Does A Sports Radio Voice Matter?

Been thinking about this quite a bit lately as I have been playing around with an awesome app on my ipad that lets me listen to radio stations around North America; do you care more about the voice or the substance when it comes to sports radio or play by play?

Since I’ve been writing this blog I’ve noticed a ton of the comments that you are making have something to do with a particular host or guests voice. I am curious whether the voice becomes less “annoying” when the content is actually good. Would you be willing to suffer through someone with a brutal radio voice if they were smart, intelligent and otherwise a great interview or host?

Personally, I found that there are certain folks in this market who have great voices but who are totally unlistenable. On the flip side there are guys who honestly, I can’t listen to simply because I find their voice so distracting I have to flip the minute I hear them.

If you had to chose, bad voice great content or great voice lousy content? How much does the voice effect your view of the content? To me, on radio it’s harder to disguise a brutal voice. Having said that there are a few people on the radio in Toronto who have fingernails on the blackboard annoying voices.

So, what say you?


About the Author
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steve (in Hamilton)
Steve (in Hamilton)
June 17, 2011 12:16 am

Personally, I don’t like overly-slick radio voices. I rather like the stutter-speak of Brunt, Grange and some of the others, especially when I think they are thoughtful people.

And what I really don’t like are the loud, abrasive voices.

As always, this is just my opinion.

June 17, 2011 1:54 am

I’ll take the content over the voice.

I think Bill Hayes and Rob Faulds are good examples of guys with amazing radio voices that are really tough to listen to (no offense to them – but I find them both really bland).

As Steve said, I can put up with guys like Blair, Brunt and Grange not having a great delivery because I find what they say to be compelling.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
June 17, 2011 4:24 am

Very interesting topic TSM. The medium of radio is so voice driven that I can’t get past a voice that annoys me, and regardless of the content, will just tune out. I am with Steve, that the loud, abrasive voices, like Krystal for example, are total turn offs, and Krystal hits the daily double with zero substance as well. Really shocking how he was hired in the first place, never mind how he has retained his position, even in a worse spot.

This is part of the reason why I love Dan Patrick so much since I started listening to him. He has an amazing voice, love his dry humour, the comedy of his team, and his content, while not locally based, still holds enough appeal for me to tune in. Factor in that he is up against Krystal, and there has never been an easier listening decision for me.

Bobcat also has a very underated radio voice, as he is a master at projection and knowing how to use his voice to make a case, even when we know it is all for show in order to elicit some great debate from his panel.

Growing up in Monteal I was blessed with Dave Van Horne, Dick Irvin, Danny Gallivan, Ted Blackman, and dare I say it Ted Tevan, who had the best radio voice I have ever heard, even though he was somewhat of a shock jock, but one that I felt compelled to listen to, but in short doses.

Part of the reason why John Shannon never gets the time of day from me is his voice, even though he hurts his case being a FOB and someone limited in his knowledge to hockey production, and anything outside of that is out of his comfort zone.

In today’s market there are so many personalities working with the competition that we are getting many variations of the voice/content, and it is a bit of a minefield navigating your way through it. The ones who will consistently get the best ratings are the ones who of course have both elements working in their favour.

Dave from the suburbs
Dave from the suburbs
June 17, 2011 6:37 am

I guess I can’t seperate the two. A not so good voice with great content will always win me over again’t a classic voice with bad content. The current team of Jerry and Alan Ashby is such a knockout. Ashby is a real gem and a great addition to the legendary Mr Howarth. Perfect voices, perfect content.

And then we have the bad voice/bad content of Mr Magoo. Can’t stand to hear him for more than a second.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
June 17, 2011 8:14 am

stutters, pregnant pauses, and rambling questions matter more to me than a bad voice.

i can deal with pauses where a person is trying to articulate a nuanced point, or is looking for the right word for a given context. there is a payoff in the end. i can’t deal with meandering thoughts that could easily be put directly and plainly.

my favourite example from this past week: a certain host asked a certain baseball person a 45 second version of “do you agree with Kyle Drabek’s demotion?”

