Conversational Broadcasting; What is WEEI Thinking?
By Bob Branco
June 18, 2019
I have been listening to the Boston Red Sox on the radio for over 50 years. For the most part, these announcers do a great job informing us of the action, allowing me to be completely focused. I love clean Red Sox play-by-play.
Prior to the 2019 Red Sox season, sports radio WEEI decided it was time for conversational broadcasting during the games. Specifically, the announcers would do more conversing than before. I have a problem with this. First of all, much of the conversation does not revolve around baseball. I remember listening to games this season where the radio guys were talking about their septic tanks, other sports, tropical fish, and their grocery lists. Sometimes the conversations carry on to the point where pitches are not called. I’ve even noticed that the announcers occasionally forget to tell you who’s at the plate. In fact, during two innings in one of the Red Sox/Rangers games last week, Will Flemming, Sean McDonough and Joe Castiglione were doing limericks.
Please rest assured that I am not criticizing the work of these announcers. After all, they know a lot more than I do. However, when I listen to a game, I want to know exactly what’s going on. If I can’t focus, I will change the station.
Defenders of this new conversational play-by-play want me to go easy on these announcers because it’s okay to be lighthearted. I agree. It’s perfectly okay to be lighthearted, funny and whitty when it’s appropriate to be. When I’m out with my friends, I am as lighthearted as possible. However, I won’t be lighthearted while I listen to my priest conduct his sermon. There is a time and a place for it. When I listen to a game, I want to hear what the pitch is and where the ball is going, and not, “There was an old man named Sean, who wakes up at the crack of dawn.” One evening, the radio broadcast got so carried away with jokes that I found myself listening to John Sterling and Susan Walden of Yankee fame, only to restore my sanity.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Joe Castiglione, Sean McDonough, and many others who sit in the radio booth. What’s happening this season is not their fault. WEEI wants it that way. However, WEEI needs to rethink their philosophy about conversational broadcasting. It may work for some people, for whatever reason, but I’m not there yet.