Lee Baker, longtime sports director for KVII in Amarillo, visited the Rotary at its weekly meeting on Tuesday. Baker answered questions from attendees and spoke on how social media has affected how news is reported. Baker is entering his 30th season covering football in the panhandle area, so he definitely has been through many changes in the media.
“The ongoing situation is that the media is so fast and furious, that the general public can find out things before I do. A player can post on the Internet that they are getting cut from the team, and the whole world knows in thirty seconds,” said Baker. He also confessed that he does not use Facebook or Twitter, and he just recently started getting e-mails sent to his phone. Because of this, Baker said that they choose to focus on local sports and sports-related stories that the general public may not be aware of.
When asked what his favorite thing about covering sports in the panhandle was, Baker said that he loves how supportive communities are of their teams. “In my first or second year in the panhandle, I was covering the Amarillo High v. Palo Duro game. There were 14,000 people there at this high school football game. That has always stuck out in my mind. It astounded me how much people love their Texas high school football.”
Baker commented that his sportscast everyday is limited to three minutes long. That certainly isn’t much time once football season starts rolling. People wonder how the sportscaster picks and chooses which stories to cover, and to that, Baker said, “If Follett, TX is in the state championship, they will get a lot of coverage. People in the panhandle care about teams in the panhandle going far in the playoffs, no matter who they are.”
Baker also related the story of meeting Bob Knight, who he calls one of the most interesting people that he has gotten to interview. “As fate would have it, I was at Indiana University when he was hired. I moved away, eventually ended up in Texas, and I was here when he was hired at Texas Tech. Dusty Green, the news director at the time, somehow got our station an interview with him before any of the Lubbock stations. I was playing golf in Pampa, and they had to come out on the course and track me down, and I headed to Lubbock to do the interview. He’s a very nice guy unless you say something he doesn’t like, then he can be snippy. He’s definitely been the most interesting.”
Concluding the program, Baker remarked, “If you watch Channel 7, then good for you. If you watch ‘the others’ then I guess that’s okay too.”