The Voices of Major League Baseball – Part 2

This is the second installment of our three part series highlighting the radio voices of Major League Baseball. 30 media members from across the nation have shared their perspectives on what makes their local announcers great and unique, and I encourage you to do a little bit of reading to become more familiar with radio’s best storytellers and in-game presenters. If you haven’t already read part 1 you can do so by clicking here.

In the sports radio industry many take for granted how important play by play is to a radio station. They also forget just how skilled many of these broadcasters are who capture each game experience and make it a vital part of a listeners life. Selling the game of baseball and all that is associated with it requires a mixture of passion, insight, preparation and focus, and as radio dedicates thousands of hours of air time over the next six months to feature America’s favorite pastime, it felt like the right time to pay tribute to those who help our stations enjoy ratings and revenue success, while enhancing relationships with audiences all across the country.

On that note, let me introduce you to the voices of Major League Baseball.

Houston Astros – Robert Ford and Steve Sparks – as told by Chris Gordy.

At SportsTalk790, we are fortunate to have two of the very best in the business, play-by-play man Robert Ford and color analyst and former knuckleballer Steve Sparks. Baseball is the best of the radio sports, and the reason Robert and Steve are outstanding is because they have an innate ability to paint the picture of what’s happening, while mixing in a great balance of analytical breakdowns and entertainment. Entering their fifth season together, they do an exceptional job of making the audience feel closer to the action.

A decade ago when the Astros last advanced to the World Series, Houston truly was a baseball-dominant town. We think it’s becoming that way again. With a young core of players, and some big off-season additions, the Astros are a team set up for a World Series run. Should that happen, we’ll be in great hands thanks to Robert and Steve’s abilities to bring the sounds of the game to our listeners on SportsTalk790 and the Astros radio network.

Kansas City RoyalsDenny Matthews and Ryan Lefebvre – as told by Bob Fescoe.

Denny Matthews has seen every single pitch the Royals have ever thrown. Seriously. Denny was hired when the Royals became a team back in 1969 and has been behind the mic ever since. From the great years to the bad years and now back to the great years, the one constant has been Denny. Summer evenings in Kansas City aren’t complete until you have Denny on the radio. Everyone, no matter the age, identifies with him. His voice screams baseball, it screams Royals, and it screams Kansas City. Denny is an icon, and the true voice of the Royals, and everyone has a favorite Denny call.

Ryan Lefebvre has been behind the mic since 1999, and has quickly become the voice of record for the Royals. During their runs in 2014 and 2015, it seemed like all of the big moments happened during the innings in which Ryan was behind the mic. From the Wild Card win to the last out of the 2015 World Series, there was Ryan with the big call. What makes him special is his brain. There may not be a smarter and funnier broadcaster (in a very dry way) than Ryan. He is as prepared as anyone when it comes to baseball, and is beloved by local baseball fans.

When Ryan and Denny speak, fans listen. Whether they’re appearing on the radio station as a guest or calling the action during the 3rd inning of a Tuesday night game, fans hang on their every word. Both guys are so very well respected, appreciated and loved here in Kansas City, and when the Royals are winning there is nothing better than flipping on the radio and hearing Ryan and Denny behind the mic.

Los Angeles AngelsTerry Smith and Mark Langston – as told by Trent Rush.

Angels baseball on AM830 captures the summertime vibe of Orange County that is cool, relaxed, and fun. Terry Smith gives great validity to our station as a trusted voice. He puts great emphasis on accuracy and rises to the moment for big calls. Terry’s highlight reel is flooded with excitement and poise concurrently.

Former pitcher Mark Langston compliments Terry on the broadcast and is an insightful analyst who weaves his playing experience and relationships with players into a perspective that allows fans to connect. Listeners feel like they know Mark and the team because of him. He understands the game very well and demonstrates knowledge of game situations that are too often forgotten by other analysts. Mark brings extra charm and personality that makes listening to Angels baseball fun.

AM830 is more than focused on Angels baseball. Angels games are our centerpiece and foundation. Terry and Mark wear that responsibility well and create an environment at our station and on our airwaves that makes us proud to work here and have them to look up to, as experienced broadcasters.

Los Angeles DodgersCharley Steiner and Rick Monday – as told by Dave Weiss.

