Len Kasper made the media rounds today to announce and explain his shocking decision to leave the Cubs’ television booth to take the White Sox’s radio job across town, and he sounded well aware of the skepticism about what most broadcasters would consider a demotion.
But as sources suggested before the news become official, Kasper said radio is his desired medium at the moment, and offered no evidence of discontent or dissatisfaction otherwise.
“I just want to start by saying 12-year-old Len Kasper is as thrilled as can be,” Kasper told ESPN 1000’s Kap and J. Hood show this morning. “Anyone who’s known me for more than a day in this business understands how I was drawn to the game of baseball. I wanted to be Ernie Harwell … and my baseball broadcasting career took a different turn.”
“At my age, and I think anyone out there who is around 50 or so can understand this, you think about your legacy, you think about things you’d like to before you retire, or before the end of your life, and this was something I’d been thinking about for a long time.”
Kasper had nothing but compliments for the Cubs and the Marquee Sports Network, but he said he’d gravitated toward radio in recent years, showing up to the park during national broadcasts, conducting interviews and doing an inning of play-by-play in Pat Hughes’ booth when his TV services weren’t needed. The radio team doesn’t get sidelined when the club finally gets a piece of the spotlight, and the White Sox are primed for that stage.
Speaking of which, Kasper will be shaving off a slice of Jason Benetti’s spotlight. Benetti is now the second-most renowned TV play-by-play man in the White Sox broadcasting family, even if he’s still the main attraction. He told James Fegan that he couldn’t be more thrilled.
Kasper has been a star of equal or greater measure with a more nationally prominent Cubs team, and now they’ll be sharing the same audience in 2021, with Kasper insisting this fulfills his true passion for radio. It’s a pertinent enough question that the Sox felt they needed to ask Benetti.
“The Sox called me and said, ‘Are you OK with this?’ and I laughed at Brooks,” Benetti said. “Let me be extremely, one million percent clear: there is zero of that at all. And not in a public, outward way, and then grumbling about it later. I love this. I’m so excited to have Len. And with doing things together and having fun and celebrating the joy of baseball and the creativity of baseball, no joke, I cannot be more clear: this is only an amazing thing.”
The biggest risk of this move might be for a segment of Sox fans who haven’t warmed up to Benetti after decades of Hawk Harrelson. Benetti and Kasper are stylistically similar — college-trained, analytically oriented, pop-culture inclined. There are differences to distinguish them, particularly Benetti’s willingness to play Frederic Weis to an organization full of Vince Carters. If Steve Stone isn’t dunking on him, it’s because White Sox players are taking turns throwing down, and I haven’t heard Kasper get that goofy. Still, this is the first full season in forever where a White Sox fan who prefers an ex-player directing the broadcast won’t be able to find one.
Sameyness could be a mild concern, but Benetti and Kasper won’t be short on preparation, especially if and when they’re allowed to roam the clubhouse again. That will be the strength of what this tandem produces. A podcast is planned, perhaps some Twitch streaming, and who knows what else will arise from their plan of sharing a booth for 20 to 25 games. You didn’t have to be a White Sox or Cubs fan for this move to get your attention.
Major-market move. I could get used to this.
Poor Rany, saddled with Rex Hudler all these years despite living in the western suburbs.
It will be interesting to see how Kasper’s radio style differs from what he’s done on TV. Jon Miller, to use one example, is far more animated on his radio calls, and maybe Sox fans who think Benetti and Kasper are similar may notice contrasts as Kasper hones his style to a new medium.
This may be the best set of play-by-play announcers the Sox have had since Harry Caray and Joe McConnell in 1980-81, keeping in mind we’ve been lucky to have the voices of Jim Durham and John Rooney in more recent years.
Anyone know what this Winston Salem business is?
Nope. J.J. Cooper doesn’t think it’s a 120-team announcement, because he figures he’d have more team sources telling him that it’s finalized.
M. Lith? That’s a helluva get. Trained in the arid climate of Utah, he’ll do wonders at W-S.
John McCracken becoming a meme is probably the most pleasant surprise of 2020.
I like the Realmuto comparison, especially because I have a sense of how great he is but he’s also been off in the NL so it’s not like I know the details.
Talk about a position of strength though!
I wouldn’t trade Stone or Bennetti for anyone in any other booth, but now that I have another quality option for radio I can survive those national broadcasts.