BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Chris Carlin chose to look at the positive side.
“Apparently I can either do the show,” he told Newsday of his “The Afternoon Drive” program on WFAN from Radio Row at Super Bowl LII this week, “or, if I get bored, go ride a roller coaster or play miniature golf.”
That’s because Radio Row is situated squarely in the middle of the Mall of America. It’s a small area cordoned off right across from the afore-mentioned miniature golf course, within sight of the indoor roller coasters, and plum smack in the middle of thousands of people who are strolling past doing a little mid-week shopping.
To give Long Islanders a sense of what it’s like, imagine every sports radio station in the country set up shoulder-to-shoulder next to the food court at Roosevelt Field Mall. That’s what this is like.
Carlin, his co-hosts Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, and producer Brian Monzo, were sitting at their base of operation right at the entrance to the roped-off area with the smells of Shake Shack and Carlo’s bakery wafting over them.
“If you ever need beef jerky, this is the place,” Carlin said, pointing over his shoulder to a store that specializes in the stuff.
Monzo said this is his fifth time producing on Radio Row.
“I’m not complaining, but it’s a little tight,” he said of this year’s setup. “There are about 500 stations crammed into what feels like the size of a football field as opposed to being spread out at a convention center with space to breathe. But we’ll get through it.”
Just over a month ago folks were lined up in this same spot for a chance to meet Santa Claus. This week, they’re lining up to catch a glimpse of the football stars and other celebrities who will be bouncing from station to station throughout the week.
“Today it’s not a big deal,” Monzo said of the light traffic on Monday. “Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, I hope that security brings their ‘A’ game because there are going to be a lot of big-time celebrities here. I know there are ‘no autograph’ signs. I understand the impulse, I’m a fan as well, but I can see that being a little cumbersome.”
Monzo did say he was pleased with WFAN’s location within the madness. They are right in front of the entrance so they can grab interviewees as they walk in. Plus, it’s nice to be near a landmark.
“I think it’s easy because you can tell people where you are,” he said of coordinating interviews. “‘We’re right across from Shake Shack.’ That’s easy to find . . . We got lucky with this location.”
Carlin was cracking jokes about the setup, but even he admitted that this was more than a unique experience.
“Bizarre doesn’t even begin to cover it,” he said.
Then he excused himself to return to his work preparing for the Monday show,
“If you need me,” he said, “I’ll be at the Orange Julius.”