The Journal-Sentinel is reporting this morning that the Atlanta Braves will consider long-tenured Brewers play-by-play man Jim Powell to fill their radio broadcasting vacancy. The Braves’ Skip Caray (as well-known and beloved as our own Bob Uecker down south) passed away last summer, and Pete Van Wieren abruptly announced his retirement.
I know I’m not alone in saying that I’ve grown to love Jim Powell on the Brewers Radio Network as much as Bob. I can rememeber when Jim first came to Milwaukee for the 1996 season. It was an adjustment for Uecker and the listeners after a long run with Pat Hughes in the broadcast booth. Over time, the rapport between the broadcasters grew, and now it would be tough to count the memorable moments Jim and Bob have shared on the air (for me, many of them are marked by Jim’s uncontrollable laughter at another of Bob’s deadpan, self-depricating jokes).
Personally, I’ve also grown quite fond of Jim’s play-by-play style. He never misses a beat in the action, but he also manages to instruct and enlighten the listeners in the finer points of the game on a nightly basis. I’ve learned more about managerial straegy, the baseball rulebook, and various players’ approaches at the plate or on the field (and truly enjoyed it!) just by listening to Jim than I could have by reading a mittful of books on baseball. Not only is Jim a sharp baseball guy, but his partner’s comedic timing and bone-dry delivery has rubbed off during the past 13 years. They both make the broadcast enjoyable even when the game is a blowout, or when the team is not very good.
In offering Jim a chance to work in Atlanta for the Braves, geography has to be their ace in the hole; Jim is from Georgia, and has spoken on air time to time about his youth spent listening to Braves games on the radio. You can’t fault a guy for jumping on what would probably be a dream job.
However, if the Brewers have any chance of retaining him, I really hope they make a push to do so. Once again, I’m not alone in thinking that it would be great to have a familiar voice to tune in to after Bob retires (not that there’s been any indication he will any time soon, but he is turning 74 this month). If one of the issues at hand is money (and why wouldn’t it be), the payroll situation for the Brewers’ broadcast team is probably a stumbling block. Powell is paid by WTMJ radio, and Uecker is employed by the Milwaukee Brewers.
Granted, I don’t have any “inside knowledge,” but it takes only a slightly-more-than-casual listener to recognize that 620 doesn’t appear to have a ton of cash to thrown around on talent. They’ve let people go pretty regularly over the last few years, they went to syndication in their 8-midnight timeslot, and Journal Communications (the parent company) also canned the entire on-air staff at WKTI and switched formats shortly before the end of 2008. Personally, I would like to see some effort made by a consortium of WTMJ and the Brewers to try to hang on to Jim. The effort may prove futile, but it would be nice to know that they at least asked what it would take to keep him.
Boy, there are a LOT of changes coming down the pike for the 2009 Brewers…