Friday, February 4, 2011

Voices of Summer: The Cubs on Radio

     With two feet of snow on the ground in Chicagoland and the temperature straining to get above zero, it seems a good time to turn our thoughts to summer--and baseball broadcasts have been one of the key features of summer for the past nine decades or so.
     The home-team baseball broadcaster has a unique position among sports announcers. None other visits with fans every day for six months at a time, year after year after year. None other is so inseparable from our memories of specific players and games, or of lazy summer afternoons and evenings from long ago. None other becomes virtually a family member for those who closely follow the team.
     The Cubs began broadcasting their games on radio in 1924, on television in 1948. In the early years, the club did not grant exclusive rights to any station, so fans could choose among multiple stations carrying the same ballgame at the same time with with different announcers. WGN has been closely identified with the Cubs for many years, and younger fans might be surprised to learn that it has been the exclusive home of the Cubs on radio "only" since 1959. Both WGN and the Cubs were owned by the Tribune Company from 1981 until the Cubs were sold to the Ricketts family in 2009.
     Below is the complete list of Cubs broadcasters on radio.

Radio Stations
Various, 1924-1943
WJJD, 1944
WIND, 1945- 1958
WGN, 1959-present

Radio Play-by-Play (era of multiple stations)
Hal Totten, 1924-1935 (WMAQ), 1936-1943 (WCFL)
Quin Ryan, 1925-1927 (WGN)
John O'Hara, 1928-1933 (WCFL), 1936 (WJJD)
Bob Elson, 1928-1941 (WGN)
Pat Flanagan, 1929-1940 (WBBM), 1941-1943 (WJJD)
Russ Hodges, 1935-1938 (WIND)
John Harrington, 1937-1938 (WJJD)
Charlie Grimm, 1939-1940 (WJJD)
Jack Brickhouse, 1942-1943 (WGN)

Radio Play-by-Play (era of single station)
Bert Wilson, 1944-1955
Jack Quinlan, 1956-1964
Vince Lloyd, 1965-1986
Dewayne Staats, 1987-1989
Thom Brennaman, 1990-1995
Pat Hughes, 1996-present

Radio Analyst
Bud Campbell, 1951-1953
Bob Elson, 1954
Jack Quinlan, 1955
Gene Elston, 1955-1957
Milo Hamilton, 1956-1957
Lou Boudreau, 1958-1959
Charlie Grimm, 1960
Lou Boudreau, 1961-1987
Jim Frey, 1987
Dave Nelson, 1988-1989
Bob Brenly, 1990-1991
Ron Santo, 1990-2010

Duly Noted: Harry Caray frequently worked on radio for the Cubs during his 16 years (1982-1997) with the club, usually handling play-by-play for three innings per game. He is not listed above because his main area of responsibility was the TV booth. Or was it singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"?

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