News & Observer
MARCH 11, 2019 07:26 AM
The pilot still sails, quietly, behind the scenes.
Before the first game of the ACC tournament in Charlotte, the Raycom television crew will listen, over their headsets, to the old “Sail with the Pilot” jingle of the Pilot Life insurance company that once sponsored the ubiquitous syndicated broadcasts of ACC basketball.
In the production truck, and at the broadcast position, and behind the cameras, and everywhere else, they’ll sing along:
Sail with the Pilot at the wheel/On a ship sturdy from its mast to its keel
He guides through storm and wave/insures you while you save
That jingle has been off the air for years, but for the ACC it represents something bigger than life insurance. It’s a link to C.D. Chesley’s groundbreaking Saturday ACC broadcasts on local affiliates, WRAL in Raleigh, WBTV in Charlotte, WFMY in Greensboro. It’s a callback to Jefferson-Pilot, which partnered with Raycom to take over that package in 1982, becoming Lincoln Financial and then Raycom Sports and then the so-called ACC Network, the in-name-only precursor to the actual network ESPN will launch in August.
The common thread over the past 37 years has been Raycom, the Charlotte production company which became as much a part of the ACC as the ACC itself.
For decades, before cable became ubiquitous and ESPN became a monolith, the way to see ACC basketball was on a Raycom affiliate. Only in the past few years has ESPN eclipsed Raycom as the delivery vehicle for ACC basketball and football games. In the early days of ESPN, it merely carried Raycom’s broadcasts of the tournament. Now, with the August launch of ESPN’s ACC Network, Raycom is officially obsolete, at least financially.
After almost four decades, Raycom will go off the air after the ACC championship game on Sunday, taking decades of history with it.
“We all grew up with it,” said Freddie Kiger, a Chapel Hill historian and television statistician who works for ESPN and Raycom. “That was a Saturday mantra. You huddled up around the television, and watched the game of the week.”
The pilot will sail no more.
Read more here: https://www.newsobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/luke-decock/article227322449.html#storylink=cpy