There are a lot of reasons why broadcasting baseball for a living, particularly on radio, is fun for me. One of the most enjoyable parts is the challenge that you create for yourself to make someone who is not at the ballpark FEEL like they’re at the ballpark. The phrase “paint the picture for the listener” can be used so often in this line of work that sometimes it loses its luster. But that truly is what you’re supposed to do with the game on radio. I had two experiences just yesterday that reinforced the power of radio.
First, in the middle of the workday here at the ballpark I received a phone call from a loyal Sounds fan. Initially I wasn’t exactly sure why he called, but he proceeded to welcome me to Nashville, ask about my background, talk about the Sounds, etc. Late in the conversation he told me how much he looks forward to listening to the Sounds radio broadcasts this season. He said he listens to almost every game, even the few games he’s able to attend in person (side note: want to compliment a radio guy? tell him you bring the radio with you to the games). He said that he has vision problems and can’t track the ball very well, and he relies on the radio broadcast to tell him the story of the game. Trust me, there are few greater feelings for a sports announcer than to be told by a die-hard fan that they literally are relying on you to bring them the game and paint the picture for them.
Then yesterday afternoon I was in a meeting with a potential Sounds corporate sponsor. We were discussing some of the different ways a company could market its product via the Sounds, and the subject of the radio broadcasts came up. Naturally, as the team’s announcer, I was hoping this avenue would seem appealing to him. Well, I didn’t have to sell it very hard. One of his comments sort of summed up, to me, the value of radio over something like television in terms of advertising. We were talking about hamburgers, and I said sometimes talking about food on the radio has a greater effect than seeing food on the television. The client said, “Totally! If I start hearing someone describe hamburgers while I’m in the car, I think, ‘man, a burger sounds good right now.’ If I see it on TV, I might think the picture doesn’t look good or that I’m full.”
I was glad to hear from two people yesterday who, for very different reasons, believe in the power of the imagination.
Thanks for listening! (On the Air…and Off)