The St. Louis Blues have to deal with isolation in their bubble. Meanwhile, their broadcasters are isolated in a completely different way.
They say everyone has their own issue to deal with. That is definitely true for the broadcasters of the St. Louis Blues.
The team is currently sealed in a quarantine bubble of sorts in Edmonton. The idea is to keep them separated from as many people as possible.
Unfortunately, some of those people include the team and national broadcasters. So, even though they are allowed to be part of society, the Blues broadcasters are forced to be in a different kind of isolation.
As is the case with most broadcasters in North America right now, the Blues are forced to have their announcers hundreds of miles away from the action. They are literally calling the games based off video feeds sent to monitors.
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If you want a better visual, check out the picture shown for the St. Louis Cardinals broadcast shown on STLToday.
The Blues television crew is using almost the same setup, if not the exact same. Both the Cardinals and Blues television broadcasts are actually being done at the studios for KETC Channel 9.
At first I wondered why they would not use the Fox Sports Live studio, but since the public is allowed in Ballpark Village to eat and drink, they might have wanted to keep away from crowds.
The radio crew is broadcasting from a studio set up at the Centene Ice Center. The studio was mainly set up to have radio shows broadcast from the Blues practice facility, but this has worked to their advantage. Chris Kerber and Joey Vitale at least get the feeling of being at an ice rink.
All four, Kerber, Vitale, John Kelly and Darren Pang are going through the oddity of having to call a game off a monitor. The strange thing, if you can believe it, is it’s not as hard as you might think.
I do sports broadcasting as well and the easiest way is to be there, live and in person. However, as I have found out, the reason this is better has little to do with the game itself.
It’s better because you get a feel for the atmosphere. You can look at something behind the play that you know the camera won’t see. You can look at the benches, coaches or fans and relay the emotion to the fans at home.
As far as the game itself goes, with today’s high resolution televisions, seeing the action is not as hard as it once was. The only difficulty there might be making out someone’s jersey number.
I remember calling a soccer game off a monitor. It was a college championship tournament game and fog had rolled in during the evening.
You would think it would be easier to see through the fog yourself as opposed to through a camera lens, but that was not the case.
Especially for everything on the far side of the field, I used the monitor to see what was going on. As long as your camera person keeps up with the action, of which NHL camera operators are really good, you don’t have a problem.
Kelly and Kerber will be able to see all they need. It is Pang and Vitale that might suffer a little more.
As far as describing why a play happened, they’ll be fine. They both played, so all they have to do is illuminate a feeling behind what we all saw.
It is those moments that Panger might see from between the benches that gave him a different angle that will be missing. Those moments where Vitale might see some jousting going on behind the play that you could watch for later in the game.
Those are the moments that will be lost during all of this. However, as long as the broadcasters don’t point it out, fans will never know.
The funny thing about sports broadcasting, that even broadcasters forget, is people don’t know what they don’t know. If you say something wrong, but don’t point it out then the vast majority of fans won’t pay attention. When you assume you’ve missed something and start apologizing for any difference than normal, that’s when it becomes more apparent.
I listened to the radio broadcast and television broadcast for the exhibition game against the Chicago Blackhawks. There were a few moments where I could notice a hitch in the flow of a call, but most people would not get that.
As the guys themselves said in Dan Caesar’s article, it is not ideal but you get it done for the fans. Trust me, with all the things that can go wrong with a broadcast, if having to call it off a monitor is all you deal with, you’re still ahead of the game.