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
June 17, 2011 8:51 am

I think the two have to go hand in hand. I appreciate the question put forth TSM, but reality is asking if a sports radio broadcaster needs a good voice to succesful is similar to asking if a pitcher with a great fastball also needs to have control.

Unfortunately we have our share of pitchers here on the radio some are throwing high hard ones making Bob Uecker’s “just a little outside” so repetitive and then we have others with great control but they are pitching slo-pitch.

We are a world class market deserving of great talent. I have gone on in the past, but I can’t listen to so many of the people we have on our channels.

I am really enjoying Dan Patrick’s show, great voice, great personality and a well produced show. I think part of the problem with Cybulski’s show is that lack of production expertise. It seems they are just trying to emulate PTS. Especially the casual banter segments. Part of what makes PTS banter successful (there are times we all hear to much, but we still listen) is that we know the personalities of Bobcat, Brunt, Grange, Cox so well, that the banter has no forced feel to it. Listening to the TSN personalities, i just find their casual talk to be forced and contrived.

June 17, 2011 9:01 am

I think we need to differeniate between not being slick on the radio (Brunt, Grange) and a person with an annoying voice (personally Gareth Wheeler). I believe TSM was asking between an annoying voice and good content.

I can listen longer to a person that has a good voice, but if there isn’t good content I will tune out eventually. If I find the persons voice annoying, I don’t think I will give them the chance to find out if there is good content.

June 17, 2011 9:04 am

Its nice to have both – a great voice and a solid understanding of what they’re speaking about. The best example of that is Dan Shulman. The guy knows tons on hoops and baseball and a great voice to boot. Greg Brady is another example of voice, knowledge of sports and pop culture and comedy which is what you want in a radio host.

The complete opposite is Garreth Wheeler. Terrible voice and never has anything interesting to say. Grange is difficult to listen to simply because it takes him 2 minutes to ask a question that could be asked in 20 seconds.

Bryan Hayes has the voice, the knowledge but must improve on his grammar to be great. He has to stop using “anyways” and “it is what it is”.

June 17, 2011 10:05 am

Dean Brown out of Ottawa used to have a nationsl show in the late 90s “sportsCall” I want to say. He had a good personality, slightly goofy, but definately charming and has the best pipes in the business. Would love to see him get a hockeycentral like clone show.

June 17, 2011 10:09 am

Not an easy answer. I don’t want a great voice and no content but I find a poor radio voice more distracting.

Ones I do not like:

Michael ‘Ray Romano’ Grange
Jeff ‘Ya Know’ Blair
St-t-t-well-well-err-you-even Brunt
Garth ‘Wayne’s World’ Wheeler

June 17, 2011 11:17 am

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Steve Kouleas here. It is apparent he has a wealth of hockey kowledge and loves the game, but I find his voice so lacking in command that I turn away. Which is a shame, seeing as that lunch hour spot has alot of top-notch talent on it that I would like to listen to.

June 17, 2011 2:00 pm

Intersting question, in a way I agree with Steve who said the stereotypical “good radio voice” with the deep & montone voice is something that doesn’t appeal to me.

My initial reaction to this question was “It’s all about content, voice doesn’t matter” . But then thinking back I have been critical of Krystal sounding like he just smoked a carton of cigs before getting on the air and M Richards slow monotone voice.

So the more I think of it, I wonder if look past the faults of somebody voice/delivery if the content is good. If you don’t like them, then every fault magnifies itself. It’s like our personal lives, you go out to dinner with somebody you really like, you don’t notice how they sip their drink or clink their silverwear during dinner. But if froced to be in that situation with somebody you don’t nessesary like, those same things are noticable and annoying lol.

So I guess my initial reaction is still my answer. If you respect or like the content, the faults for me is not that noticable or as a listener I choose to look past it. If the content is just not there, the voice is meaningless.

