Monday, October 02, 2006

Baseball radio of the future

I'm a radio guy, and I follow the Pirates much more through the radio than through the TV. So I was a bit sad to hear about no more KDKA. The Pirates will lose some of their reach with the switch to Clear Channel stations -- maybe -- not sure -- But with satellite and internet radio, it does not matter so much.

It's fun to listen to the games from both sides of the press box. The other team's announcers speak more openly and unguardedly about the performance of our players. You need the satellite service or MLB audio to do this, of course. And these things should be easier or more ubiquitous over the next few years. Already I possess the intense technical ability required to stream the living room computer's MLB audio through my state-of-the-art home theater system. Soon enough everyone will be in on the secret.

When MLB and the NFL get on the same satellite radio service, I'm there. And not a minute sooner. There's no way I'll pay for two services and have two clock radios or whatever pieces of crap it is you buy to receive the signal.

In the meantime, MLB audio is OK but the insulting low quality (12 kbps) of the audio feeds infuriates me often. It can be hard to tell if you are listening to Lanny or Greg. The audio quality is that bad, and there's no excuse for it.

They are really shooting themselves in the foot with this shit-for-quality audio service they are selling. Click through iTunes and you see that even the blues stations that crank out tunes with grandpa on the washboard and grandma on the tin can, even those stations offer 32 kbps. No talk stations go lower than 16 kbps, and they don't have the bat cracking and the mitt pounding and the beer man yelling as background. You don't have to be a blind man to observe that one of the great things about the game is the panorama of sound. MLB could do a much better job of miking the game and broadcasting it themselves. I'd pay a lot more for a service that provided something like "high-definition" sound. Maybe we all would.

The sound might be that good on the TV broadcasts, but I'm a working man, and I do not have time to sit on my ass and watch many games. If I'm not looking at the TV, I'd rather have it on the radio since, when they are doing their job, they explain what you are not seeing while you listen and do whatever it is you need to be doing.

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