Apr 15, 2020; Anaheim, California, USA; General overall view of the Los Angeles Angels logo at Angel Stadium of Anaheim amid the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY NETWORK

During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, teams were forced to keep their broadcasters at home and call games from monitors. Those restrictions began to loosen in 2021, and many teams were back to normal in 2022.

However, two teams across MLB are still not sending their radio broadcasters on the road. The Toronto Blue Jays completely cut their radio broadcast in 2021 and replaced it with a TV simulcast, only to change course later that season. In 2022, radio broadcaster Ben Wagner only traveled in the second half of the season, and will go back to calling road games from a studio in 2023.

The other MLB team that won’t send its radio broadcasters on the road this season is the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels, along with the Blue Jays, Dodgers and Orioles, didn’t send their radio teams on the road last season, with “broadcaster preference” being cited for the Angels’ and Dodgers’ decisions.

This year, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In March, Angels owner Arte Moreno cited “the economics” as a reason for not sending the radio broadcasters on the road. The team declined further comment to The Athletic, as did broadcasters Terry Smith and Mark Langston and engineer Jorge Sevilla.

An expert broke down expenses of a year on the road for radio broadcasters, determining the value at less than a third of the annual league minimum player salary.

The Athletic spoke to an industry expert who was tasked with running the operations and financial budget for a different major-league radio team. This person spoke on condition of anonymity out of concern of reprisal from their team.

This expert said they budgeted between $185,000 to $200,000 per season for all expenses related to radio broadcasters’ travel. The cost typically accounts for $350 per person per night in a hotel room, along with a $70 to $100 per diem that covers daily food or miscellaneous expenses. Per diems are typically given to all members of a traveling party. Some of the costs can be offset if the engineering duties are outsourced to a local freelancer.

Calling games remotely can work out fine. At its best, it can be impossible to tell a remote broadcast from an in-person broadcast. But at its worst, a remote broadcast is a disaster. The Angels saw that first-hand last year with remote TV broadcasts early in the season. On the radio, fans aren’t seeing the action as broadcasters are calling it, so it’s probably easier for them to cover up a mistake. But radio broadcasters also have to paint a more vivid picture for fans, given that they’re listening and not watching, and it’s a lot harder to do that while staring at a monitor.

[The Athletic]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.