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
June 17, 2011 2:17 pm

Steve Kouleas voice is beyond chalkboard nails. BUT, he is in same time slot as Darren “everybody here hates me” Millard and the bumbling overscreaming idiots Kypreos and Richie Rich. The guest on Kouleas show are pretty good. I have tried a filtering effect with Steve, whenever he talks I crank my truck window down and let the wind do magic to his vocal chords. Then when he stops talking I roll up window and listen to the guests.

June 17, 2011 3:25 pm

“Oddly enough, I have no problem with Krystal’s voice. I would listen to him if he were on a non sports format.”

I listened to Krystal’s show in Halifax a bit last summer when I was out there. It was really good. Talked a lot about interesting local stuff (city building etc). Talked about science news (which, to the best of my knowledge nobody is really doing in talk radio). He didn’t seem nearly as aggressive or offensive, and he seemed MUCH more confident. I’m sure that’s because he was in his comfort zone.

Does Rogers have a talk station they could shuttle him off to? I guess 680 doesn’t count. Anyway, I would listen too.

June 17, 2011 6:46 pm

Once you’ve heard Wheeler, every kind of voice out there is tolerable.

June 17, 2011 7:02 pm

For what my opinion may be worth:

Rob Faulds – Great pipes but as dull as dishwater.

Bill Hayes – See above but with such a tremendously annoying stutter. Took so long to get a thought articulated that it made me change the station. He is the only guy to make me do that.

Mike Hogan – Not a great voice and too many, “Thank you for this, sir.”(s) for me. Horrible laugh, too.

Joe Bowen – Horrible laugh (he thinks he is funnier than he is) and talks way too much while the play is going on.

However, I do love Brunt, Grange and Cox. Not pros but do a good job, regardless. Blair is good but he does tend to ramble on when asking a question. I would hope his bosses have pointed that out.

June 18, 2011 1:38 am

Content is king. (Some playful banter is good too.)

I, unlike probably most of you here I think, watch PTS and don’t listen to it or the radio in general. I think listening on the radio really makes you focus on the delivery versus watching and listening. None of the good regulars of PTS bother me. Even Shannon doesn’t bother me other than his content is weak.

The only voice that I occasionally hear that I really don’t like is Jack Armstrong. I don’t like basketball so I almost always fast forward through any basketball segments. However about 60-75% of the time I’ll watch Colangelo segments with McCown.

June 18, 2011 7:41 am

“stutters, pregnant pauses, and rambling questions matter more to me than a bad voice” – Mike (in Boston). Could not agree more and believe I heard that question, I had time to mow the 2 acre lot before the guest was able to answer …

As with others here, I think this is a great question – for me it is about entertainment, information, intelligent debate and a sense of fun when I tune in. McCown, Brunt, Arthur, Grange, Patrick are all examples of this for me.

So, I suppose that voice/delivery is the first point, if as you say it is “the nails on the blackboard voice” or as Mike pointed the delivery which obfuscates the content then I tune out. However if I get past that initial perception it is content that keeps me. Brady is just too whiny for me to get past and Blair goes on forever with questions. Both have good content but I just cannot get past the delivery.

I also think the baseball guys are doing a great job with the exception of Wilner. I must admit that I beginning to cringe when I hear him and am thinking it is the arrogant delivery of his content, less the voice.

As an aside I really like the job Pat Tabler is doing on TV.

Sam in Oshawa
June 18, 2011 8:13 am

mike toth,what ashame good voice and delivery but could not control the dreaded demon of radio think a little before you speak.constant shout out to his kids qas very annoying,knowledge and wit were great wonder if he will ever get another gig, is he still in town?

Sam in Oshawa
June 18, 2011 8:15 am

please forgive spelling and punctuation,very busy week.

June 18, 2011 11:51 am

Yes PTS on TV. My commute is a short walk. Plus PVRing the show means I can fast forward through segments I’m not interested in and sometimes the reactions are fun to watch.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x