TSN 1040 bills itself as the "Home of Whitecaps FC", and the radio station has been covering Whitecaps games in one form or another since 2001.
When the team joined Major League Soccer in 2011, the radio station stepped up its commitment to the team with game-day broadcasts both at home and on the road, including informative, extended pre- and postgame shows.
But in 2017 it stopped sending its broadcast team on the road to cover the 'Caps, except for matches against big Cascadia rivals Seattle and Portland, both of which are conveniently—and less expensively—just a few hours' drive down the I-5.
However, listeners might be forgiven for not realizing that play-by-play announcer Corey Basso, colour man Paul Dolan, and half-time analyst Carlo Corazzin are sitting in a Vancouver studio for the live road broadcasts "from" all other MLS venues.
That's because they never seem to actually tell listeners that they are not in the broadcast booth in the away stadiums. Instead—at least in several archived broadcasts sampled by the Georgia Straight—Basso and Dolan repeatedly refer to themselves as being "here" when referencing the home team's pitch.
Not once were either of the hosts heard to say that they were watching the game in their home city on a big-screen monitor with piped-in sound.
Fans can go to TSN 1040's audio-archive page to listen to away broadcasts, complete with post-match shows. In the April 7 Whitecaps road game against Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, the broadcast opened with sounds of the crowd, stadium announcements, cheers, and chants.
At approximately the 2:44 mark of the recorded show (times given do not reflect scoreboard time), Basso says there is "a little bit of rain here in Sandy, Utah"; Dolan, at about the 54:28 mark, talks about "an opportunity to get something out of Rio Tinto here today". Immediately after, at 54:42, Basso says, "It's Corey Basso [and] Paul Dolan at Rio Tinto Stadium," then: "Carlo Corazzin now up from the analyst booth, joining me, Corey Basso, here at Rio Tinto Stadium [54:47]."
After a goal was disallowed, then allowed (1:47:05), Basso says, "They're really keeping the broadcasters on their toes here in the stadium."
TSN 1040 program director Robert Gray, speaking to the Straight by phone, confirmed the station's reduced travel schedule: "They travel for some matches, Seattle and Portland....They don't go to matches in other markets, no."
Asked if the broadcast team was attempting to deliberately give the impression that they were live in the away stadiums, Gray said: "They don't say they're not there and they don't say they are there."
However, when read an archived Basso quote from the April 7 broadcast (1:48) that seemed to contradict that statement—"...here at Rio Tinto Stadium, we'll bring Carlo Corazzin back into the booth...before we wrap it all up and send it back to Vancouver"—Gray replied: "That's probably a slip."
He also said such "remote" broadcasts were not unique to TSN 1040 and soccer: "It's something that's been going on for a while in some sports, for sure."
The recorded broadcast of a March 31 road game against the Eastern Conference's Columbus Crew SC at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, also contained such "live" road references, with no apparent acknowledgement that the broadcasters were, in fact, in Vancouver.
After a "here at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus" opening remark (:15), Basso talked about the weather they were experiencing (3:01)—"a little bit windy here in Columbus, and a bit of a sparse crowd"—before introducing Corazzin (seemingly ensconsed somewhere in the stadium) for the halftime segment (50:55): "...Carlo Corazzin, who will be joining me up from his press-box analyst booth."
Gray, when asked if such statements might be regarded as deliberately deceptive by his listeners, replied: "No, I think that what people are most concerned about is, what is the coverage they get?
"Does it cover it properly and is it entertaining?...That's what it's all about, isn't it? Entertainment?"
The Straight attempted to contact a representative from the Vancouver Southsiders—the Whitecaps' oldest supporters group—to comment but was unable to reach someone by post time.