On AM 570 LA Sports we’re fortunate to have four time Emmy Award Winner Charley Steiner and Dodger great Rick Monday announcing every play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both veterans had the good fortune of calling games alongside broadcasting legend Vin Scully, and as a pair they provide a unique fan experience and view of the game which blends Steiner’s casual play-by-play style and Monday’s insight into the mechanics of the game and the emotions involved with playing it.

Steiner’s credentials include 30 years of broadcasting and a recent induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame, one of only 17 other sportscaster to ever be honored. His secret to success has been his ability to bring listeners into the game with descriptions that combine stories, stats and references that bring past and current (Dodgers) history together. Charley grew up a Dodger fan, and has been a member of the broadcast team since 2005. Prior to moving to Los Angeles to call games, he spent three seasons working alongside John Sterling on New York Yankees games.

Monday on the other hand is the former Dodger centerfielder who’s most famously known for saving an American flag during a protest in 1976. He’s popular among Dodger fans because of his insight, credibility and unique blend of storytelling. Rick has a knack for bringing listeners into the game with exclusive pre-game interviews with coaches, legends and players, while inviting the audience to learn, understand, and talk about what players go thru, what transpired during the previous game, and what may happen during the next one.

The Dodgers have won four consecutive National League West division titles, making them an important focus of AM 570 LA Sports. With Charley and Rick providing the call, Dodger fans are in very good hands. I invite you to take a listen and hear for yourself what makes them special.

Miami MarlinsDave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner – as told by Joe Raineri.

The Miami Marlins have gone through some changes over the years in South Florida. They recently had a new state of the art indoor ballpark built in Miami. Multiple managers, coaches and player personnel have come and gone. Even the television broadcast team that covers the Marlins at Fox Sports Florida has seen multiple changes over the years. Last year it was broadcast by committee. We were never really sure who was going to join Rich Waltz, who is in his 12th season calling the play-by-play action for the team, in the booth.

Yet with all of these changes, fans of the Marlins can take comfort in knowing that one thing has remained the same. The voice that comes out of the speakers inside the cars, offices, phones and homes of Marlins fans – Dave Van Horne. The legendary announcer has been the lead play by play voice of the Marlins since 2001. He and Glenn Geffner, a Miami native, are the radio play-by-play team on the Miami Marlins Radio Network. Geffner joined the Marlins in 2008, and together they provide a certain comfort level to the South Florida baseball listener. In a time when almost nothing seems for certain, especially on Radio and TV,  having Dave and Glenn for 162 games a year in your ear is about as comforting as it gets being a Marlins fan.

So if you find yourself in South Florida, and want to hear a baseball game called on the medium it was made for, check out 940 WINZ and listen to Dave and Glenn paint a picture so vivid that you’ll almost feel as if you’re up at the plate.

Milwaukee BrewersBob Uecker and Jeff Levering – as told by Doug Russell.

Bob Uecker simply defines summers in Wisconsin. When Bob is on the air, everything seems okay. He is more than a baseball announcer, more than a showman; he is in the rarefied air of actually being more than even the game itself throughout the state. And while he has scaled back his workload in the past few years, Bob will be the identity of the Brewers for generations to come. Unlike the Dodgers and the incomparable Vin Scully, the Brewers don’t have the same team history to draw upon. But we have Uke.

Joining Bob for his second season is talented newcomer Jeff Levering. Jeff is simply one of the most talented young play-by-play announcers in the game. Whether it’s been Pat Hughes, Jim Powell, Cory Provus, Joe Block, or now Jeff, the Brewers have a knack for finding that next great straight man to Bob’s shining star.

The Brewers and WTMJ are so intertwined with each other that it’s hard to imagine them playing on another station. Just as WTMJ is the station of record and a public trust, so too are the Brewers to their incredibly loyal fans. Even during challenging seasons, fans flock to Miller Park, and AM 620 at 7:00 most summer nights. It is a relationship that both parties certainly respect and even treasure.

Minnesota TwinsCorey Provus and Dan Gladden – as told by Phil Mackey.

Minnesota tends to be a very provincial territory. It often takes a minute before we fully embrace outsiders with open arms. Couple this with the fact that Cory Provus took over radio play-by-play duties in 2012 for John Gordon, who, along with the legendary Herb Carneal, called the 1987 and 1991 World Series wins, and gained national visibility for his role in Little Big League, and you can see why Provus had big shoes to fill.

