Tuesday night I came home from covering a Batavia School Board meeting with one mission in mind: to watch as many innings as possible of the in-progress Cubs-Rockies game. Yes, I know all the true Chicago-area sports fans were glued to either the Bulls’ or the Blackhawks’ playoff games last night. All I can say in my own defense is that I’m not really a pro sports fan—I’m just a congenital, incurable, third-generation Cubs fan. Someday I hope to have my own telethon.
But I digress. When I dashed to the TV and turned on WGN, I found to my dismay that the picture came in fine but the sound was completely absent. No matter. Using the true grit and resourcefulness that enables Cubs fans to endure October after October of watching other teams in the World Series, I left the TV on and turned up the kitchen radio so I could hear one broadcast while watching the other. And, just as Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin and Goodyear accidentally invented vulcanization, I stumbled upon a new realm of entertainment—the TV/radio disconnect.
For one thing, the radio announcers last night were five to 10 seconds ahead of the TV broadcast, which made me feel like a psychic as I watched and listened while crocheting yet another afghan (one child, five nieces and nephews, all but one born within four years of each other, five graduating from either high school or college in the last three years and all addicted to cocooning in warm, fuzzy blankets. ‘Nuff said). Although I wanted to scream, “Don’t swing!” every time I watched a Cubs batter square up at the plate while the radio announcers moaned that he’d just grounded out, I also got to gloat as the Rockies pitcher wound up on screen to throw what I already knew was a home run pitch. In your face, Huston Street!
The commercial breaks were even more entertaining, as the radio ad scripts made the TV commercials unintentionally hilarious. I grinned to hear a spokesman extol the nuances of Miller Lite beer while actors onscreen gulped down cans of Pepsi. I chuckled when the sounds of a rugged SUV crashing through underbrush overlaid images of a sleek sedan cruising a mountain road. And the video footage of a romantic singles’ resort combined with the screams of squabbling children in a fast food radio spot? Made me miss a stitch because I was laughing so hard.
Perhaps the funniest disconnects happened when the radio announcers described what was going on in the stands at the same time the cameras showed something entirely different. I saw the scoreboard flash the final score of the Bulls game even as the announcers promised an update after the next commercial. The radio voices cooed over a cute baby while the screen filled with a closeup shot of a couple holding a sign that read, “World’s Greatest Newlyweds.” The climax came when the announcers amped up the roar of the crowd after Alfonso Soriano’s ninth-inning home run as the camera turned to two scowling, silent girls huddled under a Betty Boop blanket. Maybe they were Rockies fans.
My TV is transmitting both audio and video signals this morning, so I don’t think I’ll be taking in dueling broadcasts soon, even after the fun I had with it Tuesday night. I’ll save that for six months from now, when the Cubs are winning their fourth World Series game, because this is the year they’re going to go all the way!
And if that’s not a disconnect, I don’t know what is.