Radio DazedThe Way I See It...
By Andrew Mason
August 11, 1997
Editor's Note: The following is a text of a letter sent by Joe Kauffman and I to the offices of the Tampa Bay Storm, WDAE-AM 1250 and the Arena Football League.
August 11, 1997
We are writing in regards to the quality---or lack thereof---inherent in Sunday night's Storm-Kats radio broadcast on WDAE-AM 1250.
This is the second consecutive week we have been forced to rely on Jack Harris for the description of plays in a Storm game. This is the second consecutive week we have wondered what in the world was actually occurring on the field of play. On several plays during the game, Harris failed to identify the passer or the receiver. On other occasions, he failed to inform listeners where the ball was being snapped from, merely saying "first and ten" without a ball location. How are fans supposed to be able to understand the action if they are not aware of where the ball is? A quality radio announcer is supposed to paint a lucid picture of the game action for fans. Harris' painting would have been only half-finished, and would have been abstract and vague..
Then came the repeated butchering of names. Nashville quarterback Andy Kelly---a player Harris should have been aware of, given the fact he called the Storm-Kats game in May---somehow became known as "Andy Fleming" on three occasions. Kats receiver/defensive back Joe Campbell became known as "Joe Camel" and "Joe Kelly." At two points in the game, Kelly completed passes to himself---at least, that's according to the version of the game provided by Harris. Worst of all, Storm coach Tim Marcum was called "Bill Marcum."
Then came the circumstances surrounding the last minute of the game. Nashville scored with 37 seconds left (at least, that's what we were told by Harris) to pull within 45-42. The Storm then recovered an onside kick. The Storm ran the ball on first down and were stopped for no gain, stopping the clock. At this point, the men in the booth lost control of themselves, and, in doing so, showed their utter paucity of knowledge.
"I'd grab it and fall on it," Harris said, not realizing that such a move would be the last thing a team would do in Arena Football. A few seconds later, his voice changed. "What the hell is going on?" Harris asked as his voice tone turned from mellifluous to shrill. "The game should be over!" chirped in an equally whiny Rock Riley. The bottom line is that the game should not have been over. If Harris and Riley were cognizant of the rules of Arena Football, they would have realized that in the last minute of play, the clock always stops when yardage is not gained. This rule has been in place for the seven-season history of the Storm, and has certainly been there since these two announcers started calling Storm games in May.
At this point, the broadcast turned from comical but slightly humorous in its ineptitude to flat-out unprofessional. Butchering names is one thing; no announcer is perfect and has a slip up from time to time (although Harris' broadcast was more fraught with mistakes than any we have ever heard). But when the radio voice of an Arena Football League team does not know the rules of the game, then a change is necessary. The broadcast is making both the Storm and WDAE look like minor league outfits when we know that both are striving to be as professional as is humanly possible.
Last year, on WZTM-AM 820, the Storm had a professional, knowledgeable play-by-play man in Matt Birmingham. This year, the Storm has broadcasters whose knowledge of Arena Football is woefully inadequate for the job they are being asked to perform. Harris comes across as a nice man in person. However, being nice has nothing to do with the quality of the broadcast. Storm fans deserve better. Arena Football deserves better. Both of those groups deserve radio broadcasters who know the game.
And that's the way we heard it.
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