Andrew Belleson begins broadcasting pursuit with Windy City Thunderbolts
The former Wrigley Field public-address announcer starts as the Frontier League team’s full-time play-by-play voice Friday night on WXAV 88.3-FM.
When Andrew Belleson left his job as the voice of Wrigley Field last year, people wondered what he was thinking.
“I had a lot of funny looks,” said Belleson, who grew up a Cubs fan in Lombard. “People assumed that you keep that job forever, which obviously a lot of people do. Maybe I’m the -crazy one.”
But Belleson, 35, had wanted to be a broadcaster since he was a kid. As grateful as he was for his 10 seasons as the Cubs’ public-address announcer, he knew time was running out to fulfill that dream.
He’ll take his first step Friday, when he takes over as the full-time voice for the Frontier League’s Windy City Thunderbolts in Crestwood (7 p.m., WXAV 88.3-FM). Belleson had filled in for Connor Onion, the team’s previous play-by-play voice, but Onion stepped away recently because of his growing broadcast schedule.
The job is a homecoming of sorts for Belleson, who for several years as a teenager occasionally joined broadcasts for the Rockford River Hawks, formerly of the Frontier League. He submitted a tape, and team brass let him do some play-by-play and commentary.
“The full-time guys were gracious enough to let this kid hang out, but I could hold my own,” Belleson said. “It was kind of like getting a job without any pay. The experience was invaluable. I loved every second of it.”
At Concordia University in River Forest, Belleson and his roommate were the first to broadcast the school’s athletics on campus radio station WCGR. They called baseball, football and men’s and women’s basketball.
“But I ended up getting hired by the Cubs shortly after college, so broadcasting took a back seat,” said Belleson, who was among 2,954 applicants for the job in 2011. “That was the path I had been on.”
Now he’s back on it.
“I told my wife, ‘Is it going to be an easy path? No,’ ’’ said Belleson, who has the voice to make it. “But I want to make it back to the major leagues as a play-by-play voice. If I didn’t think I had what it took, I wouldn’t pursue this, especially at 35 years old. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity. This is Step 1.”