Mariners weighing broadcast options

Mariners weighing broadcast options

Mariners weighing broadcast options
SEATTLE -- Replacing Dave Niehaus doesn't figure to be an easy situation for anyone who steps into the Mariners' broadcast booth this coming season. So it should be no surprise that the club might look at numerous candidates to help fill the shoes of the Hall of Fame announcer.

The Mariners are close to making a decision on how they'll restructure their broadcast team in the wake of Niehaus' death this offseason, with vice president of communications Randy Adamack saying things should be finalized sometime next week.

"We're not trying to replace Dave Niehaus. That's not a realistic thing to do," Adamack said Thursday. "We may for this year just decide to use some of the guys who've worked with us in the past and are familiar with our fans and rotate them, rather than committing long-term with somebody."

Adamack said the club has not interviewed any prospective replacements, but instead has talked about former broadcasters like Ron Fairly, Ken Wilson and Ken Levine, all of whom are capable of handling play-by-play duties, as well as former Mariners who have worked as color analysts, like Dave Henderson, Dave Valle, Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson.

Some or all of that group could be paired with Rick Rizzs in the radio booth on a rotating basis, while keeping Dave Sims and Mike Blowers together primarily on the television side.

Those three all worked in conjunction with Niehaus since 2007, when Sims and Blowers joined the crew. Rizzs has spent 25 years with the club.

Niehaus always split time between radio and television. Since Sims' arrival in '07, he called the first three innings on radio before moving to the TV side for the final six frames. Adamack said that system was used because Niehaus' presence was important to both broadcast partners.

The club now likely will stick with the same announcers on radio and TV for a full nine innings, though Rizzs could do television and Sims could assume radio duties for some games.

"Rick did 15-18 games on TV last year and Sims did radio for a change of pace. I wouldn't doubt we'd do that again some," Adamack said. "But within each game, there'll be no bouncing back and forth. With Niehaus, he wanted to do both and both our broadcast partners wanted some of him on their air, so it made sense for us.

"Now that Dave isn't with us anymore, we think the shows will be better if we just maintain regular teams. That is what most Major League teams have done, but we didn't because of Dave."

The question remaining is who will work alongside Rizzs for the most part. Adamack said once a final decision is made on the structure, then "it'll be a matter of deciding the names of the people."

Henderson, Valle, Buhner and Dan Wilson all have various amounts of experience as analysts over the past decade since retiring as players.

Ken Wilson, 63, was Niehaus' original partner on Mariners broadcasts from 1977-82 before moving on to the Cincinnati Reds and then the St. Louis Blues of the NHL. He filled in for Niehaus in '08 while his former sidekick was being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Levine, 60, is an Emmy-winning television producer and writer who worked as part of the Mariners' broadcast team from 1992-95 and did a temporary fill-in several years ago while Niehaus was on vacation.

Fairly, 72, is a two-time All-Star who is plenty familiar to Seattle fans from his 1993-2006 stint in the Mariners' broadcast booth alongside Niehaus and Rizzs. He filled in briefly for Niehaus last year during a road trip in California and spoke at Niehaus' memorial at Safeco Field last month as a longtime friend.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohns1 as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.