The backstories of sports broadcasters often begin with a particular anecdote. They recall sneaking transistor radios underneath their pillows with their parents none the wiser, listening to the muffled sounds of their favorite teams as they fell asleep.
Pete Weber’s fondness for radio, originating from a Zenith tabletop unit in his bedroom, was less subtle.
“I didn’t have to sneak it because my parents knew and they abided by it,” he said.
From his hometown of Galesburg, Ill., located roughly halfway between Chicago and St. Louis, Weber had a wide range of frequencies to choose from. He was drawn to legendary announcers Harry Caray and Jack Buck calling St. Louis Cardinals games on KMOX. He’d constantly channel-surf, switching to WCFL in Chicago to listen to the White Sox and then WGN to listen to the Cubs.
There were Twin games on WCCO in Minnesota, Tigers games on WJR in Detroit and even Triple-A baseball games on WBAP in Dallas. And that was just during the summer.
“I could tell that yes, they were there every day like a job,” Weber said of Caray and Buck, “but it didn’t seem like a job because it was clear to me that they were enjoying themselves, for the most part.”
This season, Weber, affectionately known as the “Voice of the Predators” will return to his broadcasting roots, leaving the television booth to join the Predators radio team with former Predators coach Brent Peterson and former goaltender Chris Mason, who will split commentating duties.
Willy Daunic, formerly the radio play-by-play analyst, will transition to television alongside color analyst and former player Stu Grimson.
“I think that every play-by-play guy probably enjoys radio far more than TV,” Weber said. “As (iconic Los Angeles Dodgers announcer) Vin (Scully) would say, ‘You have the palette, you have all the colors, you can paint the picture just the way you see it,’ rather than being captive or prisoner of what the director (and) producer decide to put up on the screen and you become a caption artist rather than someone who describes what’s going on.”
Weber’s reassignment, announced by the team in July, was met with relative dismay from the fanbase, much of which had been introduced to hockey by him. There are, however, new advantages available to Weber in his new role. For example, local television coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs ends after the first round, so if the Predators were to advance past that point, Weber’s coverage in his former role would be effectively over. That is no longer a concern.
He also recognizes the romance in reuniting with his first love.
“I think it’s more gratifying for the announcer, I really do,” he said. “Radio’s what comes naturally to me.”
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