Delay gives some pause
Reds try to sync WLW, TV broadcasts; some fans not with program
By John Kiesewetter • firstname.lastname@example.org • July 6, 2008
Reds officials confirmed last week that the club is intentionally delaying the radio broadcast this season in order to synchronize announcers' radio descriptions with the Fox Sports Net Ohio telecasts on cable or satellite.
In previous seasons, Reds Radio broadcasts have been several seconds ahead of the TV picture.
The move is geared toward Reds fans who like to watch games on TV, but listen to radio announcers Marty and Thom Brennaman and Jeff Brantley.
So far, the experiment is getting mixed reviews.
Radio sponsors are pleased with the effort, said Bill Reinberger, Reds vice president for corporate sales. But there are still times when the radio call is not synchronized with the action on television.
And fans who bring radios to Great American Ball Park may experience up to a nine-second delay between what they see and hear.
"It's not as an enjoyable an experience, if they tell you on radio about the action after it happens. What's the use of bringing a radio to the game?" says Mary Lynn Knochelman, 47, from Delhi Township.
The delay has been obvious at the ball park during this homestand. On Tuesday night, as Adam Dunn coasted into second base with a double, radio announcer Thom Brennaman was just announcing that Dunn had hit the ball.
In another instance, catcher David Ross was already in the dugout by the time announcer Jeff Brantley called a third strike on the radio.
Marty Brennaman said he suggested the delay several years ago to make Reds Radio more appealing to the vast TV audience. He said Reds officials decided to implement the delay this season, after the club took over Reds Radio network advertising and marketing in its new five-year deal with flagship WLW-AM (700).
"The ball club realizes the importance of doing this," he said.
And he knows that the 20,000 fans at the ball park won't hear a timely description of the action.
"This is a small trade-off compared to all the people watching on TV in what we used to call 'Reds Country.' It's the price you have to make to make this work," Marty Brennaman said.
He added: "Not one single fan has said anything to me."
Reds telecasts reach an average of 165,000 TV homes in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee, according to FSN Ohio.
But syncing the audio to TV can be tricky. It takes five to six seconds for the TV signal to be sent up to a satellite, beamed back down to a cable operator, and delivered by wire to homes, says FSN Ohio.
The radio was several seconds behind the Reds-Indians telecasts on FSN Ohio on Time Warner cable last weekend. The pitcher often had the ball back from the catcher when the radio announcer called a ball or strike.
Monty Farmer, 52, of Clermont County's Union Township - who prefers the Brennamans over Reds TV announcer George Grande - said when they happen, radio delays are "annoying, because you already know what has happened."
Knochelman said Reds Radio was in sync with FSN Ohio on her Dish Network last week.
Reinberger called the audio delay "an experiment," and invited fans to e-mail comments to him at email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We are monitoring the reaction," he says. "If we got overwhelming feedback, or a bunch of comments, we might talk about switching it back. But we haven't."