Longtime Chicago broadcast media analyst Robert Feder reports that the choice for Pat Hughes' WGN partner is down to two men:
Todd Hollandsworth and Ron Coomer appear to be the last men standing in the search for Pat Hughes’ new partner in the Cubs radio booth, according to insiders at WGN AM 720. Both former Cubs-turned-broadcasters are said to be at the top of the list to replace Keith Moreland as color analyst alongside play-by-play announcer Hughes. Moreland, who succeeded Ron Santo in 2011, announced last month he would not return next year, citing a desire to spend more time with his family in Texas. Barring a last-minute change or late entry, sources said, the decision is expected to come down to Hollandsworth or Coomer. Bosses of the Tribune Broadcasting news/talk station hope to fill the job in time for the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings next week.
Like Moreland and Santo, Hollandsworth and Coomer both played for the Cubs, though both fairly briefly: Hollandsworth for a little less than two seasons, Coomer for just one. Coomer is a Chicago-area native (graduated from Lockport Township High School after attending St. Rita's for his first two HS years). You're probably familiar with Hollandsworth's work as a pregame analyst (and occasional game commentary fill-in) for CSN Chicago for the last five years. Coomer has been an analyst for Twins games on Fox Sports North (also mostly pre- and postgame) for several seasons.
Either, in my view, would be a good choice; both are good broadcasters and have a good understanding of baseball analysis, the Cubs, team history and culture, and would work well with Pat Hughes.
Feder makes one further interesting note:
Since the coming season appears increasingly likely to be the Cubs last one on WGN, the new color analyst’s contract is expected to be transferable to the team’s next radio outlet.
WGN radio's contract with the Cubs, as does WGN-TV's, ends after the 2014 season, as I wrote in October. There doesn't seem to be another AM radio station in the market that would both be available nor be able to afford the type of radio deal the Cubs would likely be seeking. WSCR carries White Sox games. WMVP (ESPN 1000) has commitments to national shows that they aren't likely to set aside for Cubs baseball. WBBM isn't likely to want to blow out its news programming 162 times a year. The Cardinals discovered, several years ago when they left KMOX for a station with a lesser reputation and smaller coverage area, that their radio ratings suffered.
I understand that for many, especially Cubs fans scattered all over the country, it doesn't matter what station carries the games, since they are listening on their computers, iPads or phones. But like the WGN-TV deal, the identity of the Cubs has been connected with WGN radio for so long -- since 1957 -- that it would seem to me that it's important both for the team and the station to continue their deal.
As always, we await developments.