Andy Masur has covered Chicago baseball north to south, with a trip west in between

White Sox’ new radio voice is on a prestigious list of broadcasters who have called Cubs and Sox games. But making it was no walk in the park.

SHARE Andy Masur has covered Chicago baseball north to south, with a trip west in between
D9FF1003_B8FE_4F6A_8080_6226FF1B4399.jpeg

Andy Masur worked in the Cubs’ radio booth from 1999 to 2006. He joined the White Sox’ booth in 2018 and will be the play-by-play voice this season.

Provided

There aren’t many broadcasters who have called games for the Cubs and White Sox, and among those who have are some of the biggest names in the business.

Hall of Famers Bob Elson, Jack Brickhouse, Milo Hamilton and Harry Caray called the action for both. So has Steve Stone, one of the best analysts in sports.

Andy Masur is on that list, as well.

“It’s a very strange and surreal kind of feeling,” he said.

Masur, 53, worked in the Cubs’ radio booth from 1999 to 2006, handling pre- and postgame shows and calling half an inning to give Pat Hughes a break. Since 2018, he has held a similar role in the Sox’ radio booth.

But that changed Tuesday, when the team announced his promotion to full-time play-by-play duties for the abbreviated 2020 season.

Sox fans already might feel comfortable with Masur, who has hosted the pregame show, called an inning of home games and filled in for former play-by-play voice Ed Farmer and analyst Darrin Jackson. Farmer died April 1.

It’s easy to feel comfortable listening to Masur, who has a soothing tone and professional demeanor. Sox fans might not even care he grew up a Cubs fan in the northern suburbs. But after two seasons on the South Side, it’s clear where his allegiance lies.

“The fandom leaves you when you get into broadcasting,” said Masur, who graduated from Maine East High School and Bradley University. “What I mean by that is, you’re not identifying with the days before you got there. You’re rooting for a bunch of guys that you get to know and really like.

“And, yeah, they’re also employing you. But even if you didn’t grow up a fan of a certain team, you want them to succeed. When they win, your job is so much easier as a broadcaster.”

Masur knew he wanted to be a broadcaster at an early age. While watching ballgames with his parents and grandparents, he’d approach them with a Lincoln Log he imagined was a microphone, only to be rebuffed because they knew a lengthy interview was coming.

That likely had something to do with Brickhouse, whose interviews left an impression on Masur. Brickhouse got to know people, and that’s what Masur wanted to do with an entire team.

But he needed to get his foot in the door. In 1995, he began working for Metro Networks, which was a news, sports and traffic service for Chicago stations. Masur did traffic. In fact, he predated Eric Ferguson on what became the “Eric and Kathy” show on WTMX. “It was me and Kathy for a while,” he said.

Masur desperately wanted to work in sports. Bears radio voice Jeff Joniak was the sports director at Metro then, and it was his job to farm out sportscasters. But Masur needed to put in the work. He’d write sportscasts every day and leave them on Joniak’s desk to be graded like a school paper. Then he’d cut demo tapes for Joniak to critique, sometimes four a week, though Joniak had asked for one.

“A lot of guys might talk about doing it, and they might do it for a couple days,” Joniak said. “This went on for a long time, and those papers came every single day. So finally I put him on weekends on WMAQ. That’s how he bulldozed his way into Chicago.”

A fortuitous encounter led to Masur’s next big move. While covering the Cubs-Braves National League Division Series at Wrigley Field in 1998, he bumped into then-WGN sports reporter Marc Silverman. They didn’t know each other personally, but Silverman had heard Masur’s work.

It left enough of an impression that Silverman let Masur know he was leaving for ESPN 1000 and there’d be an opening at WGN. Masur acted quickly, and after three interviews spanning three months, the station hired him in January 1999.

“It was the greatest thing in the world,” Masur said. “It was the station that my parents, my grandparents grew up listening to and I was listening to. I pinched myself a few times.”

With the Cubs, part of Masur’s job was to travel with former analyst Ron Santo, who had his right leg amputated below the knee and later would lose his left leg similarly because of diabetes. Masur was a saint in attending to Santo, and he handled the pre- and postgame shows, as well. But that work couldn’t compare to what WGN offered him in 2002: the chance to call half an inning of play-by-play every game.

“I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I’d take two outs,’ ” Masur said.

After five seasons, though, Masur thought it was time to show he could handle a full-time job. In 2007, he earned a spot in the Padres’ radio booth and eventually added TV to his duties. For someone who hadn’t lived outside of Illinois and didn’t know a soul in San Diego, the move was nerve-racking at first. But it didn’t take long for Masur to adapt to the lifestyle, and he spent seven seasons there.

The ending was abrupt and surprising. Less than a month before spring training in 2014, the Padres said they wouldn’t renew Masur’s contract and were redefining the announcer’s role. They hired someone to serve as director of content in addition to calling play-by-play.

“I’ve got nothing ill to say about any of those people down there, but they made a business decision that to this day I don’t understand,” said Masur, who was moved to tears by the support he received on social media from fans upset by the decision. “It was an incredibly humbling experience to go through and realize that you made a difference.”

It was equally humbling to be back in the job market, but Masur’s timing couldn’t have been better. WGN had Judd Sirott hosting pre- and postgame shows for the Blackhawks and Cubs. He couldn’t do both with the Hawks in the midst of another playoff run. Remembering Masur’s work from his previous tenure, WGN brought him back. Sirott chose to stay with the Cubs, putting Masur with the Hawks.

That was the Cubs’ last season on WGN. Masur went four years without major-league baseball in his job description, but it never left him. So when word got out that the Sox were moving from WLS to WGN in 2018, Masur made darn sure the station knew he wanted a piece of the action. Management did, and Masur became pregame host, setting him up for a full-time job with a hometown team.

Masur has no guarantees beyond this season, but he’ll deal with that later. He has survived in a tough business by remaining hard-working, humble and personable, and that will ring true in his broadcasts, thanks to lessons he learned from the Cubs’ Hughes.

“I hear a lot of Pat Hughes coming out of me,” Masur said. “The self-deprecation that he uses is because he’s working with All-Stars and Hall of Famers where it’s not always about you, it’s about the game. Never think you’re bigger than the game, never think you’re bigger than the person you’re working with. Just call as clean a game as you can.”

The Latest
The settlement before a lawsuit was filed marks the latest chapter in the story of the now-defrocked priest Daniel McCormack, one of the most notorious pedophiles in the history of Chicago’s archdiocese.
It takes a little time to assemble, so consider the process a meditative exercise with comforting results.
A 7-year-old boy was grazed in a classroom at Disney Magnet School, and two people were wounded near Finkl Academy.
Tatanina Kelly, 28, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of causing a child to be endangered.
J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek star as a small-town Illinois couple with a mysterious portal in the tool shed.