For more than 15 years, Trevor Pilling has had a hand in CBC broadcasts of the world’s biggest sporting events and each one of them presents a new challenge.
The latest project to monopolize the Brandon native’s time is the preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Pilling was the executive producer for CBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and he said technological advances have made the task very different despite the short passage of time. He said viewers will be able to see virtually every moment of next year’s Games — on CBC and its partnering sports networks or online.
"Back in 2008, the iPad hadn’t been invented, so that in itself is very different," said Pilling, who is now the head of programming for CBC Sports, overseeing the Olympics, ‘Hockey Night in Canada’, Sports Weekend and the network’s online sports content. "Video distribution over phones didn’t really exist in 2008, so how you make sure that you’re giving consumers what they want when they want it is very important. Not only that it’s delivered to those platforms — digital platforms or broadcast platforms — but how do you inform them what is on where and when has also had to change."
Pilling, 44, has already made two trips to Sochi to lay down the groundwork, the latest in February when he checked out the facilities and took part in broadcaster meetings. In addition to his Olympic work, the two-time Gemini Award winner was the executive producer for CBC’s 2010 World Cup soccer coverage and has played a role in five Grey Cup broadcasts.
It’s a demanding job, but one that Pilling never tires of, and he said the thrill for him is represented by the reaction to his closing montage from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
"Canada had won the gold medal for the first time in a really, really long time in men’s hockey and I was able to cut a piece of video that, five years later, someone wrote me a note about and told me how they remembered it and how it made them feel," he said. "I think for anyone in my position …if you can create a piece of content that people remember, even for a day, let alone over the course of a number of years, that’s where the true joy comes from."
Now based out of Toronto, Pilling said he makes it back to Brandon at least twice a year — for some summer R & R at Pelican Lake and at Christmastime. But his ties to Brandon extend beyond his family roots. Pilling began his career here 27 years ago and he said the fundamentals he learned at CKX Television and producing cable access broadcasts of Brandon University basketball with good friend Greg Sherris still guide him today.
"All of the same fundamentals of commitment, of hard work, of storytelling all apply today just as they did when I started working in CKX back in 1986," he said. "So while the specifics and the technology and the business have changed, the fundamentals of hard work and being passionate about what you’re doing translate into success or failure at the lowest and at the highest levels."