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A bitter end to baseball season

Sep 1, 2017 By Robert H. Peck, Staff Writer

As we enter September, the Major League Baseball regular season nears its close.

It's bittersweet.

Mostly bitter, though, because I have to find something else to do when I'm working or walking or driving in the car or on a run or doing any of the many things I've learned to love doing mostly because I get to listen to the game while I do them.

Our biggest loss here in the west will be the end of regular evening broadcasts by the radio team at KOA 850 News Radio in Denver.

Jack and Jerry call every game, every inning, every at bat. It's a grueling schedule that rivals that of the players themselves, and it's made those two among the most important figures in my young life.

But more than them, KOA stands alone as a baseball broadcast team. It's one thing to have good call on the air, which Jack and Jerry provide. But it's another entirely to have the full package of ads, intros, research, musical interludes, stories and timing all come together in a way that the listener enjoys completely.

I listen to games from around the country online, and in my experience no station, not even the big ones for the Dodgers or the Red Sox, can match our Rockies outfit there in Denver.

Let's consider advertising. Many of us don't view ads as one of the make-or-break media experiences of our lives, but the number of people who tune in to the Super Bowl just to watch commercials should tell us that a quality advertisement really can improve the product. KOA knows this, and they're clever about it.

The bottom of the fifth inning? Why, that's sponsored by Applejack Wine and Spirits, because if you're at the bottom of your fifth, you can call them.

The 14th pitch of the game? Zero area Carpet Cleaning has been in business for 14 years in Denver. Sponsored.

Rockies pitcher gets a strikeout? Strike gold with Neumont Gold Mining, which donates money to charity every time it happens.

Creativity brims from these ads, and it shows, especially in comparison to the stock sound effect ball and bat noises overlaid on generic radio spots that populate the airwaves on most other stations.

It's not universal, but it's widely true that baseball advertisers are terrible and should all look to KOA to improve.

What about the pre- and post-broadcast game coverage? 850 AM has that covered too, right down to the final minutes before game time, when play-by-play man Jack Corrigan delivers an editorial on the game that he prepares specially for each broadcast. He researches and writes it anew every time. There is nothing like it on any other station I've heard, and it complements the already thorough pre-game coverage KOA airs.

After the game, stick around: They'll recap the whole thing, staying in the booth late to do it. And they'll pick out moments to air again, editing an entire mini rebroadcast together in the minute or two after play ends. Jack and Jerry always make sure to thank their editors and board runners for it, because that's another thing: They all get along so well - or at least pretend at it quite convincingly for all of us if they don't.

There's a reason it's KOA, and not the TV call, that is being used to dub over highlights during this historic Rockies season. When September ends, it's not really baseball I'm losing. It's this broadcast that I'll miss. That, to me, is the sign of a job well done.

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Editor's note: Riverton native Robert H. Peck is a graduate student in the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa.

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2017-09-24