Five years into their pairing, here’s why I love Provus and Dan Gladden. The Twins have had a historically bad run lately, which makes for a lot of irrelevant baseball games during the dog days of summer. Provus and Gladden, through humor, honesty, storytelling and intelligent baseball banter, still manage to create compelling audio. It’s a lot easier to offer an interesting broadcast when your team is winning 95 games and going deep into the playoffs. Try captivating an audience though when your team is enduring multiple 90-loss seasons.

Another reason why this pairing works is because Gladden offers an old-school, gritty perspective as a guy who played 10+ years in the league. Provus, on the other hand, has a healthy knowledge and respect for sabermetrics and other newer ways to observe the game, and he translates those things in a way that busy mass audiences can understand.

It’s a great contrast and excellent partnership that helps make Twins baseball on the radio an entertaining listen. 

New York MetsHowie Rose, Josh Lewin and Wayne Randazzo – as told by Wayne Randazzo.

It may seem like it’s coming from a place of bias, but I do believe the Mets radio broadcasts are among the best in baseball. Howie Rose and Josh Lewin call the vast majority of the games together while I fill in for each of them on the roughly 30 games that either may miss. WOR is largely a news and conservative talk station with a mix of local and syndicated shows so I think the Mets broadcasts give the station an enhanced New York flavor during baseball season.

There is a great deal of professionalism brought to the broadcast. It’s easy to not be as informed on the opposing team as you are for the one you cover on a daily basis, but I believe that all 3 of us do extensive research to sound as educated as possible on the opponent.

What makes Howie and Josh great is that they’re both hysterical, and have allowed me to feel at ease bringing humor and light to the broadcast. Regardless of which combination is calling a game, we all have tremendous chemistry with one another. Additionally, Howie is a walking Mets encyclopedia. He’s been a fan or broadcaster of the team during its entire existence. At any moment, a fan of any age can either get a memory fired up or a lesson in Mets history from Howie.

When you listen to baseball on the radio, you want every pitch and storyline of the game presented, and you want to be entertained and hear passion for the game from the announcers. I think listeners would agree that the Mets radio broadcasts pass all 3 of those tests with flying colors. We have fun doing our jobs, and I think that’s noticeable to the audience.

New York Yankees – John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman – as told by Mark Chernoff.

John Sterling has been the “voice of the Yankees” since 1989 and has not missed a single game. Suzyn Waldman, a WFAN original employee in 1987, has partnered with John on the broadcasts since 2005.

What makes John and Suzyn an excellent team is that they each possess encyclopedic minds about the Yankees and baseball. They’ve been around long enough to talk Yankees history but are also able to capture the excitement of today. They’re honest with the audience during both positive and negative situations, and their chemistry is one-of-a-kind. In particular, Suzyn is often able to finish many of John’s thoughts. They’re also

As it relates to John, he’s both informative and entertaining. He has one of the most distinctive voices in radio and to hear him every night makes you feel like the Yankees will be winners. What sets him apart is that he mixes creativity with play-by-play. His home run calls and “nick names” for players such as “it’s an A-bomb from A-Rod” are popular and help show off his style. John also has a flair for the dramatic, and his “The Yankees win…the Yankees WIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNN” has become a trademark of Yankees broadcasts.

As for Suzyn, there isn’t anyone out there who knows more about the Yankees players, coaches and Manager. Her insight into the players is second to none. She has the ability to engage in conversation about stats but also brings an “inside the locker room” update on the team that sets her apart from many analysts.

The Yankees are an iconic product and our broadcast enhances that image. I expect and receive an honest broadcast every night, which is what our listeners also expect and receive when John and Suzyn are on the air.

Oakland AthleticsKen Korach and Vince Cotroneo – as told by Roxy Bernstein.

In my opinion, Ken Korach is among the best play-by-play broadcasters in the game. I’m certainly biased because I consider Ken a mentor, friend and colleague. What stands out is his attention to detail, voice, pacing and description. It’s as good as there is. I’ve been lucky enough to share the radio booth with Ford C. Fricke Award Winners Dave Van Horne and Jon Miller, and Ken is right there alongside them among the elites in broadcasting.

Another important part of Ken’s excellence stems from his connection with the audience. His conversational style combined with his humor and wit keeps everyone entertained, even if the game is not, and that’s a big reason why he is beloved among A’s fans.

Adding to the quality of the broadcast is Ken’s pairing with Vince Cotroneo. Vince possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience which is on display during each broadcast. No duo works harder and provides better information around the game than Ken and Vince which is why they complement each other so well and have a special relationship with Oakland A’s fans.

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