UP & ADAM: Bulls voice Amin tops 3rd annual Chicago sports-media power rankings

More than 100 radio and TV broadcasters were considered. The top 20 follow, with last year’s rank in parentheses. And, new this year, I included the bottom five. Hey, it’s a tough business.

SHARE UP & ADAM: Bulls voice Amin tops 3rd annual Chicago sports-media power rankings
Adam Amin calls the Bulls-Pistons game Thursday in Paris for NBC Sports Chicago. He’s in his third season with the Bulls.

Adam Amin calls the Bulls-Pistons game Thursday in Paris for NBC Sports Chicago. He’s in his third season with the Bulls.

NBC Sports Chicago

If you follow Jason Benetti on Twitter, you’ve seen his posts with a picture of a stadium floor and a request to share the first person you think of.

Let’s play that game but change the picture. Instead, imagine a Chicago sports broadcaster and what that person brings to mind.

That’s what I did for my third annual Chicago sports-media rankings, which examine the market’s TV and radio sports broadcasters based on appeal, quality, longevity and, of course, personal preference. With the help of a crack support staff, these rankings are even more precise than last year’s.

More than 100 names were considered. The top 20 follow, with last year’s rank in parentheses. And, new this year, I included the bottom five. Hey, it’s a tough business.

1. Adam Amin (2): He was up for Fox’s No. 2 NFL team — which is an achievement in itself — but unfortunately the network chose Joe Davis. Amin is better than him on football and did an outstanding job on the No. 3 crew. He also called an exciting Dodgers-Padres playoff series for Fox. He’s in his third season calling the Bulls with analyst Stacey King, and they have become the most entertaining tandem in town. Amin has a strong voice and is prepared beyond reproach. There isn’t anything he couldn’t call.

2. Jason Benetti (1): It was a big year for Benetti, who was the voice of Peacock’s package of Sunday MLB games, then left ESPN for Fox, where he called his first NFL game on TV. His primary work there is college football and basketball, and Fox is giving him higher-profile football games than ESPN did. He and White Sox analyst Steve Stone form one of the most popular booths in baseball.

3. Pat Hughes (3): Making the Cubs Hall of Fame was nice, but making the Baseball Hall of Fame was incredible. He’s sure to give a wonderful induction speech in July. The Cubs’ radio voice since 1996 has added some TV to his resume on Marquee Sports Network, and he shows no sign of slowing down.

4. Laurence Holmes (7): He went from his own two-hour show on The Score to a four-hour extravaganza with Dan Bernstein that’s the highest-rated sports radio show in town. He also returned to hosting the “Football Aftershow” on NBC Sports Chicago. Add in his podcast work, and Holmes has a media empire.

5. Danny Parkins (6): Parkins is a throwback in sports radio. He has engaged in stunts and antics that conjure memories of radio days gone by. Allowing listeners to see them on The Score’s Twitch stream adds to the fun. He also isn’t afraid to push the envelope or stir the pot. It can make for great radio.

6. Marc Silverman (8): Every “Silvy” rant comes from decades of Chicago sports fandom. Listeners can feel it. He’s patient and polite with callers, and his banter with colleagues shows how tight the ESPN 1000 crew is. He and Tom Waddle are the longest-tenured radio partners in the city.

7. Dan Bernstein (11): When Leila Rahimi left her regular gig on The Score, I was in favor of Bernstein working alone. But he and Holmes (with weekly appearances by Rahimi) have doused that thought. It’s wild to think back to how angry he used to sound. Now he’s more, dare we say, pleasant.

8. Jon Sciambi (4): Speaking of pleasant, that’s exactly how to describe listening to “Boog” call a Cubs game with Jim Deshaies on Marquee. Sciambi also calls plum college basketball games for ESPN, but his big assignment this year will be, at long last, calling the World Series for ESPN Radio.

9. Leila Rahimi (10): The daily gig at The Score ended when she was promoted to lead sports anchor at NBC 5. She also returned to NBC Sports Chicago, filling in for Jason Goff on Bulls pre- and postgame shows. It was like she never left (not that she wanted to).

10. Jason Goff (5): Speaking of Goff, he’s still doing great work hosting the Bulls shows, the best shoulder programming in town. Goff, Kendall Gill and Will Perdue are so at ease on the set, it’s like the cameras aren’t there. After games, you feel like you need to hear what they think.

11. Stacey King (12): You always hear what King thinks, often with his unique flair. He’s great at breaking down plays.

12. Steve Stone (16): Stoney isn’t shy, either, about sharing his thoughts. He’s still one of the best analysts in the game.

13. Ozzie Guillen (18): The Mouth of the South Side is a must-watch for Sox fans after games, particularly tough losses.

14. David Kaplan (9): He’s off TV now, but you still can watch him on YouTube and listen to him on ESPN 1000.

15. Dionne Miller (20): She added to her ESPN 1000 work, hosting a Saturday show with Peggy Kusinski. The ABC 7 anchor tied Guillen as the biggest risers on the list.

16. Len Kasper (17): Put him on Sox radio or TV, and you’ll get a great broadcast every time.

17. Tom Waddle (13): He’s at his best talking about football – not so much the overly personal things he shares.

18. Matt Spiegel (NR): Next month, he’ll celebrate two years in the same time slot with the same partner. That’s perseverance paying off.

19. Chuck Swirsky (NR): He still calls a great game, and his kindness and positivity are unmatched.

20. Zach Zaidman (NR): It’s nice that he’s calling more Cubs games with Hughes moving to TV on occasion, but his DePaul basketball broadcasts are outstanding.

Dropped out: Pat Foley (14), Eddie Olczyk (15), Olin Kreutz (19).


(listed alphabetically)

Colby Cohen: He’s at his best providing analysis between the benches on Blackhawks broadcasts. That has helped a new TV team that’s working out the kinks. But of all the studio analysts in town, Cohen is the only one not connected to the home team, and that matters to viewers. Plus, he didn’t have an NHL career that inspires awe.

Dave Corzine: It’s great that DePaul reached into its storied past for a radio analyst. It’s not great that he sounds like he swallowed a handful of thumbtacks. Corzine’s voice is so raspy, it’s hard to understand sometimes. He’s still tight with the Blue Demons, so don’t expect a change. But one is overdue.

“Mully & Haugh”: Which voice does Mike Mulligan speak with more: The one that growls and guffaws or the one that’s gravelly with a tinge of Bert from “Sesame Street”? David Haugh used to write long for the Tribune. Now he talks long for The Score. His personality doesn’t befit a morning show.

Jim Rose: He has been at ABC 7 for 40 years – and it’s a wonder how. It’s easy to question his preparation from watching his sportscasts. He has mispronounced names, and his voice-overs might not sync with the highlights. Rose’s contract is up in September. The situation bears watching.

Cole Wright: The Marquee host should take a cue from “Hamilton”: Talk less. Wright is a walking run-on sentence who belongs on “SportsCenter” circa 1995. He calls the Brewers the “beer makers” and has renamed Wrigley Field “the federal landmark.” Please, stop. And stop pointing your notecard at the viewers. It’s rude.

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