Several years ago, Bears radio voice Jeff Joniak was preparing for a game with an ESPN college football broadcast in the background. He was struck by the play-by-play announcer, who kept “popping through the TV,” as he put it.
Joniak kept waiting to hear who it was. Turns out, it was a young man he had met at Soldier Field who was there calling a game for a radio broadcast — Adam Amin.
“He’s got a very distinctive voice, but I just didn’t know he was doing that,” Joniak said. “I didn’t know he was on ESPN doing college football games, and here I come to learn he does just about everything.”
That’s not an exaggeration. Amin has called MLB, NBA and NFL games as well as college baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball and wrestling. He’s ESPN’s lead play-by-play voice for women’s hoops, he called the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4 and he was on the mic for ESPN Radio’s broadcast of the Cardinals-Cubs game Thursday.
Soon he can add Bears preseason games, with the help of Joniak’s recommendation. The Bears hired Amin in May to replace Sam Rosen as their play-by-play voice alongside analyst Jim Miller. After the Bears open the preseason in the nationally televised Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2, Amin will call the next three games, which will air on Fox affiliate WFLD-Ch. 32.
“He’s very talented,” Joniak said. “He calls a game the way I like to call a game. He calls it very exciting. Clearly does his homework. You hear it. I appreciate a very good X’s and O’s broadcaster at this level, and he definitely has that. He simplifies each call so the average person can understand what exactly is going on. As a play-by-play guy, that’s huge.”
The Bears were very pleased with Rosen, but they were looking to refresh their broadcasts to complement their new look on the field. Amin, who was hired by ESPN in 2011 at 24, has a lot of traits they were looking for in a broadcaster. He has a national profile, and he brings energy to his call.
Plus, he isn’t just a fresh face, he’s a local one. Amin was born in Elmhurst, grew up in Addison and lives downtown. He recalls watching Bears games as a child with his father and brothers in the late 1980s.
“We don’t have to explain [to him] what Bears football means to our fan base,” said vice president of marketing and communications Scott Hagel. “A preseason game isn’t just a preseason game. It means more; our fans are into this. And we want to make sure that the person on the air has that feeling.”
Amin’s preparation will ratchet up next week when he attends training camp in Bourbonnais. He already has scouted his partner in the booth, watching preseason broadcasts from last year to get a sense of Miller’s cadence and timing.
“I try to base my call off preparation and working off the analyst,” Amin said. “I think those are the most important things in a television broadcast. You figure out what the analyst thinks is important, and you try to circle around based off that.”
Amin won’t call the preseason finale because of his college football duties. So the Bears will try a different approach for a typically challenging game to broadcast.
Kyle Brandt, who played football at Stevenson High School and Princeton and is a co-host of NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football,” will lead a non-traditional call of the game that will include Miller and one or two others.
“What we’re looking at doing is making that more of a discussion, maybe not as much of what your traditional play-by-play would look like,” Hagel said. “The model that we’ve been paying attention to the last couple years is what ESPN has done during the national championship game with that roundtable with the college coaches.”
The traditionalists in the audience can tune in to Joniak and analyst Tom Thayer’s radio broadcast on WBBM-AM (780) and WCFS-FM (105.9).
BEARS PRESEASON SCHEDULE
Aug. 2: vs. Ravens in Canton, Ohio (Hall of Fame Game), 7 p.m. (Ch. 5)
Aug. 9: at Bengals, 6 p.m. (Fox-32)
Aug. 18: at Broncos, 8:05 p.m. (Fox-32)
Aug. 25: vs. Chiefs, noon (Fox-32)
Aug. 30: vs. Bills, 7 p.m. (Fox-32)
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