Thursday, March 08, 2007

Big Names Making Local Calls

Big names making local calls

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Mar 8, 2007 3:00 AM (5 hrs ago)
Current rank: # 2 of 21,204 articles
WASHINGTON - In Major League Baseball and other professional sports, economics have changed. Broadcasters used to scratch and claw to get to the network level, but the trend has reversed. Many quality personalities now feel it’s better to be a local broadcaster who mixes in a few network games. Full time network jobs have been cut and are no longer as attractive as they once were.

FOX’s lead announcer, Joe Buck, still calls Cardinals home games. ESPN’s Jon Miller handles the Giants radio and TV broadcasts and Dave O’Brien is now doing Red Sox radio along with ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball.

Locally, MASN and CSN are perfect examples of regional cable networks that want top talent. Meanwhile, top name announcers are seeking a combination of stability and a steady paycheck over the glitz of being a network broadcaster.

The MASN crew of Gary Thorne, Bob Carpenter, Jim Palmer, Don Sutton and Buck Martinez all has big-time network experience. But each saw broadcasting for a quality regional sports outfit as more attractive than battling the network wars.

MASN and CSN are in the minority when it comes to seeking out network-quality broadcasters. The vast majority is willing to hire younger, cheaper talent and pair it with a popular former player. For them it is a matter of economics over quality.

» Carpenter on his second year with the Nationals: “This is a first class organization with great fans and a wonderful future. I love working in the most powerful city in the world and as far as I am concerned I want to keep doing baseball in D.C. with Don Sutton for the rest of my career.”

» Thorne on his new home: “The funny thing was that while I wanted to be the voice of a local team I wasn’t actually looking. Then MASN called and the more I thought about it the more it made sense to me. I love Baltimore; I have worked with Jim Palmer, Buck Martinez and Rick Dempsey before and we are all friends so that makes things easy. As for my ESPN work, well, I will do 20 events this season for them and they are great but I am now the TV voice of the Orioles and I want to be a part of this Hall of Fame broadcast team for a very long time.”

Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer.

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