Tonight…It’s Radio’s Turn To Shine


When the Nationals and Yankees begin the highly anticipated return to major league sports tonight the only true way to experience the sounds of the game will be through a radio. The awkwardness of seeing empty seats will matter little to the fans when John Sterling finally gets deliver his poetry following a Yankee home run that Yankee fans have come to love and Yankee haters love to mock.

Listening to baseball on WFAN will bring a sense of normalcy to a country that is anything but normal these days with the coronavirus numbers climbing again and many states moving more toward another lockdown.

Mark Chernoff is the Sports Format Captain for Entercom, Senior Vice President for Entercom New York and Brand Manager at WFAN in New York. We spoke to Chernoff about baseball’s return to The Fan.

Radio Ink: Radio has always been the medium that paints the perfect picture for the listener. With Baseball back and fans so hungry for sports, is this not the perfect opportunity for radio, for your station, to really shine?
Chernoff: Baseball has always been so well suited for radio, the “theatre of the mind.” With the pandemic and the lack of team sports until now, we truly believe that listeners are very excited that baseball is back, especially with our classic announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Aside from the play-by-play, the fact that we can talk about the games – who hit a home run, who made a key defensive play, how big a certain play was, and all the nuances of talking baseball – is very exciting.

Radio Ink: What can baseball fans/listeners expect to hear when the games start up again this week?
Chernoff: There are two aspects: the games themselves and all the baseball talk – who’s hot, who’s not, and all of the stats that people care about. It may be a shortened 60 game season, but the excitement level is extremely high. We’ve already had wonderful response to the three exhibition Yankees games broadcast on WFAN these past few days.

Mark Chernoff

Radio Ink: How different will the broadcasts be on your station no, compared to pre-COVID?
Chernoff: Other than crowd noise, the home game will sound the same. Our announcers are in the ballpark with the same view of the game they’ve always had. Since we’ve already done a few exhibition games, John and Suzyn are in mid-season form and providing all the normal analysis and play-by-play. The road games will pose more of a challenge as my announcers will be tuned in to three different screens to watch the games. With many views of the action, the first game or two may take a little getting used to but I expect that, after a few days, the views and stats they’ll see on screens will become easier to work with. Our announcers will be doing these “road” games from Yankee Stadium and I believe that since they’ll be in a ballpark – even if empty – it will still add to the excitement.

Radio Ink: Do you have any special production elements planned for the games?
Chernoff: We have some special sound effects we may or may not use, but since crowd noise has been piped in we may not need to do anything over the top.

John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman

Radio Ink: Are the broadcast teams in the home stadium (if not, where are they) and will they be traveling?
Chernoff: There will be no travel except for three games at Citi Field against the Mets since it’s just as local as Yankee Stadium. Otherwise, all home and road games will be broadcast from Yankee Stadium.

Radio Ink: How will you keep the broadcast teams safe?
Chernoff: We’ve worked with the Yankees to have the booths cleaned before and after every game. We have hand sanitizer, masks and gloves and, of course, social separation.  John will be in one booth and Suzyn in an adjacent booth, so they will be very much socially separated.

Tomorrow we’ll hear from iHeartMedia’s SVP of Sports Programming Don Martin.
Here’s part one of our special Baseball Report.


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