EDITOR'S NOTE: Please welcome Peter McCleery (former user name: QuincyCub) to the front-page staff. One of the suggestions made in the community forum a few weeks ago was to have articles about the new Cubs radio station and other media. So, Peter is going to listen closely to the Score's coverage of the Cubs and write about that and perhaps branch out to other media-related topics. He's a Quincy native (you might have guessed that from his original user name) who graduated from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and spent 30 years with Golf Digest, eventually becoming a Senior Editor there. He frequently wrote about TV and media coverage of golf, and is happy to now turn his eyes and ears to his favorite team and sport. His articles will (generally) appear here on Mondays.
"You picked a great year to become the radio home of the Cubs." So said a guest during a Barry Rozner segment Sunday afternoon on 670 The Score. The stars appear to be aligned for a perfect marriage, with the Cubs a legitimate championship contender (and in some circles the World Series favorite) switching to Chicago's No. 1 sports station.
But will it be wedded bliss? This observer is a longtime listener of the Score (from downstate Quincy) and a lifetime Cubs fan (since 1970) and will be curious about how several aspects of the union play out. Most interesting will be to see if the Score can transition from being Bears- and NFL-obsessive to serving Cubs and baseball fans year-round.
When last week began and the station was still talking endlessly about the Dexter Fowler surprise re-signing took place, there was plenty of talk about that on the station. Kyle Schwarber turned up for an interesting interview on the Score morning show with Mully and Hanley. And the ever-reliable if predictable Bruce Levine has been in Arizona covering the Cubs and Sox in spring training (more on that later)., I had my doubts. But when the
I will be monitoring the Score's coverage of the Cubs throughout the season and not just the play-by-play broadcasts, which will be basically the same as they were on WBBM 780 last year and on WGN 720 before that. With Pat Hughes teaming with Ron Coomer (and Mark Grote on pre- and post-game coverage), those broadcasts will be essentially the same as they've been elsewhere on the radio dial, I suspect.
Here are some of the other key players to watch at 670 as the Cubs radio debut there approaches this coming weekend (with scheduled broadcasts Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Central time vs. the Reds and Diamondbacks in Cactus League action):
- Bruce Levine, longtime Chicago radio baseball expert
- Jordan Bernfield, co-host with Levine of the weekly "Inside the Clubhouse" showSaturday mornings from 8 to 10 a.m. (bonus time this Saturday till 10:45 is scheduled).
- Grote, a Score employee who appears on several programs to discuss baseball
- David Schuster, versatile veteran Score reporter who specializes in basketball but also works the Cubs (and Sox) beat.
- Chris Rongey, who handled Score's extended White Sox post game chores and did not make the move with team to WLS. He's a solid baseball guy whose work on the Sox was superior to what the Cubs pre and post provided on WBBM, in this reporter's opinion (to quote an old Lou Boudreau phrase).
- Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein, Score's longstanding afternoon team known for being critical of Chicago teams... will they continue that tradition with the Cubs if they stumble out of the gate? It's hard to imagine these two becoming "homers" for the home team.
- Midday hosts Jason Goff and Matt Spiegel, who have conducted weekly interviews with manager Joe Maddon in the past and will presumably continue to do so.
There are other Score personalities I could be forgetting. I don't normally listen to the morning duo of Mully and Hanley. But so far I do have a few nitpicks with the Score's approach to being the "home of the Cubs." For one, I am slightly disappointed they are only airing five spring training games. When the White Sox were on the Score, it seems like the station had far more games on than that.
And second, to truly serve fans, the Score should assign a reporter full time to cover the Cubs, on the road as well as during home games. Levine has been doubling up and basically doing double duty covering the Cubs and Sox when they are home, rarely making road trips.
The Score has dozens of Bears experts who report and appear regularly on various shows. Instead of just juggling all of the usual suspects, I would like to see one dedicated reporter who only covers the Cubs (not counting Grote, who is part of the regular broadcast team). I think this would truly show a commitment to the Cubs and to taking the coverage to another level. What do you think, fellow radio listeners (and Score heads)? Is the Score going to go that extra step or just continue to cover the Cubs as they always have? I know they have expanded the pre- and post-game shows (WBBM barely had time and seemed reluctant to interrupt the news), but I want more, more, more. How about you?