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Hacking the Series’ Broadcast: How Can Fans Listen to Kruk and Kuip While Watching Fox?

| October 28, 2010
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Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow (AP)

I do not think I’m telling you anything you don’t know when I say that a lot of baseball fans, including those currently rooting for the Giants, have had it with Fox’s baseball announcers, Tim McCarver and Joe Buck. ShutUpTimMcCarver.com, featuring a section called Tim McCarver gems (hint: that’s a sarcastic heading), seems to capture the general sentiment of those who’d rather hear the game described by the electronically generated computer voice informing you which number to push to reach a customer service agent in the Philippines than by the former all-star catcher. (It’s even worse for Joe Buck. The exact phrase “Tim McCarver sucks” calls up just 4,360 Google search results while “Joe Buck sucks” returns 22,000.)

So what’s your average Kruk and Kuip-loving Giants’ fanatic who also thinks Vin Scully can’t hold a candle to ultra-sexy Dave Flemming to do?

Those of you who’ve tried to simply listen to the radio while watching TV have no doubt noticed that the TV lags a good pitch or two behind the radio (or is it vice-versa?) Sort of interesting, though no matter how hard you try to wish a line drive out of Pablo Sandoval on TV after you just heard him pop out on the radio, it doesn’t work.

The sports site Deadspin addresses the conundrum in this post called “Silencing Joe Buck And Tim McCarver: A Simple Tech Solution To Our Crappy World Series Announcers.” The post summarizes a somewhat intricate technical solution from Bote’s Radio Pages involving your PC or Mac , your radio, and a radio delay utility. If you’re like me, you’ll also need a mute button for your larynx to keep from showering epithets upon household members when you can’t get it to work.

Someone who works here at KQED, a much more brilliant person than I, actually tried it last night. Here’s what he wrote about the results. To me, who is still waiting for eight-track tapes to make a comeback, it sounds a little like the sounds humans make as heard by a dog. But for you, it might help:

Basically, you run either a radio or your iPhone/Android (with a paid MLB radio stream) into your computer, use software to delay the audio and then output it to speakers. PC users can use a free utility called RadioDelay ( http://www.daansystems.com/radiodelay/) that will you up to 30 seconds of delay.

But since I’m on a Mac, I had to go another route. I have a terrestrial radio, which I ran into my computer’s audio input. I then set the computer’s audio input signal to the input line (as opposed to built-in mic). Then I opened a new project in Garageband and set audio input to the computer input, turned on the monitor and record-enabled the track. I then added the UADelay effect.

But here’s the problem: AU Delay will give you a maximum of 2 seconds delay. You can apply four AU Delay effects to one track, plus one to the master, which gives you a total delay of 10 seconds. I tried it out in the morning, and it worked perfectly. But come game-time, after dragging my radio, laptop and audio cables over to a friend’s apartment, and hooking up the whole set-up, we discovered that the 10-second delay only got us about half-way there. It seems like the broadcast delay is about 20 to 30 seconds.

If I were on a PC, it would be no problem (a declaration I’ve never ever thought I would write) using RadioDelay. But on a Mac, I can either install some other third-party plugins and mess around with ProTools, etc. OR I can piggyback more laptops with Garageband until we get the right amount of delay. I imagine three will get the job done, but having four laptops (with a maximum possible delay of 40 seconds) will definitely do the trick.

Now I just need to convince three friends with Macbooks to come watch the game at my place…

I sent out a call for other solutions from the folks here, and here’s what I got back:

My chums on Athletics Nation (Editors Note: KQED requires us to treat our A’s-loving colleagues with respect) have been dealing with this problem for several years, because most of us prefer to have the radio audio and the TV picture, but they’re not in sync. Eventually someone found the solution, a device called DelayPlay. Unfortunately it costs $175 and you need to order it from Pennsylvania, so probably not going to work for the Series. But here’s the link to our 2007 discussion.
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Frankly, I love the delay between the radio and the TV broadcasts. It allows me time to prepare my dinner in the kitchen while listening to Kruk and Kuip on the radio. They can alert me to great developments in the game. I then have 15-20 seconds to walk over to my living room and SEE the action our local guys have just described.

I should mention that one of my favorite moments last night, among many, was when Joe Buck said something to the effect that “this score shows that we didn’t know what we were talking about when we predicted a pitcher’s duel.”

Refreshing.
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The radio broadcast on KNBR is about 9-10 seconds ahead of the TV broadcast. So you hear it, then see it (if you want). I tried the streamed KNBR broadcast last night and discovered that it was 40 seconds ahead of their own radio broadcast, or about 50 seconds ahead of TV. Useless. I timed it with a stopwatch during the pre-game stuff.

For those of us to whom a Buck/McCarver broadcast is simply an unconscionable travesty and a Giants game isn’t a Giants game without Kruk, Kuip and John Miller, this is both annoying and challenging. It is remarkable, however, how the brain adjusts. After just a couple of innings I was perfectly comfortable experiencing the game through the radio, which has always been by far the superior medium for tension, imagery, emotion and memory, while using the TV as a reference point as needed for close pitches and plays in the field.

So there you go. Anyone else with techniques, tricks, or simple meditations on never getting what you want when you want it despite the glory of this World Series run, let us know.

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  • C

    I’ve been doing this since the NLDS. Just listen to the MLB.com feed on your Iphone and hit PAUSE on your TV until you’re in synch. No McCarver…. Ahhhhh.

  • Combatoverride

    This works with an iPhone and you must be watching TV via DVR.

    1. Download the app MLB At Bat 2010 on to your iPhone.
    2. When the game starts, start the App and click on audio. (there is no Audio before the game)
    3. Select KNBR (or ESPN if you want to listen to Miller).
    4. Plug your iPhone into your stereo.

    For some reason, the streaming audio via this app is about about a minute behind the live radio and about 45 seconds behind live TV. Perhaps because of buffering for streaming. Whatever the case, now you have to only worry about pausing your TV (easy with a DVR) and not your radio.

    5. Turn on you TV/DVR. Pause TV until it falls as far behind as the App. running through your stereo.

    Downside: you can’t pause your radio and TV together to go to the bathroom or run a reply without having to re-sync the two again.

  • C

    Combato, pretty much what I said. Just a lot more verbose.

  • Rene Plumber

    I’ve long since learned NOT to do important games via TV. It’s too engrossing, too nerve-wracking, too much torture. I listen to the radio, with a TV on but no volume, and only look at the tube when something Giants-good happens. The delay actually makes this work out nicely. Plus I keep my hands busy with chores and odd jobs the whole time. Apartment gets vacuumed and kitty litter box cleaned, and my blood pressure stays in a much healthier range.

    By the way, Fox Sports and others (thankfully not Comcast or KNTV) have this infuriating habit of covering up the little panel showing crucial info (balls-strikes-outs and what inning it is) with the pitch speed. They do it after every single pitch, just at the instant my eye glances there. Drives me nuts. This and just how much better Kruk-Kuip-Flem-Miller are than Joe Buck and Tim McCarver make demoting TV’s role in my baseball-fan life an absolute no-brainer.