Every time Kinnick Stadium roars with excitement as images of the Iowa Hawkeyes walking down the infamous stretch of tunnel flash on the big screen high above the crowd, another university team has already been hard at work for hours.
Jim Berg has been directing media and instant replay operations in the belly of Kinnick Stadium for fifteen years, and even with all that experience, Berg admits, “the hardest part of the whole day is getting to the game.”
Hours of preparation and planning go into every Hawkeye home football game and Berg counts on his staff to pull through every weekend. In a cramped cement room with no windows beneath the stadium, Berg and his team of seven control all aspects of Kinnick Stadiums media screens and audio. Over $800,000 worth of equipment is put to use to bring fans instant replays, live statistics, and the beloved Pancheros’ “Burrito Lift.”
Berg explains that he does most of the talking on game day, directing and calling cues to his staff. It’s a fast paced and high-energy job and Berg says there is a lot of what he likes to call, “friendly yelling.”
There is not a lot of turnover amongst the small staff, though Berg claims there is high demand for positions on his crew. The loyalty of his staff has allowed for Berg to communicate almost instinctively with his team without words through body language and mere eye contact. “Everybody has to know where we’re going when and how we’re getting there,” explains Berg.
Berg arrives at the underground studio around 6:00 a.m. for a typical 11:00 a.m game and immediately sets to work. There are few rules in Berg’s studio, the most important he says is no drinking, “If I can wait, you can wait.” The studio receives many visitors throughout the season, and it is important that they crew keep a professional appearance. “We do feel like we’re on display sometimes,” says Berg, joking that the staff often compares their office to living in a zoo, “people come down to see what we’re all about.”
Berg has not missed a home football game for Iowa since 1982 when he first came to the University of Iowa and joined the marching band as a part time student. Today, he continues to lead a dedicated staff who are thankful to have a job doing something they love, “we always remind ourselves that its sports,” says Berg.
Among the scores of buttons and switches hugging the corners of every inch of the room, a big red “Easy Button” toy sits amongst the switch boards, which Berg says comes in handy when things get difficult. The key to having a successful environment is to not get bogged down about mistakes, because that only leads to more mistakes says Berg.
By the time the Hawkeyes reach the field, the big screen and instant replay staff have already been in playing their own game for an hour and a half. The anticipation is always there to make sure the crew has set up everything correctly before the game even starts, “the kickoff is almost a relief,” says Berg.