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Sounders Radio Broadcast is Broken

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Let's start off with the big ticket item

Not Arlo White's fault!

And, to the long time readers, I'll eat some crow now. I was someone who said that simulcast can work, and while that is true for basketball and baseball, it clearly doesn't work for soccer.

This weekend I went camping-lite (in a yurt), but still managed to listen to the game, albeit on the radio. Let's ignore the technical problems, which were not under control of the team, nor their broadcast partners. Let us also ignore that one of the pre-game experts has had so many phone calls during broadcasts that the host mocked him for it.

These are issues that are either very easy to fix, or impossible to fix.

I'm going to focus on the actual play-by-play of Arlo White.

"Dave, didn't you just say that it isn't Arlo's fault? And that the broadcast is broken? and now you are going to focus on Arlo White?"

Yes. Yes. No. I'm going to focus on the play-by-play of Arlo White as it comes across to a radio-only audience but during a simulcast. I did not have the opportunity to see the action, I could only count on the images as painted by the esteemed host.

The problem was that he is also calling for TV.

For a vast majority of the game I did not know which team was in attack, what formation or tactics were being used. It was quite frustrating for me.

Now, I've listened to a lot of radio play-by-play in my life. I was formerly a producer of radio play-by-play on a simulcast. Arlo has to balance the wordplay required of radio with the reluctance to speak that is at the pinnacle of TV play-by-play.

While he's amazing, those two things are hard to reconcile for a sport of this pace. Basketball is fast, so easier. Baseball is sporadic, so doable as well. While soccer has a slow pace similar to baseball in ways, it also does not have the pauses that baseball has.

Seattle Sounders FC would have a much stronger, and more salable to advertising buyers, product if they had an independent radio play-by-play and color commentating team. It would cost more money, but quick product mentions could be dropped into the run-of-play (seriously, it isn't tough to do, I helped drop quotes from coaches into basketball) but it would also help those who love the game but can't be in front of a TV follow the sport.

Also, radio networks have the potential to reach a larger audience (particularly on AM), which would continue to expand the fan-base for the team.

In short, this off-season the Sounders need to find an up-and-coming radio play-by-play voice and a color man to improve their overall product and make 2011 better than these first two seasons. Arlo on TV is extraordinary, but the radio only product isn't there yet. A simple, but potentially costly change is needed.