Squeezed into a corner of a bustling old-time newsroom, armed with a computer monitor and a speaker phone, Kevin Cosgrove is 3,000 miles and seemingly light years from his former job in Manhattan as a producer at ABC World News Tonight. Nonetheless, one truth of the news business is the same. "Live," says Cosgrove, "builds an audience." Having moved to Portland in 1998 to be editor-in-chief of Oregon Live, which is affiliated with The Oregonian, Cosgrove has applied that dictum in attracting an audience among the state's high school football fans. His webcast, Prep Football Spotlight, available at oregonlive.com/spotlight/, serves up high school games as they unfold for four hours every Friday during the season, starting at 6:30 p.m. (PT).
Hosted by Cosgrove, a 52-year-old native of Manchester, England, and Ed Burton, a 60-year-old former football coach at two Oregon high schools, the webcast keeps tabs on as many as 120 games. The on-screen scoreboard is updated every 90 seconds while Cosgrove and Burton provide analysis in the manner of Chris Fowler and Lee Corso on ESPN's College Gameday. (Last Friday, after previously being heard but not seen, they took their act onscreen for the first time.) They receive reports from more than 90 cell-phone-wielding volunteers who are frequently called upon to give on-air updates.
Every Friday, Cosgrove and Burton tab the evening's top 20 games. As the action unfolds, however, they break the pattern when bigger stories emerge, as on Sept. 21 when Banks High won its first game in five years by beating The Dalles High 12-6. Surfers can converse in a chat room or switch to the streaming videocast of the weekly doubleheader played at Portland's PGE Park. The next wrinkle? Cosgrove has visions of reporters carrying video cameras and transmitting to the show through cell phones.