O'Donnell: Masur hoping to bring Peoria magic to Sox radiocasts
THERE APPARENTLY STILL IS a tree with magical broadcast limbs that grows in Peoria.
Andy Masur -- the new voice of the White Sox on WGN-AM (720) -- knows all about it.
The Bradley University grad (Class of '89) will be the latest in a storied line of Chicago baseball air men who tightened their tones in the once-ribald river town.
Start with Jack Brickhouse. Then move on through Vince Lloyd, Jack Quinlan and the absolute essential "Silent" Jack Rosenberg, who for decades served as Brickhouse's second set of eyes, ears and brains in the Cubs and Sox TV booths.
Masur, who grew up in unincorporated Glenview and graduated from Maine East High, respects all.
"To be broadcasting Major League Baseball in my hometown is such an incredible honor," he told The Daily Herald. "There is something so special about sports in Chicago and Chicago fans' passion for their teams."
There is something extraordinarily special about Masur's pursuit of his dream. It hasn't come easy.
His vertical began on WMTH-FM, District 207's low-watt dream weaver that signed on in 1960 with the voice of a Maine East senior named Harrison Ford.
"Our signal was lucky to reach across the street but it was so cool to be on air," Masur said. "One of the first things I remember doing is interviewing my dad, Steve. We had to do a show about current things and it was around April and he's a CPA.
"I had him in answering tax questions. We gave out the phone number, nobody called, so we talked about his job and transitioned to sports."
Suddenly, Masur's dream had liftoff.
He skipped working at Bradley's WCBU-FM ("To focus on grades"), but wound up interning at Peoria launchpad WMBD-AM, the alma mater of Brickhouse, Lloyd and Quinlan. His primary hod carrying was for John Williams, now the late-morning homogenizer at WGN-AM.
Then Masur took his scurrying to the maze known as Chicago radio. He worked as a traffic reporter and caught a huge break when Jeff Joniak tabbed him as a weekend sports anchor at the all-news WMAQ-AM (670).
That showcase led to WGN and work with Pat Hughes and Ron Santo. Finally, in 2007, Masur landed a full-time slot in the broadcast scheme of the San Diego Padres.
"I was there through three different ownership groups over seven years and finally, the third group didn't renew my contract. Devastated, I moved back home and thankfully still had a good relationship with the people at WGN and sports director Dave Eanet.
"He hired me for the second time to help out on Blackhawks broadcasts. There were some lean times until we got the White Sox a few years ago and then to be able to work with the late Ed Farmer along with Darrin Jackson was a great break and one that led to where I am today."
So that magical tree in Peoria -- spawning Brickhouse, Lloyd, Quinlan, Rosenberg and now ... Andy Masur?
"A great list, but I'm not on it," he said. "But to know that you didn't give up and continued to chase a dream is very gratifying, that's for sure."
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• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.