(Cincinnati) January 1, 2016 In a bold and unexpected move, the Cincinnati Reds have named broadcast veteran and Cincinnati native Mark Elliott as Managing Director of the Reds on Radio. Elliott, at one time the butt of all Mark Sebastian’s jokes on Q102, takes over the radio broadcasts for a team in transition. With no actual experience in sports broadcasting, Elliott plans an announcement soon naming the replacement for Reds play-by-play announcer Franchester “Marty” Brenemann, who unexpectedly retired after hearing of Elliott’s new position.

It could happen.. yeah, sure it could happen. About the same time pigs fly over the Flying Pig Marathon. But there are three true statements in the paragraph above –

1) I was the butt of all Mark Sebastian’s jokes. (If you grew up listening to Q102, can you ever forget him playing Stairway to Heaven every night for about 5 years?)

2) Franchester is Marty’s B’s actual first name and

3) I am a broadcast veteran with no experience in sports radio.

But I am a huge fan of baseball, especially on the radio. Radio and baseball have made perfect partners since the radio was invented. And baseball is enjoyed on the radio by more listeners than any other sport. So what would I do if I ran the Reds on Radio? Let’s begin

Microphones EVERYWHERE

Radio is an audio medium. We need to hear every aspect of the game, from balls hitting gloves to umpires calling balls and strikes and players “gently disagreeing”. So I would put a microphone on everything that moves – players, umps, managers – and many things that don’t – bases, outfield walls, home plate. Yes, you would have to hire a lot of people to manage and mix these sounds (and delay them to avoid the inevitable utterance of “Ah Fudge!”). Why not a mic on the bullpen phone? The managers have to talk between innings to the TV broadcasters, why not make Brian Price talk to us on the air when he makes a dumb pitching move? I love the sounds in the ballpark and with the technology today, you can bring those sounds right into the broadcast.

SIRI is the Umpire

I love the K Zone or whatever baseball TV calls that box they show around home plate that demonstrates that the ump was right .. or wrong.. about a call. Incorporate that on the air. Let the K Zone call balls and strikes live on the radio at the same time the ump makes the call (using the SIRI voice, or just have John Hirshbeck record a bunch of ball and strike calls and use that). Would it get irritating? Maybe, but it would add a dimension to the radio broadcast that hasn’t been there before.

Speaking of technology, baseball is missing the big chance to convert to 100% non-human umpiring. RFID chips in gloves, balls, bases, shoes, foul poles, outfield walls.. it couldn’t be that hard to write the program that lets the computer make EVERY call on the field. The nerds (like me) would love it. (Google RFID chips)

Don’t Turn On the Guest Microphone While The Game Is On

I love to hear Hal McCoy tell stories, and find out what John Fay knows from the baseball beat of the Enquirer. But not during game action.

“It’s The Skyline Chili Fifth Third Bank Call to the Bullpen On the Cincinnati Bell Hudepohl Beer Reds Radio Network Sponsored by Grippo’s Potato Chips!” Really?

Cut back on all the commercial sponsorships. Two minutes of ads during each inning break (or pitcher change) is fine, but the repeated short advertisements during game action can get annoying.

“Good evening and welcome to Reds Baseball… I’m …”

No one subject that I’ve broached this year has caused more concern and controversy than talking about Marty Brennaman. He’s a world class baseball and sports broadcaster that deserves the awards and accolade he has been given. And to some extents, he has earned the right go out on his own terms. But as you have read on this blog and others, many people think Marty is past his prime. And at the ripe young age of 73 he probably won’t be retiring soon. (Baseball announcers seem to defy age. Bob Uecker is still going strong at 81 and Vin Scully is just now thinking of completely retiring at age 87.) But what if Marty did decide to call it quits? How do you replace a legend?

For the Reds, it is probably Brennaman redux, Marty’s son Thom. At age 51 with extensive experience in network baseball and football broadcasting, Thom seems like a natural and easy choice – he’s the next guy up for the job. It is the boring predictable choice the Reds will probably make. And it is wrong.
Why not shake things up? Get people’s attention? As the new Reds on Radio head, I’m going looking for a new play-by-play announcer that might excite and entertain the audience at a level not heard before.

I would choose an experienced sports broadcaster that grew up in the area (so a born Reds fan). Someone who is at that point in his (or her) career that this becomes the “cherry on top” of their resume. Someone who would enjoy the all consuming 8 month baseball season and then be able to chill for 4 months doing whatever they want wherever they want. And someone who will be an audience draw when they are announced. And you have to find someone who would not be intimidated by replacing a legend.

