BBC Radio 4’s Archive on 4 – The Sound of Sport

In Audio by Fredy Ore

When we think of the sound of sport on TV or radio, it’s generally commentary.

But what’s around the commentary? Broadcast sport would be nothing
without the crowds, the kicks, the thwacks and the grunts. This
programme is about those sounds and why they matter.

During the World Cup of 2010, the Vuvuzelas made many people realise that the sound
of a sports event, something they took for granted, does matter.

Dennis Baxter’s job is to think about the sound of sport, and he is our guide.
For nearly 20 years he’s worked on the Olympics, defining how the
broadcast will sound, always trying to increase drama and excitement.
For him, closer is generally better. If he can put a microphone on an
athlete, he will.

At the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, the TV coverage is enhanced by microphones on the cox in each boat. Whilst Wimbledon has a special sonic drama all of its own, as we learn from Bill Whiston who mixed the Bafta-nominated sound of the 2008 finals.

When good sound isn’t available, it’s not uncommon for a prerecorded sound
to be added to cover the shot. Is this cheating or merely giving us what
we expect?

The experience of “live” events can be highly produced, very different from the experience of being there. Is this enhanced sound so very different from that of a film or a video game? We meet a Hollywood sound effects specialist and a video game sound designer to find out what they do to create a sense of authenticity and
excitement. Are they raising our expectations of how “real” sport should

As we approach the 2012 Olympics, this programme will make you think more about what you hear when you watch sport.

Producer: Peregrine Andrews
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 8:00PM Sat, 30 Apr 2011
  • Available until 9:02PM Sat, 7 May 2011
  • First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 8:00PM Sat, 30 Apr 2011
  • Category Factual
  • Duration 60 minutes