. And Rome delivered in his rapid-fire style with informed opinions on the variety of each day's events in the world of sports. Whether it is the "Huge Call of the Day" or "The Final Burn," and whether you are in a oceanfront mansion or your parents' basement, you know exactly what you are going to get from Jim Rome.
JIM ROME IS BURNING AIRS MONDAY-FRIDAY ON ESPN AT 3:30PM CENTRAL
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