The Cubs and Marquee Network say they’re looking for Len Kasper’s successor.
Replacing Len Kasper is hardly what I’d call a desirable task – but that’s what faces the Chicago Cubs and Marquee Network in the days and weeks to come. Of course, Kasper, who joined the organization’s broadcast team 16 years ago, abruptly departed this week to pursue a dream as the new radio voice of the crosstown Chicago White Sox.
Multiple reports on Thursday suggested longtime national broadcaster and Marquee host Chris Myers was the network’s favorite to replace Kasper. The only problem? There was a swift backlash on social media from fans and even other media personalities.
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Of course, soon after, Marquee Network GM Mike McCarthy offered up a statement regarding the search for Kasper’s successor – insisting no decision had been made. Needless to say, this is arguably one of the most coveted jobs in sports media and I’m sure there won’t be any shortage of interested individuals blowing up McCarthy’s phone.
"“It needs to be someone who fits with our culture,” president of business operations Crane Kenney said. “And I mean the Cubs culture, not ownership culture. Because the Cubs culture is very special and as you know something we cherish. So we have a lot of work ahead of us.”"
We’ve seen all kinds of statements, tweets and rumors about the opening. But this one really stands out because it hits the concerns of fans right on the head. Marquee felt very… corporate in its first year and perhaps that’s by design. But it runs counter to what has always made Cubs broadcasts so endearing and welcoming – that neighborly aesthetic that stemmed largely from decades on WGN.
So it stands to reason we’re all concerned ownership will mold the next play-by-play announcer in its own image, regardless of what that means for fans. Kenney’s statement at least lets us know they’re aware of such concerns. Whether or not that’s enough to force them to pivot (if Myers is, indeed, their favorite) to alternatives.
One name that has been mentioned, at least among Cubs fans, is Milwaukee broadcaster and play-by-play man Brian Anderson. He has a familiarity with the team given his role with a division rival and he’s done national broadcast work for more than a decade. But, again, I suspect we’re going to see Marquee go for some primetime names.
For now, the search is ongoing. Replacing someone like Kasper, who broadcast at the Friendly Confines for as long as Harry Caray, is a tall task. Let’s hope ownership and the leadership at Marquee is up for the challenge.