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3 Reasons to Experience English Football On Radio Rather Than TV


Last Thursday, I was away from the television set so I decided to follow the Blackburn Rovers against Aston Villa Carling Cup tie via the radio for a change.

Listening to the Tunin.FM radio app on my iPhone, I was immediately captivated by the commentary for a few different reasons.

First, radio commentary sounds more dramatic than TV commentary. The radio commentators have better voices than most of their television compatriots, and they use their radio voices to good measure to pull you in to the action.

Second, the radio commentator is in complete control of your emotions. All you have to focus on is their voices and the sounds from the stadium so you feel yourself being pulled in “closer to the action.” The near misses sound closer on radio as your heart skips a beat, and your blood pressure rises and falls dependent on what happens.

Third, radio commentary is far more exciting. With games shown on television, it becomes a paint by numbers exercise as you see what’s happening on the pitch just as well as the TV commentator does. With radio, you’re more at the mercy of the commentator who paints a picture to tell you what’s happening. The crowd noise through the radio sounds much louder than on television, which adds to the excitement. Or maybe because you’re more focused on the sounds on the radio that it volume of the crowd sounds louder?

For me, the experience of listening to English football on a radio is probably similar to grabbing an old vinyl album, putting on an amazing pair of headphones and being swallowed up by every note of the music.

If you’ve never had a chance to listen to a radio commentary or it’s been a while, I highly encourage you to try it. You may be pleasantly surprised. Plus it’s a nice way to appreciate life in a different way instead of getting burned out watching television. If you do give it a try, listen to a radio commentary from BBC Radio Five Live for the best experience.

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  1. Tiffany

    March 3, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Great article! I catch sports via the satellite radio in my car whenever I’m on the road. Good stuff!

  2. eplnfl

    January 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Villa v. Blackburn semi-final on 5 Live today. Give it a listen at you desktop for great sports commentary.

  3. Spurs Fan

    January 20, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    C’mon you SPURS! Will miss Lennon today – gives us some good width when playing and his crosses have really improved. 2-1 Spurs!

  4. Spurs Fan

    January 20, 2010 at 2:14 am

    I would like to echo the suggestion of M Garcia – top 5 or 10 would be awesome in this area.

    • The Gaffer

      January 20, 2010 at 6:16 am

      Let me see what I can cook up.

      The Gaffer

  5. barry

    January 20, 2010 at 12:59 am

    @eplnfl – I wasn’t being sarcastic, I actually meant that (well obviously I exaggerated a little).

    • eplnfl

      January 20, 2010 at 7:34 am

      Thank you

  6. M Garcia

    January 19, 2010 at 7:56 pm


    Thank you. Everyone has their own favorite vehicle. My Private Network satisfies my needs perfectly. Perhaps for those who are not as familiar with the type of access available to them a “Top 5 list” or something similar is in order. Sort of like you do with the “Top 10 football apps for iPhone”. These services, some of them more reasonable than others, are really excellent ways to enjoy football abroad.


  7. M Garcia

    January 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm


    This thread is making me paranoid. Big Brother watching? The reality is I wanted to hear what individuals were saying about this issue because I am an absolute junkie when it comes to English radio/television/podcasts etc… I have indeed found the holy grail regarding media. I just don’t know how much the Gaffer appreciates publicizing other services. There is a legal way, at least as far as I know, to get all of the content aforementioned and more with a service whose acronym is MPN. Gaffer, I’ll need your guidance or if you know what I’m talking about maybe you can let in the readers yourself. This service not only applies to all radio, but allows me to listen to Liverpool FC on 105.9 and watch MOD, Soccer AM, etc…, and Sky. Ridiculous embarrassment of riches for sure…But fully deserved in my opinion as I am as committed to my football as any Brit.

    • The Gaffer

      January 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      I’m familiar with My Private Network, which is a private company in the UK. And there are other sites out there that offer similar services. Same with Tunin.FM. It’s available legally.

      I don’t post info about illegal streams, but I realize they’re out there, but there are other sites to keep track of those.

      The Gaffer

  8. Kyle

    January 19, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Anyone here listen to Fighting Talk on Five Live quality. Also listening to BBC London and a streaker got on at the Valley. lol

    • man99utd

      January 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm


      listen to Fighting Talk every week. Love it.

  9. Spurs Fan

    January 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Gaffer and fellow readers,

    Want to know if I’m missing anything. Here are my vices listed in order of prioirty (free unless noted):
    * Five Live
    *MOTD download
    *BBC website
    *Five Live Podcasts
    *EPL talk (good commentaries and info)
    *The Guardian – exact replication of the Newspaper (subscription required)
    *TV- FSC, ESPN (subscription)
    *Computer – live streams of various matches around the globe, though quality is sometimes poor.
    * Twice annual trips to the motherland to see Spurs at the Lane and away.

  10. StephenLucey

    January 19, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Hence the beauty of downloading Match of the Day. Best of both worlds!

  11. Kyle

    January 19, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Got BBC Radio London on its Charlton 1 Hartlepools 1. It’s briliant stuff football on radio.

  12. Spurs Fan

    January 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    TWI (the Premiership radio broadcaster) on Sirius don’t come close to matching Five Live in broadcast quality. But who would have thunk it that in my lifetime I could be listening to BBC Five Live here in San Francisco, while driving to Tahoe, or even the corner market. Unbelievable!!

    btw – I can’t seem to find BBC London (Spurs commentaries) onTuninFM on my Iphone. Can you help? Though I do agree with a previous comment that the level of commentary is very inferior to the national broadcast of Five live.

