Technology, Desire for Hometown Perspective Could Save Football Radio

By DJ Byrnes on September 23, 2013 at 11:40a

From Richard Dietsch at MMQB:

What makes a successful radio broadcast for football? “It’s all about your ability to relay the action in a timely and descriptive manner while also conveying the emotion of the game,” says Ian Eagle, who calls Thursday night football for Westwood One Radio, as well as wild-card and divisional playoff games. (Kevin Harlan is the radio voice of Monday night football and the Super Bowl.) “There is a certain ebb and flow to a radio broadcast,” Eagle adds. “But most importantly you have to ask yourself the question, ‘Are the listeners getting the information they need to follow along?’ ”

Eagle says the score, time remaining, down and distance, which team has the ball and which direction its driving is the basic framework of an NFL radio broadcast.

“Then you get into the particulars—who has the ball, who made the tackle, did the ball carrier run left or right, where are the receivers lined up pre-snap, was the play inside or outside,” says Eagle. “The next step is being more specific with your calls: Did the runner slash or stutter step? Did the pass hit the receiver in the numbers or did he catch it with his hands? What color are the uniforms? What are the weather conditions? This is often where football play-by-play announcers can separate themselves from others. In addition, you should be ready to ‘tag’ what your analyst is saying if there is something that you can add to enhance his point. But it can’t get in the way of describing the next play.”

Given that Ohio State games have had television announcers give us such gems as "Rod Jones" and "John Bosa," perhaps it is time to give radio announcers a bit of love. (I know some old-timers [hey, Dad] who like to mute the television and sync it with the radio broadcast.) 

It's also a lot easier to pick-up the audio on your cellphone these days than move a television when you're out-of-pocket, and radio announcers, on average, are more refined in their skills, because they don't have the visual television provides to lean-on.


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Idaho Helga's picture

I probably listen to radio broadcasts (especially NFL) as much or more than I watch them on TV.  If it's not my favorite team but I'm interested in the game, I can do other things around the house with the radio.  If the game gets interesting enough to where I want to watch it, I can always drop whatever I'm doing and go turn the TV on.
I also think the quality of announcers is almost always far better with radio.  It also seems like significantly fewer commercials.

Hovenaut's picture

I listened to the Florida A&M game via The Ohio State Buckeyes Football Radio Network (WNDH 103.7 FM out of Napoleon).
We're fortunate enough to have such a high profile major football program that is usually broadcast week in and week out.
Actually enjoyed the call from Keels (I did) and Lachey, a nice throwback to some early memories with my father, uncles and older cousins when I was a little kid back home.
I'll always prefer watching the game - live if I can ever get back home - on tv, but I can honestly say I wouldn't mind taking in one game (especially these early non-conference tilts) the old fashioned way once or so a season. 

buckeyemondo's picture

keels is one of the best play by play guys there is.  not many guys can do both football & basketball as well as he does.  only thing is that he shouldn't try to spot numbers by himself -- gets a few wrong in the rush to give listeners a name.

BKLYN_Buckeye's picture

I would love to do radio but there is always an issue with syncing the audio w/ the video. Does anybody have any tips to match the two?

JBuckeye's picture
Haven't tried it, but it's not terribly expensive if it works.  There is also an Arduino version out there for the techies out there.

Northbrook's picture

I have one of those and it works fine. I must be an old timer because I always listen to the radio broadcast.
There are probably software solutions to sync the radio broadcast.

RBuck's picture

Showing my age, I grew up in the 50's and 60's. Not much sports on TV back then. For some strange reason I actually prefer to listen to the Tribe and the Browns on the radio in lieu of TV. Buckeyes no, but I can do radio if I have to.

Long live the southend.

albinomosquito's picture

I probably listen to 3 or 4 games every year.  I've got family all over the state, so it never fails that I end up driving somewhere on a Saturday.  I got stuck in the car during the second half of the Purdue game last year.  I must say, Paul Keels does a hell of a job.