In our house, there is almost always one or more radios squawking at any given time. It is often the first sound I hear in the morning: the shower running in the bathroom accompanied by National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” It is possible to move from floor to floor, or east to west in our house, and never fall out of earshot of a radio. If my wife’s preference is NPR, mine is 98.7-FM, a local sports-talk station that broadcasts both Twin Cities and Wisconsin on-air talent (I’m particularly fond of Dan Cole’s “The Common Man” program from noon to 3 p.m.). Sports talk radio isn’t usually especially erudite, but that is part of the attraction. It’s a harmless distraction from the seriousness of this world.

When I was a boy, I kept a radio beside my bed, and after I was told to extinguish my reading lamp and go to sleep, I’d tune in a baseball game and listen to Bob Uecker narrate the happenings of a Brewers game. From images on holy baseball cards, I could imagine the players Uecker was describing: Robin Yount, Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor, BJ Surhoff ... Consuming sports in those days was so different. The morning newspaper was my touchstone as I scanned the previous day’s box scores. Very occasionally my mom would take us to the Metrodome, or, once, County Stadium. Even watching pivotal games on TV felt monumental. Certainly not as easy as live streaming a game on a telephone. The notion of easy access to a multiplicity of games across sports and continents was unfathomable.

It would be an overstatement to claim that I always prefer listening to an NFL game on the radio versus watching TV, but I’ll say this: Sometimes I would rather wash dishes or fold laundry while listening to Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren broadcast a Packers game, because I can multi-task in ways I can’t simply hunkered down on the couch. And because listening to the radio is so much more akin to the dynamics of oral storytelling.

There is also a certain patience that is necessary, forgiveness even. Minor details are sacrificed for the clarity of the most pertinent action. And there is drama, too, in this form of “spectating.” I absolutely love driving through rural Wisconsin on a Sunday and listening to a Packers game on the radio, but the anguish and anxiety of drifting to the outer fringes of a station’s broadcasting signal is enough to make a fan break into a sweat, as the radio dials are scanned for a new, cleaner transmission.

These days I’m trying to convey the subtleties of radio to our son. But it isn’t easy. “I can’t see it,” he says rightly, “when the defense is really blitzing the quarterback, I can’t untangle all the names.”

There is a dynamic, a dedication, a relationship between radio sports broadcaster and listener, and this trust must be earned. A sports fan listening to the radio must be aware of their team’s roster, of which athletes play what positions, of jersey numbers. A listener must lean in, pay attention, and like a musician in an orchestra, follow the directions of a maestro. It is fair to say that a casual fan may be frustrated experiencing a game in this way. But a fan that has followed a team for years will be rewarded by a broadcaster’s poetic narration, by the descriptions of uniforms, the state of the field, the weather, and those pregnant moments in a game when nothing much happens at all. When the broadcaster is tasked with either allowing the game to breathe, or filling dead-air with some clever aside.

If summer belongs to the movie box office, fall is radio’s time to shine. Baseball is escalating towards the World Series, the hockey and basketball seasons have just begun, and football games are broadcast nearly every day, from a full slate of NFL games on Sunday to Monday Night Football, then a lull before Thursday night NFL action, Friday night high school tilts, and finally Saturday college matchups. I’m such a sports junkie that I derive voyeuristic pleasure in driving through small towns in Wisconsin and tuning in to Friday night high school games that mean nothing to me. But there is a pleasure in scanning the radio dial and landing on a station broadcasting that familiar buzz of ambient crowd buzz beneath amateur announcers celebrating the feats of teenagers at the zenith of their athletic careers. It feels — pure.

Eau Claire is a wonderful market for the sports-radio aficionado, situated such as it is, on the frontier of the Twin Cities market, yet fully ensconced in Wisconsin. For me, this means tuning in occasionally to a Minnesota Vikings game. Not because I like that tragically inept team. Let me be clear: I don’t. At all. But because I delight in listening to their announcer, Paul Allen, vividly depict the agony of Viking fandom. Allen is not just a purple-and-gold devotee, he’s the high priest of Viking Nation, and listening to him suffer abject disappointment nearly every Sunday is somehow therapeutic for me. His calls of Viking losses are the reminder I need that being a Packers fan these last many decades has been an epoch of good fortune, whereas Viking fans seem to dwell in a perpetual state of delusion and misguided positivity. They are the lemmings who have run off the side of a cliff yet believe they are wondrously flying. Tuning into their games is, for me, a cheap form of psychotherapy. Inevitably, the Vikings lose, and I feel better about my station in life.

The Germans have a word for this, of course: schadenfreude.