The forgotten art of radio broadcast

Stephen Dunn

Remembering a time before having every game televised was commonplace.

Living without the Internet for a week has been humbling. Now, don't misunderstand me. I am fully aware of just how lucky I am to have Internet capabilities in the first place. I have no intention of discussing the plight of those in a lower socioeconomic status. There is a time and a place for that, but that's not what this is about.

It's just that, I am very comfortable watching the Detroit Tigers on a nightly basis on my MLB.TV account streaming through Roku.


This past week my wife, son, and I moved into a new apartment here in Orlando. We love the place, but I have been without a televised baseball game since last Thursday night, and it has made me reevaluate the ease in which I am able to watch nearly 162 televised Tigers games each year.

I have been doing crazy things like checking the box scores in the paper the next day, watching the Gameday feed on my phone, and (gasp) listening to the radio broadcasts. The craziest thing of all, however, is just how much I have enjoyed it.

As I write this, Ian Kinsler hit a line drive home run to left field. I know this because Dan Dickerson told me so. The subtle nuances that Mario Impemba uses to call a game on the television broadcast would not suffice in this instance. Dickerson is much more boisterous. More thunder in his voice. More enthusiasm.

It's just a different ballgame.

As a child growing up in South Florida, I would scan the radio meticulously every night trying to find the Atlanta Braves radio feed almost 600 miles north. On clear nights I would listen to Skip Carey through static and fall asleep. During the summer of 1993, I would visit my grandparents in Flint. I had the honor of listening to the greatest announcer of all time, Ernie Harwell, that summer and the memories are etched into my mind. I would randomly repeat his catch phrases while hitting rocks in my grandparent's back yard. "That one is loooong gone."

The past few nights have taken me back to my childhood. Listening to a game called on the radio highlights the beauty of language. If you get the opportunity, listen to the Los Angeles Dodgers' Vin Scully tell a story about his 65 years in the game. His cadence, his lack of verbosity, his diction  these are traits not found in the commentators of a televised broadcast.

Carlos Pena, the former Tigers player, is about to make his first appearance in the major leagues this year.

Drew Smyly has his full "arsenal" working tonight. He will strike out Pena looking on the outside corner with a perfectly placed curve ball, or a "yellowhammer."


I can't see any of this, but yet I can see it. That's the beauty of radio.


Now, it's not for everyone, but maybe it's for you. I encourage you, the reader and my friend, to listen to a radio broadcast this year. It doesn't have to be Jim Price or Dan Dickerson. Listen to Vin Scully. Listen to Mike Shannon. Tom Hamilton is another favorite of mine and you could sleep easier knowing you're still in the AL Central. It just might take you back to a simpler time before selfies, Kim Kardashian and Caillou.

My Internet will be back Thursday night and I will go back to watching the Tigers on TV just like before. Every once in a while though, I'm going to turn it off, flip on the radio broadcast, and be reminded of my summers in Michigan, Ernie Harwell, and the man from Saginaw who will be taking that foul ball home.
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