The usual buzz within the host city of the Super Bowl picks up steam on the Monday before the big game. That's when players speak to the media for opening night and when Radio Row officially begins. But while interviews with former players and networking with some of the most important members of the industry creates a humming noise that seems to reverberate throughout the streets of the city outside, this year is a much more muted affair.
Because of COVID-19 and the travel restrictions it necessitates, only 35 radio stations and podcasts were granted media access for Super Bowl Radio Row this year, which is roughly a third of the normal amount. Most of those were radio stations from Kansas City and Tampa, the latter of which is the host city, thus making travel easier. But that reality doesn't make the scene inside the Tampa Convention Center any less odd when compared to past years.
Now look at it in 2015. Remember, it's gotten much bigger since then.
Usually Radio Row is packed with media members chasing after former players, celebrities and other interesting guests for interviews. It starts on Monday but picks up steam throughout the week and reaches a crescendo on Thursday and Friday with a sea of humanity on the hunt for any famous guest. Despite being in cavernous convention centers like the one above, it can be hard to maneuver around Radio Row later in the week as celebrities and their handlers carve a path from one booth to the next for interviews. Again, not an issue this year.
As the week progresses, the room will fill up more and interviews will be conducted. But Radio Row will not be the same in 2021 as before. Gone is the hum created when a few hundred prognosticators get in a room and try and speak over their neighbors. It will be back in the future, but not this year.