Last night, my wife and I were locked into the Agassi-Blake match on USA when, at 11:35pm, the lead announcer said, “due to contractual obligations, we’ll have to leave the air in a few moments, but you can see the remainder of this match on your local CBS station.” That meant it was time for the CBS late-night show, which apparently has an exclusive on all things tennis at that hour, so USA had to yield the coverage. The CBS show is usually nothing but highlights, but last night would have the live conclusion of this five-set classic.
My wife didn’t grasp the enormity of this situation, but I did.
You see, the CBS network sticks the US Open late-night show at 11:35pm between David Letterman and Craig Ferguson. But KMOV-4, the St. Louis CBS affiliate, doesn’t normally air Letterman and Ferguson back-to-back. Instead, they insert “Inside Edition” at 11:35pm, then go to Ferguson at 12:05am.
During the tournament, they don’t run the US Open show right after Letterman — they still go straight to “Inside Edition” before the tennis! So, here we were watching an exciting live sports event on one channel, only to have it taken off the air — and then had to wait thirty minutes until we could see the conclusion on the other channel, on tape delay!
My wife, the big tennis fan in our house (who had also been up since 6am), was apoplectic, almost demanding that I call KMOV general manager Alan Cohen so she could yell at him over this scheduling snafu. While I know Alan (KMOV and KMOX are in the same building and we run into each other all the time), I don’t have his home number — which is a good thing, because he would have learned some new FCC-unfriendly words at that point.
Finally, at 12:05am, KMOV rolled the CBS tape and we could resume watching the fifth set. And because it wasn’t late enough, it went to a tiebreaker before Agassi squeaked out a win over Blake.
By then, it was 12:45am and we were nearly as exhausted as the players.