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January 19, 2011 at 11:57 AM

M’s make broadcasting decision: Will use revolving team of announcers to fill Niehaus spot

The Mariners have decided to go with a committee of announcers to replace the legendary Dave Niehaus in the 2011 season. I wrote about this tentative plan a couple of weeks ago, but now it’s official, says Randy Adamack, the Mariners’ vice president for communication.

Rick Rizzs, Niehaus’s partner for 25 years, will become the lead radio announcer, while Dave Sims and Mike Blowers will be almost exclusively on television. Rizzs will be teamed on radio with a variety of partners, all of whom have called Mariner games in the past. The confirmed list currently includes Ron Fairly, Ken Levine, Ken Wilson, Dan Wilson and Dave Valle, and could expand by a couple of names.

“We felt that the smoothest transition would be to have a rotation of our former announcers, who people in this market are familiar with,” Adamack said. “We’ll move forward in that direction in 2011, and treat it as a transition year for us.”

Adamack said that this format will “most likely” be for just one season. It was decided that the prospect of “replacing” Niehaus would be too daunting for a new hire.

Niehaus always worked on both radio and television during each game, mainly because of his popularity. The Mariners have decided to now keep the broadcasting teams separate, for the most part, though it’s possible that on rare occasions Rizzs will work on television, or Blowers or Sims will work on radio.

It’s possible that Rizzs could do play-by-play for all nine innings when paired with someone without play-by-play experience, such as Dan Wilson. But when teamed with an experienced play-by-play man, he will get some breaks during the game, or be the secondary announcer for a few innings.

The logistical challenge now for Adamack is figuring out the schedule for each of the part-time announcers.

“Mostly, we’ll go week by week, or homestand by road trip,” Adamack said. “I’m in the process of doing it now. My best guess is there will be some adjustments after the season starts.”

The Mariners received numerous applications after Niehaus’s death, at age 75, on Nov. 10, but never interviewed any potential replacement candidates.

“We weren’t going to do that until we decided how we were going to be structured,” Adamack said. “If we had decided to go in a different direction, then we would have started the interview process.”

Adamack said the announcers he contacted were very receptive to the idea of joining Rizzs on a rotating basis.

“They were all appreciative of the concept,” he said. “They were all very much team players in saying if there’s something we can do, tell us what it is.”



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