When a kid grew up in the Midwest, on those long summer nights, the radio became your best friend. Tuning into games from around the various big league cities allowed you to hear some of the greatest broadcast voices in that era. You could tune in St Louis, and hear on KMOX, the Voice of St. Louis, , Harry Carey bring the Cardinal games to you along with Jack Buck and Joe Gargaiola. In Detroit, on WJBK, you could hear the great description of Tiger games by Van Patrick and later, Ernie Harwell. KDKA in Pittsburgh would bring Pirates games to you by Bob Prince. On the South Side of Chicago, Bob Elston gave his unique delivery to the White Sox broadcast over the Voice of Labor, WCFL. On the North Side of Chicago, you always tuned into WGN.
WGN, the Chicago Tribune radio station, brought you Cubs baseball since 1925. It was like peanut butter and jelly. Since Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States, Cubs baseball has been on WGN. They just went together. Beginning with Hal Totten, then Bob Elson, Pat Flanagan, Ronald Reagan, Russ Hodges, Jimmy Dudley, Jack Drees, Charlie Grimm before Jack Brickhouse, the Bert Wilson, and then back to Jack Brickhouse, Bud Campbell was in there as was Harry Creighton. Vince Lloyd came in as did Milo Hamilton. Jack Quinlan and Lou Boudreau were behind the mike. Lloyd Pettit, the great voice of the Blackhawks was there as was Jim West and Joe Wilson. Harry Caray toning ‘It might be…it could be…it is!’ ‘Holy Cow!’ ‘Cubs Wins!’ was there. Steve Stone, Dewayne Staats, Dave Nelson, Ron Santo and Bob Brenly. Thom Brennaman, Pat Hughes, Dan Roan and Josh Lewin. Andy Masur, Chip Caray, Joe Carter, Dave Otto, Len Kasper, Dan Pleasac, Cory Provus, Judd Sirott, Keith Moreland, Jim Deshaies and Ron Coomer. The voice of Jack Brickhouse bringing you the exploits of those lovable Cubbies still rings in my years.
Since 1925 you could tune into WGN. Now, after this season, no more.
Since nobody reads the newspaper anymore, the power of the Chicago Tribune has waned. Now, according to bean counters at The Trib, the Cubs are no longer of financial value to McCormick’s ‘All The News That’s Fit To Print’ domain. The Tribune, whose assets are now delivering circulars as a distribution channel to people who really don’t want more fish wrap and a local television station that now thinks it is a cable network, have dropped both the Cubs broadcasts and telecasts. This in itself is a bit confusing as Cub and White Sox games are huge content fillers. Now, supposedly, people will flock to tune into reruns of ‘Friends’ and ‘Two and a Half Men’ on WGN-TV. Good luck. You’ve just lost four hours per day of LIVE content to fill your independent station schedule. Arsenio is cancelled. You won’t even have him in the evenings any more.
But just like ‘JAG’ fans who were disappointed that NBC cancelled the series, people flocked to the series which spun off ‘NCIS’ when it shifted to CBS. Now Cubs fans will be able to hear their favorite team on WBBM, ‘News Ratio 78’, and it won’t skip a beat. The only looser is that group of dudes sitting in Tribune Tower wishing they could have one of the cornerstone franchises in the world back on their air.
It’s time for Fresh Air in Chicago.