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Rigors of the radio booth (if you have one)

POSTED July 27, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


                             Rigors of the radio booth (if you have one)

TORRINGTON – Well, I think we looked good with our green and blue polo shirts, the Litchfieldcountysports.com logo emblazoned on the front. Of course the only way anybody would note that was if there was somebody cleaning off the roof of a nearby factory or a spy plane with all that high-powered video technology in place flew overhead.

The last couple of seasons Tim Gaffney and I have been offered and accepted the opportunity to broadcast a couple of Torrington Titan Futures Baseball League games at Fuessenich Park.

We accept because, well, we figure it is fun. A chance to scratch our Chris Berman and Bob Costas fantasies. And we have nothing else to do. Although this time around it was a Saturday night which did not sit well with my wife who was all lathered up  for some kind of fancy dinner out at Appleby’s or Frankie’s takeout or something like that.

Gaffney was in the clear because he has an anniversary coming up Aug. 5 and is taking his wife away for a couple of days to Beacon Falls or some exotic place like that. There were no plates flying around the Gaffney abode.

Here’s the deal though. We’re writers. People are used to hearing our pens or computers not our voices. We do our Litchfield County sports radio show on Monday nights and Sundays once a month so were not big-time rookies, but broadcasting baseball games is barely scraped territory.

The first concern has nothing to do with the broadcast and everything to do with Fuessenich. The press box there is not for the press. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs aren’t making it in here even with their well-documented lack of inches. Maybe three dwarfs. The other four will have to sleep outside, no room. What you get here is a P.A. announcer and a couple of statisticians.

That pushes the radio guys upstairs via a ladder. Note: if you are several pieces of cheesecake over the weight limit, you aren’t making it up the ladder or bring some virgin olive oil with you so you can slide through the opening.

Once on top, you are about 40 feet above the field in a small square about half of the size of a boxing ring. Great vistas, but if it is windy bring an anchor or you are road kill. If it rains, be prepared to dive down the hole. And if you are afraid of heights, this isn’t the gig for you.

As for the actual broadcasting of the game, well, I have learned a couple of things in the last two seasons. Rules if you will.

No. 1 – Do not kick any of the wires. Now I wear a size 10 shoe but I nudged a few of the wires and figure I cut us off three or four times which does not exactly make for a great listening experience. Now bat…. From …… college …. Johnson. You get the picture. Kind of a Morse code with missing words.

No. 2. – Let the umpire make the call. A couple of times I jumped the gun on balls and strikes and was a bit red-faced although nobody could tell with us that high in the stratosphere. Being radio I could have let the mistake stand but in the name of journalistic integrity I appropriately fessed up. Well that and I think Gaffney corrected me.

No. 3 – Bring a clipboard for your papers and you should have papers, like rosters, stats, etc. They will be flying around like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz if you’re not careful. The price of the altitudinal open air concept.

No. 4 – Do your homework. Know the teams, the standings, the previous night’s actions. You need to sound professional not like some wannabe still working on your GED.

No. 5 – Pack a lunch. Three or so hours is a long time and you will need sustenance. Gaffney did arrange for some dogs for both of us and something to drink and they arrived in the fourth inning or so. Here’s the problem.  The dogs were dogs. Hard and cold like a liner up the middle on an early April day. The buns would have raised contusions if I dropped one and it hit a fan in the melon. Maybe it was just an off night, but we went out eat after the game.

No. 6 – Don’t dress up but don’t look somebody who just got rolled in an alley and didn’t go home to change. Very few are going to see what you are wearing. Comfortable and stylish is what you are aiming for like a Tommy Bahama shirt and trendy pair of sneakers. That’ll do. T-shirts and pants that only go halfway up your backside are out.

No. 7 – If you are going to hack, take your headset off. The listening public doesn’t need an up close audio of your flem intake or output.

No. 8 – Know when you are on the air and when you are off. You don’t want the world to know what you think of your boss, how bad the next hitter is or the fact that you had diarrhea the last two days. The public doesn’t need to know.

No. 9 -   Leave your cell phone home. You need to pay attention to the game not reading about Jenny going to the grocery store; Al telling you how he is loving the beach or Anna telling you that a big storm is coming. Honest to god scientists have proven that it is not life-threatening if you don’t use your phone for an hour or two. Plus you need to know what the score is and who is hitting.

No. 10. – Make sure you have somebody packing the stuff up for you (we did) so you can get to your local pub or eatery or both as the case may be. Gaffney stuffed down a little French dip and I indulged in a little fish and chips with libation quickly putting the dogs from hours before out of mind.

No. 11. – Having some background information is a good thing when you have three or so hours of radio to fill up. The game can’t do it all. Knowing that Biff Brewster was a three-sport athlete in high school or that Slugger Sowinski’s dad once polished off 15 sausages in a sausage-eating marathon is good stuff. You can never have enough pertinent information.

Gaffney and I had a good night. We did our homework and it helps to have a guy that knows something about the technology side of it and has a good radio voice. That would be Gaffney in case you were wondering.

You may hear us again. What do you mean you didn’t hear us the first time? Start listening. I’m already looking some gold nuggets for background information. Did you know that Gary `The Guru’ Alphonso once got lost in a high school cross country race and borrowed a bike at somebody’s house to ride across the finish line.?

Hey that’s prime material. See you on the air.

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