Western Carolina alumnus Jarrett Frazier currently wakes up in Rio, right in the middle of the Olympic Village where more than 11,000 of the world’s best athletes have gathered to compete for gold.
Frazier, a 2012 WCU graduate, isn’t there to contend for a medal, but he does have one of the best seats in the house behind a sea of TV screens pulling in all the best video footage from every venue for broadcast around the globe. As an ingest supervisor with NBC Sports, Frazier’s role is to manage and monitor all of the records for each feed of every event during the games. In other words, he’s part of an NBC team that makes it possible for us to watch the games up close from our living room couches.
All events are produced by Olympic Broadcasting Services and NBC produces its own feed of select events at the same time.
“We record all of the events from NBC and OBS, which will go into our archive system for long-term use,” Frazier said. “Basically, I will be operating a giant DVR system with up to 60 channels I can record and then play back.”
This isn’t the first Olympic adventure for Frazier. In fact, Frazier worked the 2012 Olympic Games in London just months after graduation from WCU as an intern for NBC. Afterword, Frazier was hired full-time by NBC Sports to work in its new facility in Stamford, Connecticut. This time around, he will supervise two others as they handle all of the recordings of events on about 60 individual record channels.
Frazier also worked at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. When he’s not covering the Olympics, Frazier is a transmission associate engineer for NBC where he monitors transmissions entering and leaving the Stamford facility. The feeds range from press conferences to events such as Sunday Night Football and NHL games.
Frazier, who also went to Smoky Mountain High School, graduated from WCU with a bachelor’s degree in communication with a dual-concentration in broadcasting and journalism and a minor in leadership.
While at WCU, Frazier was the station manager at TV-62, the student-operated campus television station. He also worked as a photography assistant in the WCU Office of Communications and Public Relations.
Frazier said the most exciting part about working at the Olympics is the first five days of competition when he and his team have hundreds of recordings each day.
“The fast-paced environment requires constant attention to detail and is easy to get lost in the mass of everything happening all around,” Frazier said. “Thankfully, NBC always has the best-of-the-best in the business and I have always treasured having the opportunity to work with such a great group of professionals.”
Frazier says travel concerns are overblown
Frazier is working 12-hour days, which means there will be little free time. What time there is after work is balanced with sleep. He has, however, been able to see iconic sites such as Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana, as well as sample the cuisine at a few Brazilian steakhouses.
“I hope to have a few nights after my shift to walk around the Olympic Park and see the venues and the variety of fans attending the events,” he said.
Prior to this year’s Games, there were numerous media reports about concerns about the Zika virus, crime and contaminated water where the rowing events will take place. Brazil has registered nearly 1.5 million Zika cases, but cases have declined by 87 percent since February to 2,000 in early May.
Frazier said there are valid threats when traveling to any major city in the world. Since arriving in Rio on July 19, Frazier has found most of those earlier reports to be overblown.
“My time in Rio so far has been very enjoyable, and with all of the security around the Olympic area, I never go to work feeling scared or worried,” Frazier said. “As for Zika, there are currently more confirmed cases in Florida than here in Rio. Most people forget that it is winter here and the lower temperatures have certainly helped to reduce the amount of mosquitos.
“Overall, from what I’ve experienced, the city of Rio is not as bad as many reports make it out to be.”
Frazier isn’t WCU’s only connection to the Olympics. Alum Dan Railey ’69 discussed what it’s like to watch his daughter, Paige Railey, compete on the USA sailing team.