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Hillsboro's 'golden voice' calls the Rio Olympics -- from Connecticut

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Rich Burk of Hillsboro, left, the voice of the Hillsboro Hops, is calling some of the contests at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from a studio in Stamford, Conn., this  week and next.Rich Burk may be known as the voice of the Hillsboro Hops baseball team, but these days the Hillsboro resident is calling a much larger sporting event as he helps cover the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Burk is doing play-by-play announcing for NBC Sports for a number of different events at the Rio Olympics, one of 170 commentators the television network has brought in to cover the games.

But Burk isn’t basking in the Brazilian sun. Instead, he’s working from Stamford, Conn., the headquarters of NBC Sports.

“It’s a dynamic situation,” Burk told the Tribune on Tuesday. “You’re not sure until a day or two before, or maybe that day, which events will be the biggest stories. A lot has to do with what Americans are in particular events.”

Burk is covering a wide variety of games. He covered the women’s trap shooting gold-medal match and will cover the men’s 50-kilometer race walking event on Aug. 19 on NBCSN from 4 to 8 a.m. Pacific time (7 to 11 a.m. Eastern).

Burk is primarily working with NBC's 4K coverage of the games, calling much of the games' coverage of swimming. 4K is a new format of ulta-high definition television. 4K televisions are seen by many industry officials as the next big step in television technology. To tune into the 4K coverage, you’ll need a 4K television set and your cable provider will need to offer the games in 4K, Burk said.

"The bigger events that I call are not really available to most people, yet," he said.

Watch it

The games are being broadcast across several networks, including NBC, the NBC Sports Network, Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Spanish language channels Telemundo and NBC Universo and the NBC Sports app and carried online.

Don’t have a 4K television? No problem. Burk will be calling the men’s 50-kilometer race walking event on NBCSN from 4 to 8 a.m. Pacific time (7 to 11 a.m. Eastern).

Other events, such as Burk's coverage of the gold medal match for the Men’s 10-meter air pistol competition, were carried on cable on MSNBC.

Burk“Brazil, the host country, had a chance to win its first shooting medal since 1920,” Burk wrote on his blog,, last week. “Turns out they did, as Felipe Wu took silver. But they hadn’t counted on an even bigger story, Hoang Xuan Vinh … took gold, the first Olympic gold medal for Vietnam. In any sport. Ever.”

It’s those kind of events that make the Olympics such as special sporting event, he said.

“My most important job is to tell the stories of the athletes,” Burk said. “That’s what we remember. Yes, we like gold medals and the opening ceremony, but the heart of the Olympics are the stories of the athletes. That’s what they play-by-play is for. It’s not just about the score and the technical aspects, it’s about telling the stories of the participants.”

The Olympics come to a close on Aug. 21. The next Olympics — the winter games of 2018 — will be held in South Korea, before heading to Tokyo in 2020.

With luck, Burk said, this won’t be his last Olympics.

“I’d be back in a heartbeat,” he said. “I’d love to call Olympic baseball if I got the chance. Olympic swimming is great and volleyball is a spectacle. I love calling volleyball.”

Burk has called 11 different sports for the PAC 12 Network, any of which he said he could easily step into on the international level.

“Honestly, I’m happy to call any of them,” he said.

By Geoff Pursinger
Associate Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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