The three network affiliates that carry local news and one local cable news channel are planning extra coverage from Jacksonville for the Buffalo Bills first NFL playoff game in 18 years.
The sports reporters and anchors being sent to Florida all have something in common that illustrates how long it has been since the Bills made the postseason and how much turnover there has been in sports departments here since the drought started in 2000: None of them has covered a Bills playoff game because none of them was on the air locally on Jan. 8, 2000, when the Bills had their last playoff game.
And almost all of them weren't even old enough to be in broadcasting back then.
WIVB-TV (Channel 4), the local CBS affiliate, has the advantage of carrying Sunday's game against the Jaguars and kicks off its coverage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with a special edition of Buffalo Kickoff LIVE from the (716) Food and Sport at HarborCenter.
Channel 4 General Manager Dominic Mancuso said the station will have "the combined resources" of Nexstar stations in Buffalo and Rochester, with Channel 4's Josh Reed and WROC's Thad Brown live from Jacksonville.
That is an addition to the hour edition of the program starting at 11 a.m. Sunday before CBS' coverage takes over with "The NFL Today." Channel 4 also will have a live local post-game show.
WKBW-TV (Channel 7), which pays to be called the official station of the Bills and carries their preseason games, is sending sports director Joe Buscaglia and newcomer Jenna Callari on Friday to cover fan stories, the game and post-game. Matt Bove, who covered the Sabres' 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on New Year's Day in the Winter Classic in New York City, will be helping out with coverage in Buffalo.
Channel 7 is carrying a special edition of its new program, "The Now," at 7 p.m. Friday that will focus on the playoff game. Buscaglia will contribute to the show that plans to address a variety of story lines.
Buscaglia and Callari will provide live coverage from Jacksonville Saturday and post-game coverage at 6 and 11 p.m. Sunday.
The Bills are producing a special edition of the "Sean McDermott Show," which runs at 11 a.m. Sunday on Channel 7 opposite Channel 4's pregame show.
WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) is sending Jonah Javad and Heather Prusak and will get assistance from a reporter from a sister station in Jacksonville with the Tegna group. Javad is on his farewell tour. He is leaving for a job in Dallas at the end of February after NBC's coverage of the Olympics ends. The station's Sunday morning show, "Sports Talk Sunday," also may have a special guest, according to General Manager Jim Toellner.
Spectrum News Buffalo, the 24-hour cable channel that is available to about half of Western New York homes, is sending sports anchor Kevin Carroll and reporters Jon Scott and Andy Young to Jacksonville. It will air a 30-minute preview special at 11 a.m. Sunday, which means viewers will have their choice of three pregame specials at 11 a.m. Sunday. Spectrum's pregame show will be repeated at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Throughout daytime Saturday and its Sunday evening newscasts, Spectrum will feature reports from its three-person crew.