My suggestion – Dan Patrick

Born Daniel Patrick Pugh in Zanesville, Dan grew up in Mason, Ohio, a lifelong Bengals and Reds fan. He attended Mason High School and the University of Dayton as a broadcasting major. Dan had a number of radio and TV jobs (including CNN) before landing at ESPN in 1989. He went on to become the face of the network’s anchor Sportscenter program for almost 20 years. In 2007, he quit ESPN (Rick Reilly in Sports Illustrated called it “one of the top 5 biggest career mistakes in entertainment history” causing a major rift between the two formerly close friends).

The Dan Patrick Show is now heard on hundreds of radio stations around the country and seen on the NBC Sports Network. He hosts Sunday Night Football Pregame on NBC and a sports version of Jeopardy on an online TV channel. Sure, he’s successful and wealthy, but who wouldn’t want to move back to your hometown and be the voice of your favorite team?

He’s a great storyteller – he knows everyone in the sports world – he’s the ultimate homer while being able to criticize the team when necessary. He would bring national attention to the team and the radio broadcasts. And it would probably be easier to sell commercials appealing to somewhat younger Reds fans (how many times can we hear Marty touting the charms of a rehab hospital?)

And who do you pair him with? It does make sense to use a former player as color commentator. How about another Cincinnati native, former Red, World Series champion, Hall of Famer and someone with broadcasting experience? Yep, wouldn’t Barry Larkin fit that role really well?

Dan Patrick and Barry Larkin behind the microphone for the Reds on Radio. That’s my choice.

What’s yours?

21 Responses

  1. Tom Billings

    I like the idea of Dan Patrick but hate the idea of the k zone

    • pinson343

      It’s terrible how often umpires badly miss ball/strike calls but replacement by a k zone ? Sometimes a pitch that’s a half an inch outside should be called a strike, and I prefer a human making that call.

  2. ncmountie1

    Dan Patrick would be a GREAT choice and definitely make things interesting.

  3. Carl Sayre

    Great article the only thing I took exception to is comparing Marty who I was a huge fan of in his prime to Vin Scully. You can’t compare anyone to Vin Scully calling Dodgers baseball except maybe Keith Jackson calling any football. There is no comparing Keith Jackson calling college football with maybe the exception of Vin Scully calling Dodger baseball.

    • Victor Vollhardt

      I agree that Keith Jackson and College football are a good combination, But the very best at college foothill was Lindsey Nelson (did baseball real well too).Dick Enberg and Ken Coleman on pro football would be hard to top and both could handle baseball as well . Mr. Enberg is very close to Mr. Scully on baseball coverage and that is says a lot as Mr Scully is recognized by all as the very best. I know many Reds fans want change and it will come in time, but don’t worry about young fans and above all don’t decide on that basis—Mr. Scully has a huge following among the young fans– Why–because the “Quality” is instantly recognized and just because they are young doesn’t mean they can’t see (or hear) it. Buy a full bore subscription to MLB baseball coverage and start to listen to minor league games on radio–that is where you will find a replacement when the time comes.

  4. Chuck Schick

    Why would Dan Patrick take a huge pay cut for a job that becomes less relevant every year? Why would Barry Larkin take a job that causes him to work every day from March-September for less money than he likely makes from his portfolio?
    Years ago, before every game was on TV and your options were listen on the radio or wait until 11:25 for Phil Sampp to give the score, the Reds on Radio was king. Now for almost anyone under 40 it’s just people from trailer parks,mental hospitals and West Virginia calling Marty during rain delays.

    Marty does re-hap commercials because that’s the demo listening to the games. There aren’t enough scooter and diabetic nerve pain manufacturers to make this a profitable long term endeavour. Bob Braun had a younger, hipper demographic than a 2015 Reds radio broadcast. The audience isn’t just shrinking because the team sucks and iPads….they’re actually dying. The Spanish Armada and the guy that played Captain Stubbing have a brighter future than baseball on the radio.

    • Mark Elliott

      Lots of reasons why Dan Patrick might not take the job, but the viability of the medium wouldn’t be one. Over 90% of adults under the age of 35 listen to the radio – AM/FM over the air radio. http://westwoodone.com/BLOG/ViewBlogPost?EntryID=108 They might listen online or on their phone but they are still listening. Radio is still the #1 place where people discover new music.

