Barry Larkin, John Sadak Begin New Era For Reds TV

Mar 31, 2021

For the first time in five decades, there won't be a Brennaman in the broadcast booth for the Reds Opening Day.

Hall of Fame Reds shortstop Barry Larkin debuts as an analyst on the Reds TV team with new play-by-play announcer John Sadak, a CBS Sports Network and Westwood One radio announcer.

John Sadak.
Credit Courtesy of Fox Sports Ohio

The Reds network has a new name, too. The Fox Sports Ohio name has changed to Bally Sports Ohio, the result of a partnership with the casino conglomerate and Sinclair Broadcast Group, which bought Fox's regional sports networks in 2019.

Reds TV analyst Chris Welsh will be back for his 29th season. He will be part of a three-man booth for the 4:10 p.m. Reds-Cardinals game from Great American Ball Park simulcast on Bally Sports Ohio and WKRC-TV. Opening Day likely will be the only telecast using a three-person booth, Sadak says.

Sadak was hired to replace announcer Thom Brennaman in early February. Brennaman resigned after 13 seasons on Sept. 25, 2020, five weeks after he was removed from a telecast in the middle of a game for making a homophobic slur on-air Aug. 19. Thom Brennaman came home from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 to join his father on the Reds broadcast. Marty Brennaman retired after 46 season in 2019.

John Sadak with former Xavier University coach Pete Gillen doing college basketball for CBS Sports Network.
Credit Courtesy John Sadak

Sadak, 42, has nearly 15 years of minor league baseball broadcasting experience. He also has called NFL games; a few Mets games as a fill-in announcer; and college basketball, football, ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse for CBS, ESPN or Fox Sports. To learn more about him read my "Meet John Sadak, New Reds TV Voice" story from March 4.

"I am as excited and energized as I've ever been in my life to call a game," Sadak says. "Opening Day is one of wonder, hope and joy and nobody does Opening Day better than the Cincinnati Reds." 

Larkin will do all 81 home Reds games on TV. Welsh will do 55 TV games, and Jeff "The Cowboy" Brantley will do 25 TV game, as usual, in his 15th Reds season. For now, road telecasts will be done from Bally Sports Ohio's downtown studio, as last year.

Larkin, 46, a former Reds team captain who played all of his 19 seasons for Cincinnati, has worked as a studio analyst for MLB Network and ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and Baseball Tonight. Opening Day marks his debut as a game analyst.

"I love teaching the game of baseball," Larkin told reporters last month. "I can talk about what's happening, critique the play, and talk about what was attempted to be done in a certain situation.

Barry Larkin.
Credit Courtesy Cincinnati Reds

"You know, I worked with Cowboy. Heck, I played with Cowboy and Chris Welsh, and I'm looking forward to working with both of those because I like talking baseball with baseball guys, and they're both very knowledgeable. (They were) pitchers nonetheless, but still knowledgeable about the game," he said with a laugh.

Welsh, who did two spring training games on radio with Tommy Thrall, will be part of the radio rotation for the first time. He will do 55 games with Thrall when Brantley is off or on TV. When not doing TV or radio games, Welsh will appear on the Reds Live pregame and postgame shows, he says.

Jim Day will be back for his 20th season as the sideline reporter. Day – who filled in on TV during Brennaman's suspension last year, and did radio play-by-play in 2018 after Jim Kelch was dropped – "was never a candidate for the (play-by-play) job, which I'm fine with," Day tells me.

Jim Day did Reds radio play-by-play in 2018, after Jim Kelch's contract was not renewed.
Credit John Kiesewetter

"I will be a part of the broadcast team for every game. And I will be back in my familiar role," Day says. "I set out to be as versatile as possible in my career to match today's broadcasting world, which is the only way for some of us to stay gamely employed. I offer this advice to any aspiring broadcaster: Do it all! They can literally call on me for any role. I'm blessed."

Reds fans also will notice other changes this year. Reporter Jeff Piecoro, former Reds pitcher Danny Graves and Big Red Machine utility infielder Doug Flynn have been dropped from the Reds broadcast team.

The Reds Live pregame show, hosted by Brian Giesenschlag and Sam LeCure, will air 30 minutes before every Reds game all season. It will be expanded to one hour at 3 p.m. on Opening Day. The Reds Live postgame show will air immediately after every Reds game.

Most local morning TV newscast will broadcast from Great American Ball Park Thursday. Reds Live will air 3-4 p.m. Thursday on Bally Sports Ohio and Channel 12 before the game.