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updated: 12/13/2013 8:34 PM

Remembering a sports innovator, Jim Corno

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  • Jim Corno of Comcast SportsNet Chicago

      Jim Corno of Comcast SportsNet Chicago
    Submitted photo

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Inside

Chicago sports television legend Jim Corno has passed away and the end came way too soon for the man who brought the games into our living rooms and saloons for it seems like 100 years.

Corno, 66, had to balance the content between satisfying the station owners -- who also happened to be the team owners -- and the viewers. He was the boss at the station, but everybody knows there is always a higher power.

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Those higher powers he answered to were Jerry Reinsdorf of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox, and William Wirtz of the Chicago Blackhawks.

We are talking stubborn with a capital S. But to Mr. C's credit, he juggled the ball about as good as he could, and he knew when to back off.

There is no doubt there he had more than one or two conversations about the Chicago Blackhawks and home television back in the day. Mr. C knew the station would be more marketable and just plain better with fan favorites such as Chris Chelios and Jeremy Roenick on home television.

For whatever reason, Wirtz just didn't see it and we all know that was a huge mistake. After Mr. Wirtz passed away, Rocky Wirtz's first order of business was hiring John McDonough and putting the Hawks on TV. All it did was make the Hawks recognizable and huge in town!

The White Sox have not been as lucky because they have announcers who aren't allowed to step up and be truthful with the fans. To me, Hawk Harrelson and whoever sat next to him over the years sometimes have lacked credibility with White Sox fans.

As to the strength of Hawk Harrelson, he's as entertaining as they come. I have talked to Hawk many times and he once told me that after a player makes a mistake on the field he believes silence is the great communicator. I have no doubt that for the Sox announcers silence also makes a great employee.

But that wasn't Mr. Corno's philosophy. Jim took chances. After all, he let the ultimate gate-crasher -- me -- co-executive produce the "Monsters in the Morning" show with Jim Corno as the gatekeeper.

"Monsters in the Morning" is still considered by many, including some at Comcast SportsNet, as the best in-house show they ever had.

A bad advertising partner and a high budget for the three-hour live show ended the program after one great year.

I talked with Mr. Corno by email a few times over the last year. We were good, but I felt bad. Did we knock heads sometimes? Oh yeah, but he could give as good as he could take.

I just wish I could talk to him one more time because that would mean he would still be here. Long live the King.

Program notes

I will be co hosting with Andy Furman from 5-8 a.m. Monday through Friday on Fox Sports radio, and back on the air from 9 p.m. to midnight Sunday. Check me out on iHeart radio or FoxSportsradio.com, and follow me on Twitter @north2north.

Listen to The Mike North Pregame Show from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on WIND 560-AM The Answer.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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