      Also an interesting assumption about money and employment. Neither of them would take this gig because of the cash. Not everyone works just for the money… a lot of people want the prestige, status and the access to other things that the job can give to them.

      • Chuck Schick

        I’m not questioning the long term viability of radio in general…but baseball on radio specifically.

        I was recently in New York City for a week and while driving back to my hotel each evening I would tune into the Yankee game. I was amazed at how low rent the sponsors were. When the richest team in the biggest market has ad space and official sponsorship status affordable to a local mayonnaisace company it’s a sign that the audience is small and old.

        The Reds have a great radio tradition and “The Brand” has benefitted immeasurably from that history…..it’s difficult to envision it playing a similar role in the future.

        My guess is 15 years ago Dan Patrick would’ve walked to Cincinnati to take over for Marty…would’ve been akin to taking over the Tonight Show from Johnny Carson. Now, it’s like selling the best pagers.

        Assuming that money doesn’t matter, I doubt that Patrick wouldn’t even consider the job now. It’s not the medium, but the decelerating appeal for the game on that medium.

  5. Lord Oracle (@LordOracle22)

    yawn i swear there is like a baseball reference cult. marty b insulted it and now we do not forgive we do not forget. sorry guys but great announcers in baseball are not great because they read stats off of baseball reference and fangraphs. if we go by this criteria scully is the worst announcer in baseball history. get over it marty has already said he is surprised how fast votto got back to being elite just a couple weeks ago. am i the only one who gets tired of the baseball reference cult? they call it the church of metrics. you question obp or war and your outttttttttta heeeeeeeeeeeeeere

    • Matt WI

      Marty’s disdain for fact checking or being open minded about analysis is only part of the problem, and this goes waaaaay beyond his Votto comments. For me, and a few others I’ve seen posting around here, it really starts and ends around his attitude. Too often, he’s just mean spirited and derisive for no reason. Too much editorializing, not enough just straight up game calling (where he excels).

      Bob Ueker doesn’t talk about obp or WAR very much, but I listen to his calls happily. He also doesn’t make it a point to dump on people who do like to talk about obp or WAR.

      • Lord Oracle (@LordOracle22)

        i dont buy it. the back lash started when he questioned votto i mean marty is a legend one best game callers in mlb history and while i agree he can be mean spirited at times hes earned the right to have an opinion. i mean marty is a fan a true reds fan so his frustration gets let out on air sometimes i dont have a problem with it. But this whole anti marty sentiment is getting ridiculous the guy is a cincinnati treasure. I for one dont want an announcer who says exactly what owners ask suck ass to all the players i have mlb.tv and i get tired of all the generic announcers. People also tend to forget that when marty said votto was no longer elite that he wasnt and had not been for 3 years. He came out just few weeks ago talking about how votto is elite again and its good to see that his is back to his pre inury form. It just seems like people are so sensitive these days i mean the reds the way they are run everything is frustrating and marty is a fan i just honestly dont get the marty bashing cause hes just as frustrated as us. and ya a lot people have bashed marty but its all coming from the church of metrics group. Marty is a very smart baseball mind this whole idea that unless you make all your judgements by looking at baseball reference and any other opinion is wrong is ridiculous and saying anything negative about the players i just dont agree. Marty has earned the right he also came out saying he doesnt get why billy has not tossed switch hitting and also said he didnt get why price already appointed cozart starter with way saurez is playing. Technically he threw billy and cozart under the bus but at the end of the day marty is a reds fine not just an announcer and that frustration sometimes comes thru in his broadcast. I just dont think its fair to hold every little thing he says against him forever i dont get it what so ever. And if you think uucker and scully never call out players and the team u have not listened to them very often. Not to mention scully is imfamous for talking about how boring metrics is for most fans and how hes not going to bore you with o b p s l g w a r o p s. Im sorry but i for one am getting tired of the anti marty sentiment. When hes gone and our announcers are scared to even question why our manager did something then u will realize how lucky we are to have the hall of famer

      • Matt WI

        First, saying things like “all your judgments by metrics” is unfair and unfounded to the vast, vast majority of people who appreciate those things. It’s not all or nothing, and seldom do people ask it to be, especially around here. Sometimes Marty says things that are factually, rationally wrong or biased, but “he’s earned the right…”

        Second, I wonder if you just haven’t been reading Redleg Nation all that long if you think frustration with Marty is new to the Votto comment. It became a lightening rod to the larger issue this year, but his general attitude issues harken back at the very least to the days of Adam Dunn bashing. Nobody says he has to shill a polly-anna package for fans, but it’s in the how he says things that needs to change, not necessarily the what. A lot of it is just tone.

