Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall admits he gambled a bit by hiring Steve Berthiaume to be the play-by-play announcer for the team’s broadcasts on FOX Sports Arizona before the 2013 season.
The team had just dismissed Berthiaume’s predecessor, Daron Sutton, for “philosophical differences,” and also booted color analyst Mark Grace due to Grace’s legal troubles. Hall managed to snatch broadcasting veteran and former Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly away from the Chicago Cubs to replace Grace, but paired him with a relative play-by-play newcomer in Berthiaume, a veteran of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.
“We were definitely taking a risk,” Hall said. “The time that I spent with Steve I could tell he had tremendous knowledge about baseball. He had the background of Baseball Tonight, a deep passion for it. It was his dream to be a play-by-play announcer. So I knew he would work hard at it.”
Three years into the Brenly-Berthiaume partnership, things seem to be going swimmingly. (Regardless of what you thought about their extended selfie riff a few days ago.) Diamondbacks broadcasts have been the most-watched primetime programming in the Phoenix area all year, and ratings are up 20 percent over last year. FOX Sports Arizona’s June broadcasts were the best for that month since 2007.
It didn’t gel immediately between the pair. Chemistry takes work – Brenly thinks it takes about a year for a broadcasting duo to learn each other’s rhythms –and Berthiaume lagged far behind Brenly when it came to experience calling games.
In their first season together, Berthiaume’s instincts were still in studio-show mode, where “dead air is death.” He would cram the broadcast with too much information, and had yet to find a natural way to work in Brenly’s analysis.
“Sometimes it felt a little too forced,” Brenly said. “(Later) we got to the point where he was doing his thing, covering the play-by-play, giving the nuts and bolts and I would jump in wherever I thought it was appropriate. The times that he does lead me in now, it’s because he wants to know something. Not just to put my voice out there on the air.”
Or as Berthiaume put it: “I have tried to adjust and learn when to just shut the hell up.”
Brenly honed his craft over years, but Berthiaume has given himself a crash course. After each night’s broadcast wraps up, he heads home to watch four or five innings of it. Then he watches parts of several other games, looking for ideas on how to get better.
Now the sum of their parts equal a team that has gotten good reviews from the likes of The Sporting News and AwfulAnnouncing.com. Berthiaume is the self-described baseball geek with an endless supply of historical tidbits about the game. Brenly has a deep knowledge of how the game is played, and a million different stories from his days as a player and manager. (Many of them unfit for the airwaves, he pointed out.)
Brenly calls Berthiaume “Partner” more often than when they began.
“The two mesh so well together,” Hall said. “I think they complement each other perfectly. I think they’re a fantastic team.”
Berthiaume just had his contract extended for unspecified term, although Hall said it covers at least the next two seasons. The ESPN vet feels the risk he took leaving the East Coast, where he’d spent the first 25 years of his career, has been completely worth it.
“It’s the best job in the world,” he said.
Brenly’s deal has two more official years left on it, although it’s expected he’ll have the freedom to stick around beyond that so long as he’s interested.
There’s always the danger that a team could come sniffing around Brenly as a managerial candidate, but the 61-year-old thinks those days are behind him. The last two times he interviewed to return to the dugout – with the Cubs in 2006 and the Brewers in 2008 – he felt like he was “just filling out the dance card.”
Perhaps one of Major League Baseball’s national broadcasting partners comes calling – Brenly has plenty of experience at the national level with TBS and FOX – but he insists he prefers the pleasures of following one team all year long. (His contract does allow for occasional appearances on national broadcasts, something Hall feels only brings more exposure to the Diamondbacks.)
“I like where I’m at right now, I enjoy what I’m doing and I like the people I’m working with,” Brenly said. “I’m not looking for anything.
Credit to the Arizona Republic who originally published this article
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches
FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.
The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.
USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.
While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.
Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.
Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz Announcing World Cup, NFL Thanksgiving Games For 18 Straight Hours Thursday
With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.
With the World Cup happening at an unprecedented time, there were bound to be scheduling conflicts. The conflicts for Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz, however, might be the real unprecedented nature of the event being played in November.
Gurwitz works on Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup while calling matches as the secondary play-by-play announcer. Beginning at 11:00 AM in Doha, Gurwitz will work the network’s coverage of the event.
But as the soccer day turns to tonight, Gurwitz will call Telemundo’s broadcast of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings game from Qatar. With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.
He will also do the feat again on Sunday, as he’ll broadcast World Cup matches for the network during the day and then announce the Packers and Eagles game for Sunday Night Football.
Kevin Burkhardt: ‘Honor To Be In People’s Homes’ During Thanksgiving Broadcast
“There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool.”
On Thanksgiving, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will call their first Thanksgiving Day game for FOX when the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET). It’s been a memorable year for Burkhardt and Olsen in their first year as the A broadcast team for FOX that will end in the duo calling the Super Bowl in February.
Burkhardt was a guest on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast this week and talked about the honor of getting the chance to be on the call for a Thanksgiving Day game.
“The whole job is big and we are doing big games every week. There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool. One of them was Dallas-Green Bay, which turned out to be epic a couple of weeks ago.
“The playoffs and the Super Bowl will be great, but Thanksgiving Day. Growing up in a football family, it was kind of eating around both games. Catch the early game, halftime, go throw the football in the street, eat the meal between games, then the Cowboys game comes on, you watch that. Maybe halftime you watch or maybe you throw the football again. Watch the rest of the game, you have dessert after the game. That was the day.
“It is an honor because you are in a lot of people’s homes every week. I feel like you really are in people’s homes…. You are kind of like hugging everybody. I think it’s beyond awesome, I really do.”
Burkhardt mentioned to Schrager that he and Olsen knew they had big shoes to fill after taking over for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (both now at ESPN) and it felt like walking in to a new job, but the A crew at FOX helped them and he liked that he and Olsen got to do it together.
“It’s been awesome. It really has. When you go into a situation like this, Joe and Troy were there for 2 decades, that’s a long time. People have long-standing relationships. Even though I’ve been at FOX for 9 years and Greg was there last year, we are the new guys essentially.
“You walk in, you don’t know how they are going to react to you, what they are going to think of you, if they think you are any good and all that stuff. From Day 1, it was like welcome to the family, we love you. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s been awesome. It felt like we’ve just fit right in. I think there’s been some cool symmetry, the fact that Greg and I got to do it together because we have such a bond.
“The fact that we got to jump in together I think has kind of been fun and helped us both because he knows me really well and I know him really well. Then, it was just getting everyone else to know us and vice versa.”
The one thing that Burkhardt did have to adjust to was a different style of show and that each production team has different viewpoint and creativity.
“The crew I’ve been on my whole life with Pete Macheska and Artie Kempner, they do a different show than Z (Richie Zyontz) and Russo (Rich Russo) do it. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone has different viewpoints and creativity. I think it was just getting used to each other in terms of that, but it’s felt like I’ve worked with them for 25 years. It’s felt seamless. It’s felt fun.”
Even though Burkhardt is now the lead NFL play-by-play voice for FOX, that doesn’t mean he is going to change how he does a game.
“I’m not going to change my style or who I am. I’m not saying I’m not open to critiques and wanting to get better and to get coached. The basis of what I do and how I do it, I’m not going to change that now because I’m on the A crew. They liked me enough to put me here, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe tweaks here and there, but if I radically changed now, I’d be a moron.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.