You can turn your radio on, but you won't hear UConn in these parts

TODAY'S DISCOURSE BEGINS IN CAPITAL LETTERS AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF HOW LOUD UCONN'S NEW RADIO BROADCAST TEAM MUST SPEAK FOR ANYBODY TO HEAR THEM, NOW THAT STATE U'S INTELLIGENTSIA HAS FORGONE 50,000-WATT WTIC FOR PUNCHLESS 97.9 ESPN.

And you thought the only disaster was on the field Thursday night for UConn's season opener. The new flagship station, the Hartford-based 97.9 FM, and its affiliates hardly cover the state the way WTIC can, chafing many fans, especially here in eastern Connecticut.

It's nothing new, of course, for UConn to treat us like we're Rhode Island here east of the river. You may remember the traveling carnival of early summer, where UConn coaches were schlepped to various outposts to greet fans and, essentially, beg for money.

Ringling Bros. stopped in Glastonbury, Stamford, Branford and New York, forgetting us cattle here in them, thar hills.

Now comes a new rendition of radio daze. Translation: We couldn't hear the game. The flagship doesn't have the signal to reach us in most of eastern Connecticut, where, apparently, nobody lives. Mike Crispino and Wayne Norman, the broadcast team, would reach more people by opening the broadcast booth windows and shouting than through affiliates WILI (1400-AM) in Willimantic and WXLM (980-AM) in New London.

WXLM is fine for day games. But its signal weakens at night. Ought to be perfect for basketball. I used to live on Gardner Ave. in New London and honestly couldn't get the 980 signal for Yankee games at night. In the same city. It hardly covers New London County. State U officials would have known that had some homework been done.

At least one member of the UConn hierarchy said at the game Thursday the move from WTIC to iHeart was "change for the sake of change."

"My big disappointment is with the athletic department and its disdain for the diminishing group of fans," reader Dave Moorehead of Gales Ferry wrote. "I've had season tickets for 14 years and have always listened to the pre-game and post-game radio broadcasts in my car. Not only did UConn not manage to keep (26-year play-by-play voice) Joe (D'Ambrosio), by far the best game broadcaster, they switched to an anemic FM radio station that does not reach SE CT.

"I guess they don't care about the fans in this area. There was no broadcast in Ledyard. I could only hear it weakly once reaching the Colchester area. It faded out on the way home. A friend from Norwich didn't get it at all. Guess we won't be listening to any UConn games. What a foolish, uncaring step for UConn to take in dumping the broadcast for fans in this area."

Foolish and uncaring.

Dave should go to the window and collect.

This gets better. Or worse. I checked the 97.9 website the day of the game Thursday to see if it promoted the upcoming broadcast. Another swing and a miss.

Hello?

Is this thing on?

Explain, again, how making it inconvenient to listen to games truly serves UConn fans?

That's the word: inconvenient. Surely, there's an app for your phone which would make listening to the games easier. But why require the extra step when there's a 50,000-watt station that did your games for decades? People like listening to the postgame show as they exit the Rent/XL/Gampel and drive home. They don't want to fumble with their phones to do so. Just because this is the age of technology doesn't mean we're all required to catch the fever.

Not sure we have a choice. Example: after a big night game this winter at Gampel, you might be able to catch parts of the postgame show on 97.9 or WILI. Until they fade quickly. And then ... what? It's asking too much for a clear signal in the car after the game?

I'm starting to wonder about ol' State U. Who is making these decisions? Is he or she being advised correctly? Does anybody up there have their pulse on anything outside of Hartford County?

There's already a University of Hartford.

This is the University of Connecticut.

Big difference.

Maybe the poohbahs up there can start acting like it.

Meantime, can Mike and Wayne speak a little louder from Boise?

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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