Where were you when the lights went out?

CBS CMO George Schweitzer was at the Superdome when the lights went out during the Super Bowl.

CBS News was inside the NFL operations booth when the lights went out.

Where was I when the lights went out?

I was at my post for the game in the CBS operations center inside the Superdome, sitting next to our head of NFL sales and our director of operations. As with every Super Bowl, we stayed in constant communication with the production truck to make sure all the commercials and promo spots played as scheduled. There are formats, rules, and procedures, and our job is to oversee them. We are there for quality control, and usually it all goes right.

Nothing prepared us for what we heard over the director's intercom: "The lights just went out in the stadium! Standby!"

Then we lost power in our area and the TVs went out. We did not know what was on the air -- or not on the air.

Did you ever see your life flash before your eyes? Childhood. School. Friends. The '60s (nice!). Marriage. Kids. Ice cream. That was it.

So many questions ran through my head: What was happening? Why? What would this mean? How long until it's fixed? What if it's not fixed? Are we safe? What happens to the commercials? And importantly: how does this affect CBS?

I left the trailer and headed inside the stadium tunnel; there was confusion, tech people running, bewilderment. But ultimately, and most importantly, there was calm.

It seemed that people were thinking, "What can I do, and how can I help?" And it showed.

I went back into our control room and we were on the air, reporting from a field camera that had power. I later learned that we had never gone off the air. The cause of the power outage is still unknown. But in the end, we had two football games separated by a mystery drama -- just what CBS does best!

Editors' note: CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.

About the author

    George Schweitzer's position as chief marketing officer at CBS gives him a unique opportunity not only to observe but also to help shape the ways technology is altering the television industry. A communications major at Boston University who joined CBS after graduation some 30 years ago, George is also an unabashed technology geek who specializes in the latest home automation and entertainment gear.

     

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