With the University of Utah football team on the road for its next game, radio coverage of the action is more important than usual. You probably haven't noticed, but KALL (AM-910) — voice of the Utes — is going the extra mile in providing fans with play-by-coverage this year.
Sure, you've got veteran Bill Marcroft, with help from Brad Stone, Kent Rupe and Frank Dolce, covering the gridiron action. However, you may not have realized that KALL is tinkering with a new innovation this season — parabolic microphones.
KALL has been fine-tuning these see-through dish devices, which are equipped with microphones to attempt to give listeners the most authentic sound of games possible.
According to Larry Crandall, KALL program director, these mikes aren't totally new technology, but they've mostly been used by television until recent years. The Denver Broncos starting using them a few years ago. KALL may be the only Utah station to have them now.
"It should make it more enjoyable for listeners," Crandall said. "It may add more warmth to the broadcast."
He believes that since sound is all radio has to work with, the technology is even more vital than with TV.
The idea behind the parabolic mikes on the sidelines is that they pick up the referee, whistles, the crowds and even the body-crunching action far better than just a mike in the press box.
I doubt players, coaches and photographers like having new things around they could trip over on the sidelines, but when KALL has the microphone system fine-tuned, it looks to be a real asset.
For example, when I listened to the Oregon vs. Utah game last week, I heard a definite difference in the mikes, though their use was intermittent. I don't know if the announcers controlled the microphones, but at times you could hear the roar of the crowd, and the referees, and at other times you couldn't.
Once KALL masters the devices, they should add an extra touch to play-by-play broadcasts.
Listen yourself on KALL during the Utah-Indiana game Saturday, Sept. 22, at noon, or the New Mexico game at Rice Stadium on the 29th (time TBA).
ALL NEWS, EVEN ON FM — With the terrorist actions Tuesday, all of the Clear Channel of Salt Lake radio stations (KALL, KWLW, KKAT, KODJ, KURR, KODJ and KISN) on that day were simulcasting the all-news format of sister station KNRS (AM-570).
This has never happened before in Utah radio, so many FM stations forgoing their music formats to give listeners what they undoubtedly wanted — easy access to news about the tragedy.
This unprecedented situation might have happened six decades ago too, if FM radio and better technology had been available at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Z-MORNING ZOO ALIVE AND WELL — Rumors persisted this week that the KZHT (FM-94.9) morning show may have been disbanded. However, two members of the trio — Danger Boy and Frankie C — were just on vacation, and Kelli was going solo in the meantime.
Tom Sly, Clear Channel general manager of the station, confirmed that no changes are planned with the morning show; it's just a vacation situation. But he said a mid-day change on KZHT will be coming soon.
RADIO HAPPENINGS — KUBL is the main radio presence at the Utah State Fair this week. You can't miss the big inflatable bull at the edge of the carnival area . . . KZHT was also the main sponsor of the Sept. 10 ice cream festival at the fair . . . KENZ ("The End") and the Jimmy Chunga show were repeating a big stunt this week by adding a "2" on the mountainside above the University of Utah to the existing "U" lettering, to highlight an upcoming appearance in Salt Lake City by the rock group U2. FM-107.5 did the same stunt a few years ago, and it is one of the best-ever stunts in local radio, even in repeat form.