London 2012: For NBC Affiliates, Olympics Coverage Means Life In The ‘Hollywood Squares’ Set

By Alex Weprin 

Just next door to the set of NBC’s “Today,” in the northeastern part of Olympic Park in East London, an unusual building rises up four stories over reclaimed marshland. It is the home of the NBC affiliates for the duration of the Olympic games.

NBC affiliates from across the country, as well as shows like The Weather Channel’s “Wake Up With Al” originate from the temporary structure, which Al Roker jokingly refers to as a “tower of babble.”

“[It’s]what I call ‘The Hollywood Squares,’ it is like nine broadcast booths,” Roker said from the NBC morning show’s set a few dozen yards away. “There is another six [booths] that are really nice, air conditioned, with windows, toilets and all that, ours are basically, well, it is a tent camp,” he added jokingly.

The structure (see the photo below) gives the affiliates a stellar view of the Olympic stadium behind them, and the boxed structure allows for multiple stations to be on the air at the same time.

The colorful affiliates "Hollywood Squares" box, center. The 'Today' Set Can be seen in the left side of the photo Credit: Alex Weprin

Of course, the tight quarters aren’t always conducive to multiple live shots, even if everyone has their own “square”:

“Tracie Potts from [NBC Newschannel and WRC] was next to us one day and I am thinking, ‘they obviously didn’t give her a microphone, because she is on the top of her lungs,'” Roker quipped.