        And I have listened to Ueker quite a bit, hardly nothing on Scully for two decades, so I got nothing for Vin. There’s a way to acknowledge a guy is struggling and not have to say something along the lines of “this guy looks like he has no idea what he’s doing out there, and here we go again, he’s failing.” In his role, he has the power to create a narrative and I think he misuses it these days.

        If there were an animosity scale for broadcasters, Marty is a 10/10, Ueker ranks like a 3/10. This isn’t to say there aren’t things Marty does exceptionally well, but he’s a different broadcaster in the last 10 years than he was in the 80’s and 90’s when I was listening.

      • lwblogger2

        It isn’t just the metrics guys. I believe that metrics are a large part of the game today and in evaluation today but I’m still a traditionalist in many ways. I’m not sold on WAR for example and disagree on evaluating players mostly on WAR. I also will argue the merits of defensive metrics in many cases. So, I wouldn’t call myself a metrics guy.

        I am however, one of the growing legion of Reds’ fans that are very, very tired of Marty’s constant negativity towards the team and its players. Calling out a bad play is one thing but constantly bashing players and seemingly having agendas against certain players are another thing entirely. Vin Scully isn’t like that at all. He’s a traditionalist and I adore listening to him call a game. He’ll call out a bad play but he never makes it seem personal. He also isn’t constantly negative towards the team he works for and the players that are employed along with him. This is the case even with some underperforming, high-payrolled, Dodgers teams.

        Marty at times is still a fantastic announcer. When he’s calling the action on the field, there are very few better. He just seems to do that less and less while putting more and more of his personal feelings and general negativity into the broadcasts. It isn’t about his dislike of metrics. It’s his attitude and the amount of enjoyment he sucks out of broadcasts for me these days

      • jdx19

        He does? I’ve listened to 6-7 Scully games this year and I haven’t heard a single time where he dumps on metrics. He doesn’t use them, true enough, but that is very different than dumping on them.

        In contract, I’ve heard Thom say something to the effect of “Keep your FIPs and your WARs… The ‘win’ is the single best way to evaluate a pitcher. Because after all, it’s a pitcher’s job to win games.”

        THAT is dumping, I’d say. And completely ignorant, beside the point.

  6. Matt WI

    Great call on Dan Patrick, Mr. Elliot. Fun idea.

  7. lwblogger2

    Neat idea about Dan Patrick. I wonder if he could do play-by-play though? For baseball, it should be easier than say basketball or hockey where the action is non-stop and quick.

    Not sure about Larkin as the analyst. Morgan was a very good one for many years though. Larkin certainly knows baseball. Honestly though, I like Brantley’s analysis.

  8. another-bob-in-nc

    For announcers, I vote for Howard Stern and Cincinnati native, Jerry Springer. They’d bring in a whole new demographic. (Before the negative comments, the above is just a poor attempt at humor.)

    • Matt WI

      Ha. Would Springer announce paternity test results for players on the air? Look out!

  9. jdx19

    Although I don’t agree with his non-sports views, Keith Olbermann when coupled with Dan Patrick on SPORTSCENTER was my favorite sports duo of all-time.

    I love the Dan Patrick idea, and I like Barry Larkin enough as a player and person to give him a try out, as well!

  10. mtkal

    Vin Scully is well known among a lot of Dodgers fans I know for putting down metrics a lot.
    I don’t keep up with what all the metrics and analytics actually mean and stand for, but I certainly hope my team makes use of them along with other tools to evaluate players, and make other decisions.
    I’ve lived “out of ear shot of Reds’ radio for about 25 years now and looking forward to moving back “Reds’ Country” in a few months. I’ve moved around quite a bit primarily in the northeast around areas like Phily, NY, Washington and Boston and it still amazes me how many people outside of the Cinci area absolutely love Marty and think he is one of the best broadcasters out there. I know a lot of people who chose to listen to the Reds’ broadcast on MLB.com when the Reds play their team.
    I grew up listening to Marty and Joe, and I am looking forward to getting to listen to Marty again next season. It’s tough for me to disagree with what more than one fan of other teams have told me. You just get a very good picture of what is happening with Marty calling a game you can’t see. I don’t feel a need to disagree with everything he says any more than I need to agree with everyone on here. I enjoy listening to Marty describe Reds’ games and I enjoy discussing Reds’ games with all of you.