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How Cardinals Sound Engineers Bring Energy And Ambience To A Fan-Free Stadium

St. Louis Cardinals opening day
Bill Greenblatt
The St. Louis Cardinals bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates in an empty Busch Stadium on opening day in St. Louis on Friday, July 24, 2020.

Tony Simokaitis has been a soundman with the St. Louis Cardinals since 1996. But this season, the scoreboard director found himself in tune with the intricacies of baseball more than ever.

That’s because when Major League Baseball launched its shortened, COVID-delayed season last month, there were no fans in the stands. But sound engineers make it sound like there are. They work to simulate crowd murmurs and cheers — electronically. And the sounds are audible during radio and TV broadcasts as well.

Simokaitis joined Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air to share how he creates that faux-crowd energy in an empty ballpark.

“For a normal game, I usually sort of bounce around quite a bit from place to place and do different things. And so sitting and watching every pitch and sort of having to react to every moment in the game, yeah, it's been a little tricky for me,” he explained.

“But you know, that's part of the flow. And that's one of the things that you realize, once you start doing this, that there are a lot of sights and sounds that go into every moment of every baseball game.”

Ahead of the discussion with Simokaitis, Derrick Goold updated us on the season’s latest news. Goold is the lead Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

As of Wednesday, seven Cardinals players and six staff members tested positive for the coronavirus, but the team plans to compete this Friday against the Chicago Cubs.

Do the fake crowd chants and noise satisfy your baseball viewing experience? Or do you miss the real deal? Tweet us (@STLonAir), send an email to talk@stlpublicradio.org or share your thoughts via our St. Louis on the Air Facebook group, and help inform our coverage.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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