Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 04/02/2017

From 2008 to 2011, there was one media team that established the bar for live tournament coverage. Wide Open with Mark Jeffreys, Matt Pangrac and The Legend, Harold Allen set the standard for four years, covering the Bassmaster Elite Series.  The team of Jeffreys, Pangrac and Allen were the first media company to establish live coverage of professional bass fishing in 2008.

Using cellular service, in 2008, Jeffreys established a system utilizing Harold Allen and Matt Pangrac to describe the live action on the water during the Elite Series events to the BASS ZONE viewers.  Along with the cell phone play-by-play, viewers were able to communicate with The Legend and Pangrac through an online instant messaging system, getting real time answers to their questions.

Now, nine years later, the team will be getting back together for one night at the Elite stop at Toledo Bend. On Saturday April 8th at 7:30 pm Central Time, the original Wide Open crew returns.  The Saturday Night Wide Open Post-Game Show will bring back some memories of a magical time for the trio.

"Since the Legend lives on Toledo Bend, it was a great time to bring the team back for one night," said Jeffreys.  "I'm sure the stories will be flying all over the place with the Legend.  The man has some stories."

Although B.A.S.S. has now set the standard for live coverage with their cellular banding process, six years ago was a magical time for the Bass Zone team.  During the Harris Chain stop in 2011, the BZ crew became the first to stream live video action from the water, featuring a battle between Grant Goldbeck and Shaw Grigsby. (See video below)

"There was so much effort placed into the process back in the early years," said Jeffreys.  "I really don't think people realize how difficult it was for us, and how much time and money is invested into the live coverage by BASS and FLW to get the product you see currently.  BASS and FLW have done a great job with the technology available.  We did it on a very small budget, and sweat equity.  We had the best on the water guys covering the action.   Nobody did a better job at describing the action without giving away the juice before the final day than Matt and Harold. Matt and Harold were awesome."

Recently, Wired 2 Fish President, Terry Brown, inked a story in the Bloomington, Illinois Pantagraph covering the live streaming explosion and gives Jeffreys and his team credit for the innovation in live coverage years ago.  Below is the story by Terry Brown:

Bassmaster Classic week is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the NCAA basketball finals and opening day for MLB too, but the Classic is where my passion lies. It means the beginning of the fishing season to many and is a giant reunion filled with new products and great friends. This year, it’s in Houston.

I have attended more than 30 of these extravaganzas and just when I think they can’t get better, something trips the emotional trigger to do just that. Each one brings out the real reasons I love my job and get to hang around anglers at all levels.

BASS continues to step things up every year and now, with its “live” on-the-water coverage, has ratcheted it up further. Mark Zona, a BASS and TV personality, recently said on his new “Zona Live” entry that the way to get more people excited about fishing is to do these live shows. No question it gives the emotions, techniques and the fun firsthand much better than a production TV show that for years was the status quo. He credited BassZone’s Mark Jeffreys for making that happen and rightfully so.

Jeffreys and the BassZone started this type of coverage well before many thought it was possible with Matt Pangrac and legendary bass pro Harold Allen giving live on-the-water updates of the BASS top tier tournaments and Jeffreys in studio highlighting the competition. They shed new light on what many had been awaiting for years.

Dan Swaney, from WJBC at the time, and I had done live radio from the weigh-in at the Peoria Superstars Tournament several years before they got started and honestly it was a tough nut to crack with BASS.

They were not sure they wanted live coverage, but gave us the opportunity. The late Tim Tucker and Gary Guidice had a radio program from the Classic too, but ultimately Jeffreys was the first to test the technology limits on desolate locations and the use of live on-the-water video reporting from the scene.

Jeffreys always has been an innovator and his work with live digital TV for sports venues at the high school level, combined with his love for fishing, was the impetus to raise the bar. I always accused him of killing productivity in the workforce as avid anglers were watching instead of working at their workplaces.

Before Jeffreys’ efforts, diehards had to wait to hear who won via the grapevine or in a presser that followed the event. BASS Times and Bassmaster magazine covered the events well, too, but they were sometimes weeks after the event. Jeffreys changed all of that.

Jeffreys continues to elevate live coverage with his Bass Talk Live Program webcast covering the trails and the anglers of those trails in a live format. Not only is the webcast informative, it is funny, too, as he and Pangrac poke fun at each other as well as their guests. No question Jeffreys was integral in bringing bass fishing front and center to digital audiences.

The dynamics of the Classic have changed greatly over the past few years with the addition of master of ceremonies Dave Mercer. Mercer is an excellent MC, but an even better interviewer and knows when and what to ask better than anyone.

Saturday night April 8th with be a special day for the BZ.  The technology, the people and the players in the live coverage game have changed.  But you can't take away the passion and fun the Wide Open crew had for covering the game of professional bass fishing.  Now, take a look back at some of the memories from past with Mark, Matt and the Legend.

The Promos for the 2008 Season

2011 Harris Chain Live Coverage

2008 Lake Erie Preview