After a year sitting in the back of the booth, Tommy Thrall is looking forward to taking over the Reds' main broadcasting role starting with the weekly Hot Stove League talk show Wednesday, Nov. 6.
"I am very much looking forward to the Hot Stove. When you are doing more of a talk format it can lend itself to bringing out some personality, especially when you get the chance to interact with fans," says Thrall, who did all the postgame shows – and some play-by-play – last season, the final for Hall of Fame Reds' voice Marty Brennaman.
Thrall, 35, joined the Reds a year ago after seven seasons broadcasting radio and TV games for the Reds' Class AA Pensacola. While in Pensacola, he also did college football and basketball play-by-play; TV sports anchoring and reporting; and an afternoon drive radio sports show. Here's a link to my February story, "Meet Tommy Thrall, Reds New Radio Announcer."
"Your personality comes out over the course of a baseball season as well, but a call-in talk show format is certainly a different platform," he says.
Thrall will host the Hot Stove League debut with Reds TV personality Jim Day and Hall of Fame catcher Jonny Bench at 6 p.m. Wednesday on WLW-AM and the Reds Radio Network.
The Missouri native says his first Reds season "far exceeded" his expectations. "The first season was an incredible ride. Working with Marty, Jeff Brantley, Yid (producer-director Dave "Yiddy" Armbruster) and Danny (Graves) and Doug (Flynn) was an absolute blast. They all understand what it takes to have a good broadcast. The game is important, painting the mental picture and keeping fans informed about what's happening with the team and around baseball are vital, but so too is the entertainment factor. And that's a group that knows how to have fun," he says.
Thrall spent a lot of time with Brantley, the Reds radio analyst. "Brantley took me under his wing, because he's the one I'll be working with," Thrall says.
"It was certainly a learning experience, but a lot of fun at the same time. To be a part of the Reds organization and the broadcasting legacy with this team is really humbling and special. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to cover Major League Baseball, but I really feel incredibly blessed to have that chance with the Reds," he says.
During the on-field "Marty Party" after Brennaman's final game on Sept. 26, Brennaman urged Reds fans to embrace Thrall as they had done for him in 1974. Thrall also enjoyed hearing Brennaman talk throughout last season about longtime radio partner Joe Nuxhall, who died in 2007. "I could see first-hand what Joe meant to Marty. The tone of his voice would change when he talked about Joe," he says.
"Marty and the many others that have passed through the booth have set the bar pretty high. I will work hard every night to try to deliver the fans the best broadcast I possibly can. That's what the fans deserve and certainly what they've come to expect," he says.
"Through various Reds functions, I've had the good fortune to interact with a number of Reds fans. I have really enjoyed each meeting and really respect and appreciate their passion for the team and also for the broadcast."
Reds fans will hear a lot of Thrall in the next year. Unlike Brennaman, Thrall doesn't plan to take any vacations during the season.
"The plan will be to call all 162 (games)," he says. "Hopefully we’ll have a few extra games in October as well."