Q&A with White Sox VP Boyer
MLB.com sits down for a chat with member of front office
The potential free agent signings and trades currently being put together by general manager Ken Williams and his staff certainly hold a great deal of interest among White Sox fans during this all-important offseason, following last year's 72-90 campaign.
But that concern shown by the White Sox faithful certainly hasn't been limited to strictly on-field matters. For example, the radio broadcast of White Sox games seem to be a hot-button topic for the organization's supporters.
Many White Sox fans enjoyed the on-air tandem of Ed Farmer and Chris Singleton over the past two years, with the duo gradually developing a chemistry even without great results to focus on in 2007. Yet, a number of White Sox fans also have expressed their desire for a change in this on-air pairing.
Both schools of thought found their way to Brooks Boyer, and quite frequently, at that. The White Sox vice president, chief marketing officer, who also is responsible for the team's relationships with its broadcast partners, sat down recently with MLB.com to talk about this specific discipline of his job.
Boyer spoke on a wide array of topics related to broadcasting, ranging from the decision to bring back Singleton for another year to the specific attributes the White Sox want from their radio and television announcers. Here is that conversation.
MLB.com: You decided to bring back Chris Singleton for the 2008 season and keep the radio team of Singleton and Ed Farmer together. Can you talk about the thought process that went into this particular decision?
Boyer: With the internal discussions we had and the discussions with WSCR [White Sox flagship station 670 AM], we felt that the best thing for the broadcast at this point was to keep some consistency. When you look at where they started, where the team started, where Singleton and Farmer started, and where they have come to, they have made great strides.
Now, for some White Sox fans, that's not good enough. I understand it's a major market. I understand what our challenges will be and what they are. They need to continue to get better and do the three things we feel are key to our broadcast.
No. 1 is teach the game. No. 2 is paint the picture for our fans. No. 3 is sell the White Sox experience.
I've gotten e-mails from fans praising what we have done and fans who have said this is a train wreck. You know, I respect the opinions of these people. It's a situation where you can't make everyone happy.
But our fans are passionate about it, and Ed and Chris understand. All the e-mails I've received, I've printed them out and I've sent to these guys. They understand the responsibility they have and how they will be held accountable for good broadcasts.
Ed and Chris, they are pros, and Chris has gotten much, much better. He would be the first to say his play-by-play work that he does in the middle innings needs to continue to improve.
His inflection and his pauses need to improve. But if you see Chris from last year to this year, or from two years to this year, there is a marked improvement. I think he's going to continue to work at it and get better, and the broadcasts will continue to get better as well.
MLB.com: Does the final decision on radio announcers come from the team, or is it made in conjunction with WSCR?
Boyer: They are WSCR employees, ultimately. But WSCR has input and we certainly have input. I think it would be impractical to say there's one person [making the decision].
[White Sox chairman] Jerry [Reinsdorf] has input and our whole entire executive committee has input into what goes on. It's not WSCR's ultimate call. It's not our ultimate call. There are a lot of factors that play in. There's a lot of information that isn't public that has to play in and weigh on these decisions.
There's a lot that goes into these broadcasts. We feel that with Chris and Ed having the experience now going two years, hopefully a lot of the growing pains are starting to get out of there. When you broadcast a team that played as poorly as we did for such a long stretch of time, it's tough to look and sound good.
I think some of the best work they did was more toward the end of the season. We want it to be more of a conversation more than a straight play-by-play guy and a straight color analyst. Ed has a lot of experience as a color guy. He can add a lot to the broadcast from a teaching perspective, and when he does that, it enhances the broadcast.
MLB.com: During Farmer's years as an analyst, he was considered one of the best in the business.
Boyer: Right, but Ed was brutal when he started. I would be interested to hear how the White Sox fans ultimately reply to this. I think Ed would even say ...
Now, I wasn't here when he started, but all the reports I heard was that he was a butcher when he started. To my understanding, he was at the borderline of average to below average when he started.
He is also a former athlete, so he competes. He works. Now, a lot of the broadcasting is second nature, and Chris is getting there.
Chris has made great strides. I think he will work on some of the things I said before he needs to work on. Our collective feeling is that these guys together give us the best opportunity to have a very good broadcast.
MLB.com: What's your take on Ed Farmer as a play-by-play man on the radio?
Boyer: With what we ultimately want, we want it to be more of a conversation, where you don't have that straight play-by-play man, he's doing what we want him to do.
He does drift. He can talk about St. Rita [High School in Chicago]. He can talk about my [Fighting] Irish. He can talk about golf. Sometimes, these guys forget to tell you what the score is, and we talk about that. But they aren't under any strict format, from A to B to C to D, which we have outlined.
We want to make this a White Sox broadcast for a White Sox fan to listen. They know the score. They know what's going on. They feel like they are there, they are at the ballpark. They hear the picture being painted. But we've got to be quicker.
There are times on the broadcast where you will here the crack of the bat, the crowd reaction and then it's explained. So, I think we are going to work on our delivery. That's not just Ed. That's also Chris.
They both can do this job and they both can do this job well. Building that continuity, my feeling, and I think the feeling of the group is, if you keep getting different people in every other year or every two or three years, it's going to be tough to build that continuity Farmer and [John] Rooney enjoyed because they worked together for 14 years.
MLB.com: When Darin Jackson returned home for the birth of his child, many White Sox fans seemed to really enjoy the work of Steve Stone as a temporary replacement on the television broadcasts. Was there any talk of trying to bring on Stone in some full-time announcing capacity?
Boyer: The best person to ask that is Paul Agase [WSCR general manager/director of sales], if they had any conversations with him.
Steve is obviously a former White Sox pitcher. He knows not only the White Sox, but he also knows the Cubs and many teams around Major League baseball. He knows their farm systems. That's why he was a wonderful sub for DJ when DJ was out.
Who knows what his path is going to be down the road? But he did a great job for us. He's a heck of a broadcaster.
MLB.com: You said at the end of last season how you liked the way Ken Harrelson incorporated Jackson into the television broadcasts and made them a cohesive unit. Did you see that more from the radio team as well?
Boyer: Yeah, at the end of last year, they really started kind of clicking. That's when people probably weren't listening as much. It's human nature to formulate opinions and not give those opinions a second chance. I think if our fans give a listen ...
You know, 2008 is going to be a really interesting season for these guys. I would like to see them really pick up from where they left off, and that was with some pretty good broadcasts.
When I say "I," I'm speaking for the station as well. We want to continue to be the No. 1 sports station in town, and the White Sox have a big part to do with that. We have to put together a compelling broadcast. We have a responsibility to our fans. We have a responsibility to the organization. We have a responsibility to the station.
MLB.com: In talking with Hawk last season, it seems like he's still having fun broadcasting after 18 straight years with the team and wants to continue doing the job. Do you get the same feeling?
Boyer: Yes. As long as he keeps coming up with catchphrases and doesn't swear, we are OK. He's getting close with the dagummits. But Hawk is an institution among White Sox fans. Clearly, you see the reception he gets at SoxFest. Our fans love him, and he still has a lot of passion, and energy. Until those things go away, he's our lead play-by-play guy.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.