    • The Gaffer

      January 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm

      Spurs Fan, it’s listed on Tunin.FM under “BBC Radio London.”

      The Gaffer

  13. Spurs Fan

    January 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I was hoping that people would keep this on the “down low”, as I am now concerned that the “Beeb” will close this loop based on rights restrictions. Just praying they won’t. But until then BBC Five Live is the best radio station in the world and with cable/satellite subscriptions rates going through the roof, I will continue to enjoy to listen to Ingham, Pougatch, “Ellie”, Gabby, Murray, and yes even “Greenie”. Getting ready for the Manchester Derby.
    btw – If they do close the “loop” I would be willing to pay for a subscription to Five Live, if you “techies” can figure how to get around the blackouts.

    • The Gaffer

      January 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

      Spurs Fan, aye, it’s a fine line between keeping it on the down low, but also letting readers know about it. But I wonder if/how the Beeb would be able to tell where the person is coming from if they’re accessing the content from the Tunin.FM via 3G.

      In the States, Sirius Satellite broadcasts some of the 5 Live games, mostly Premier League games.

      The Gaffer

  14. Kyle

    January 19, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    My favorite radio memory is the Euro 2000 playoff second leg England 0 Scotland 1. i wanted England to go through and it was agony the last ten minutes. But I to this day enjoy Alan Green because he doesn’t just give you a description of the action but also tells you if one side is playing poorly and also unlike commentators here he feels free to tell you if the match is poor and doesn’t feel the need to be a sports pr man like on tv here. Also Elton Welsby on Century FM was briliant.

  15. M Garcia

    January 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I really enjoy radio commentary also and hate to ask the technical questions on a post but have to. The apps that I have, primarily WunderRadio and Tunin, at least when it comes to BBC radio five live, always blocks because of rights restrictions. Am I wrong on this one? Sounds like you all get BBC radio just fine. I’m also a LIverpool supporter and when City Talk 105.9 broadcasts on game days, no dice on the Liverpool games, i.e., blocked. What do I have wrong here guys?

    Ian Cranson: Definitely interested. What have you got?

    • The Gaffer

      January 19, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      M Garcia, I had the same problem too in the past, but the radio broadcasts aren’t blocked for me anymore. The only thing I can think of is to listen to Tunin.FM via your 3G connection instead of the wireless option, maybe that’ll do the trick.

      Enjoy it while you can. I’m sure the Beeb will close that loophole as soon as I find out about it 🙁

      The Gaffer

  16. Peter

    January 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I always prefer TV for any sport, but I must say that football on the radio is probably only second to baseball in terms of enjoyment when listening.

  17. IanCransonsKnees

    January 19, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    “I will mute the TV feed from now on and listen to the radio commentary.”

    My and my mates over here always do that on the rare occassions Stoke are on the box. Local Radio Commentary is a must if you cannot get to the away games.

    Do any of you subscribe to the clubs own radio feeds? Over here all the clubs throughout the league run a subscription service so you can listen to the BBC local radio feed anywhere in the world when the match is on. If anyone’s interested I’ll try to post you some examples.

  18. barry

    January 19, 2010 at 10:42 am

    “I will mute the TV feed from now on and listen to the radio commentary.”

    This is the most useful thing I have ever read in any comment on any blog about football ever!

    • eplnfl

      January 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm

      Barry, I could keep this on your level and tell you yours is one of the dumbest replies ever made, but if it makes the game more enjoyable to a fan thats great.

      Technology has made the game very enjoyable over the years for fans from far off places. I always enjoy the local radio broadcasts of my local games in Chicago and find EPL matches the same. The iphone has helped make us more local a ocean away.

      Grow up Barry!

  19. Kevin

    January 19, 2010 at 10:13 am

    BBC London is terrible. The announcers’ voices usually suck, and they are far too casual. I listen to Spurs on there when I have to, but I prefer not to.

  20. man99utd

    January 19, 2010 at 9:30 am


    BBC Radio Five Live and Five Live Extra broadcast football and are avaiable on Tunin.FM radio app.

    Do you know of any other radio apps?

  21. eplnfl

    January 19, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Yes, Chris is right on this the iphone and the various radio apps have been a great service to the football fan. BBC London Radio over the phone has become my first choice for following the Saturday action over my TV, with Talksports another good choice. I’ll turn down the sound if the game is on TV and follow it on radio. It’s not always in synch but still a better way to follow the action. No joke here but it seems less remote. The announcer is more connected to the game and you pick up more of a feeling of being there. What stations carry the games is a bit uncertain. BBC London is unblocked and so was Radio Merseyside the other day for the Everton game. Anyone know of any others.

    Another great thing is that you can plug your iphone into your car radio with the right equipment and have the games on the go. It is a real help to free up time and stay on top of the action at the same time.

  22. man99utd

    January 19, 2010 at 6:53 am

    I watched a portion of the Man City v Everton match on TV and a portion on the same app mentioned by the Gaffer. Conclusion. I will mute the TV feed from now on and listen to the radio commentary. I know many people give Alan Green a right slagging off, and he’s no fan of Sir Alex, but he imo is a wonderful radio commentator.

  23. Gavin Thomson

    January 19, 2010 at 6:19 am

    I only ever listen to the football on the radio when I’m in the car.

    BBC 5-Live and 5-Live Sports Extra are awesome for that.

    Sky Sports Live Football all the way for me !

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