Home Entertainment Wagner out as radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays

Wagner out as radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays

Wagner out as radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays


TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays could have a brand new radio voice subsequent season after rights-holder Sportsnet elected to not renew the contract of broadcaster Ben Wagner.

The community confirmed the choice in a press release on Wednesday.

“After six seasons because the voice of our baseball radio broadcasts, Sportsnet has determined to not renew Ben Wagner’s contract for subsequent season. Thanks, Ben, for sharing your voice and experience with listeners throughout Canada. We want you the perfect.”

Wagner succeeded longtime radio voice Jerry Howarth within the place. Howarth retired in early 2018 after 36 years of calling video games for Canada’s lone Main League Baseball group.

Sportsnet plans to announce its radio broadcast plans “previous to the beginning of the 2024 season,” community spokesman Jason Jackson stated in an electronic mail.

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Interview requests with Sportsnet executives have been declined. A message left with Wagner was not instantly returned.

Earlier than transferring to the massive leagues, Wagner spent 11 seasons as a radio and tv broadcaster for the Buffalo Bisons, the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate. The 43-year-old native of New Paris, Ind., began broadcasting skilled baseball video games in 2004 with the Class-A Lakewood BlueClaws.

Wagner was all the time an early arrival on the ballpark earlier than every Blue Jays recreation. He had a penchant for asking considerate, probing questions to assist strengthen the storytelling on the printed.

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His means to do this was hampered beginning in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the season and compelled broadcasters across the sports activities world to pivot because of journey and entry restrictions.

Sportsnet has but to renew a full-time pre-pandemic setup of standard on-site radio broadcasts of street video games.

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“Radio (play by play) is just not lengthy for this world within the SN ecosystem,” sports activities media analyst Adam Seaborn stated in a textual content message. “Not an space to take a position, to develop or to construct.”

In 2021, Sportsnet determined to simulcast tv broadcasts on its radio community. The much-criticized resolution left Toronto because the lone big-league market with out a devoted radio broadcast crew.

On the time, the community stated the choice to streamline manufacturing was made to reduce journey and intently adhere to group, league, and authorities protocols associated to the pandemic.

Wagner, in the meantime, remained with the printed group by offering dwell hits from the Blue Jays’ non permanent residence of TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., and serving as a contributor to radio and tv segments.

The group later performed residence video games in Buffalo, N.Y., earlier than ultimately returning to Rogers Centre.

In an early-season 2021 interview with The Canadian Press, Wagner stated he had a “wide selection of emotion” when informed of the radio developments for that yr.

“Lots of momentum from this previous low season led to lots of disappointment,” Wagner stated. “I really like the craft of radio. I really like the nuances of baseball on radio, not to mention simply dwell sporting occasions on radio.”

“It was exhausting to not take it personally, however with that then got here alternative,” he added. “(Like) the truth that I’m concerned with the No. 1 product on how Blue Jays baseball is consumed by its fanbase. I’ve been given far more alternative and higher alternative to point out my skillset and do new issues on the identical time on this firm.”

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In 2022, Sportsnet used distant protection for street video games — Wagner referred to as video games from a display on the community’s Toronto studio — earlier than shifting again to conventional in-person broadcasts for a lot of the second half of the season.

Distant protection resumed in 2023 and continued for the complete season. The Blue Jays have been one in every of solely two franchises in Main League Baseball — the opposite being the Los Angeles Angels — that didn’t return to on-site radio protection of street video games.

Seaborn, the top of partnerships at Toronto-based media firm Playmaker Capital, stated having an proprietor (Rogers Communications) that additionally owns the TV and radio community, the stadium and the group “creates a tradition of cost-cutting versus competitors.”

“If the group was owned by a random billionaire, the radio rights would go up for bid each 5-10 years, and the best bidder can be pressured to place a man on the street and put collectively a top-notch broadcast,” he stated.

The Blue Jays will kick off the 2024 common season on March 28 at Tampa Bay.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Nov. 29, 2023.

Comply with @GregoryStrongCP on X.

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press


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