After a hiatus I am proud to say we are back with another great interview, this time with Andy Masur of the San Diego Padres. You can follow him on twitter:
@PadsCast or on his own blog Masur’s Musings here: http://www.andy-masur.blogspot.com/.
How long have you been in broadcasting?
I have been in professional broadcasting since 1990, doing various things in the industry. Started out as a top 40 DJ, in Peoria, IL. I worked the overnight shift from 12midnight-5:30am. Moved up to night jock, then got out of top 40. Went home to Chicago and did traffic reports for several different stations in the market. From there I went on to work for the then One On One sports network, doing updates and hosting a weekend show. I then became aware of a job opening at WGN radio and I was fortunate to get the gig. I did Cubs pre/post and some play by play there as well. Then the opportunity to move to San Diego came up and I’ve been with the Padres since the 2007 season.
When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I knew at a very young age. My parents tell me stories of me coming at them with an old cassette recorder microphone wanting to interview them at age 3. They would see me coming and run! I guess that was the first sign that I would get into this industry. I listened to a lot of radio growing up. I would see which out of market stations I could pick up on my radio at night and I would call the stations. KDKA out of Pittsburgh was one of those stations. I was just a radio geek.
Being from the Chicago area, were you at all influenced to go to Bradley because of Jack Brickhouse who called games for many years with the Cubs?
Jack Brickhouse was really my inspiration for going for it. I would watch him not just do play-by-play, but do those dugout interviews, with Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and my late friend Ron Santo. That’s what drew me to the business first, the interviewing style and skill that Brickhouse showed. Then of course there was his infectious calling of the games and I was hooked. Jack didn’t influence my decision to go to Bradley, but it was a happy coincidence. Didn’t hurt that Chick Hearn went there, Vince Lloyd (another former Cubs broadcaster) worked in Peoria and of course now Charlie Steiner is working in MLB along side. Pretty cool.
What was it like to work alongside the legendary broadcaster and icon Dick Enberg?
I don’t work with Dick Enberg much, as a matter of fact, two years ago, I would fill in for him on about 40 broadcasts on TV. When I did have the chance to work with him, while filling in on Pre/Post telecasts, it was pretty cool. Thinking all the time, that “this guy called the Bears SuperBowl win over the Patriots in 1986”. That was pretty cool.
How much time do you spend preparing for a broadcast?
As the years have rolled on, I’ve had to spend less and less time preparing. I don’t mean that I slack off, but now I’m pretty comfortable in my routine. Of course getting the lineups and necessary stats are time consuming but you need them. More of my time “prepping” these days comes by way of talking to players and coaches, getting to know them as people and relating stories about them on the air. I also want to learn more about the game everyday, so the time I spend with our coaches and manager is very valuable to me. I always stay on top of what’s going on in the league, so I have some things to bring up during the game. I like to talk baseball, so to have a bunch of fluff just for sake of having it, is not something I do. So not to dodge the question but my time varies. Now with interleague it may take a little more time to prepare for a team we don’t see all that often and with more games in the division I don’t have to spend as much time in prep mode. I also like to talk to the opposing broadcasters, they have the best insight usually into what’s really going on with their team.
In addition to calling games for the Padres you’ve also been the voice of San Diego hoops for the past 4 years, which is your favorite, hoops or baseball to call?
I have been their “voice” for the past 7 seasons. Prior to coming to San Diego I called Loyola University men’s hoops for 6 years. I love the difference in the pace of the game and believe it or not, the baseball work prepares me for limited down time in hoops and the hoops prepares me for the limited “action” of a baseball broadcast. It’s a nice change of pace also to deal with college athletes. I really enjoy doing both, but I’m a much better student of baseball, so maybe I’ll give the slight edge to baseball.
Who are/were the people you look/looked up to in broadcasting?
We mentioned one already, Jack Brickhouse for sure. Growing up around a big city with all of the major sports covered, I listened a lot to the late Jim Durham doing Bulls basketball. I still use a couple of his descriptors that just came out “foul line extended left” and “rimming…good”. He was really talented. I’d have to say though that my mentor in play-by-play was Pat Hughes. I learned a lot from him without really even knowing it. How to work with a partner that’s a legend, how to keep an audience entertained during a tough year on the field. How to have a good time without getting in the way of the game. Lessons that a lot of young broadcasters can certainly use. Pat is a professional, but has a way of not taking himself too seriously and if he makes a mistake (rare as they are) he pokes a little fun at himself. I really admired that, after all we are not saving lives or splitting the atom in the booth, we are calling a game and he keeps that in great perspective. Jeff Joniak is another guy I really admire. He calls Bears football these days and has been doing it for more than a decade. Jeff gave me my first opportunity to do sports in Chicago. After pestering him and peppering him with audition tapes, he admired my work ethic, and I guess I passed his test. He put me on the air and I wound up doing weekends on the old WMAQ 670 for nearly 3 years before moving on in the industry. I’ve met so many great people in this industry, I know I’m leaving a ton of people out, but there are just too many to mention.
Is there anyone you emulate, and if so in what way?
I’ve always said it’s hard enough to be the first Andy Masur, let alone the next, fill in the blanks. As I mentioned I picked up some phrases from Jim Durham, some nuances from Pat Hughes, but I’ve tried to make them my own. Tried to make them fit my style and flow. I don’t consider it stealing from these guys, I feel like they’ve showed me the way, now I’m taking some of those ingredients and mixing them with mine to come up with what I do. Be yourself, it’s so important.
Other than San Diego what is your favorite baseball stadium to call a game from?
Being a little biased, I love calling games at Wrigley Field. Having grown up there, it’s always a special occasion for me to be able to call a game there. I love AT&T Park in San Francisco too. There’s always a great energy in the building and the setting is just beautiful right on the bay. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is really nice, except that our booth is above the upper deck, which always makes it interesting, but it’s a great ballpark. Got to call a game at the old Yankee Stadium and a couple of years ago at Fenway Park, so it’s hard to argue against them as well.
What is your favorite on air story you can share with us?
There are far too many to limit to just one. Remember I worked with Ron Santo who during the national anthem at the old Shea Stadium had his hairpiece catch on fire. Now I work with Jerry Coleman who always makes things interesting for me in the booth. Every day in the broadcast booth is a great day, and the best part is, no two days are ever the same. You’re bound to come to a game and see something you’ve never seen before. I say it all the time on the air, but it’s one of the best things about my job. Sorry to dodge that one, but again to be fair there are just too many things to mention.
If there is anything else or any stories you really want to share please feel free to do so.
I just feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had so far. There are many big events that I’ve been around and have called for a living. So I’d say to those aspiring to join me, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. It’s going to take some work, some luck and some determination if you want to make it. Remember, the pay is not what you get into it for it’s the love, the passion for the craft and for sports. No shortcuts, no half way, jump in with both feet, it’s the only way to succeed.
Thank you Mr. Masur for being a part of the series of interviews here again. Don’t forget if you’d like to see someone interviewed or would like to be interviewed yourself please don’t hesitate to tweet me @michaelhirnpbp