BY John Hickey 05:57PM 01/19/2011

Rizzs will lead M’s radio, flanked by rotating crew

The Mariners will rotate former announcers and former players on the radio broadcasts for the 2011 before making a permanent replacement for Dave Niehaus.

It will take a cast of many to replace iconic Seattle announcer Dave Niehaus in 2011/ Getty Images

Following through on their tentative plans, first published by sportspressnw.com, the Mariners will go with a group approach in the first year of radio and television broadcasts following the death Nov. 10 of long-time lead announcer Dave Niehaus.

Seattle will rely on Rick Rizzs, who partnered with Niehaus for a quarter century, to move into the No. 1 announcer’s role on radio. He will team with a half dozen or so former players and former announcers on the radio side, including Ron Fairly, Ken Levine, Ken Wilson, Dan Wilson and Dave Valle.

It’s possible that list could be expanded. Speculation is that Jay Buhner and Dave Henderson, former players who both live in the area and are who have done broadcasting for the team, may join the group.

Although no plans are firm, each of the rotating group of radio announcers will likely get work on a series-by-series, homestand-by-homestand or road trip-by-road trip basis.

On the television end, Dave Sims and Mike Blowers will get the bulk of the work. At times in the past, Sims has gone between radio and TV, but for now he’s going to be almost exclusively on the television side.

The Mariners are saying that this is a one-year plan only, in large part because Niehaus is considered a regional treasure by baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest and, as such, is virtually irreplaceable, and in part because even if the Mariners wanted to go ahead with a major broadcasting presence, virtually all of the candidates are locked into contracts through the 2011 season.

Fairly was a longtime participant in Mariner broadcasts, heading to Seattle in 1993 after working on Angels and Giants broadcasts following the end of his playing career. He retired after the 2006 season. Although most players do color commentary exclusively, Fairly, who worked on both radio and television, did some play-by-play work as well.

Levine, who did some play-by-play work for the Mariners from 1992-95, has also done work for the Orioles and Dodgers, among other baseball organizations. He’s also made his mark in Hollywood as writer, director and producer with M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier and The Simpsons among his credits.

Ken Wilson was Niehaus’ original partner in the radio booth in Seattle from 1977-82 before moving on to the NHL (the Chicago Blackhawks, then the St. Louis Blues) as well as continuing in baseball (the Cincinnati Reds, then the St. Louis Cardinals).

When Niehaus was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2008, Wilson stepped up to man the Mariners’ microphone for that weekend.

Dan Wilson and Dave Valle, both former Mariner catchers, have spent time behind the microphone, Valle over the last several years while most of Wilson’s work has been in the last couple of seasons.


YourThoughts

  • Sam Chowder

    It’s like when someone had to take over hosting the Tonight Show after Johnny Carson retired. No matter who you are you’re gonna look like last Thursday’s leftovers. I’d genuinely like to wish good luck to a good guy, Rick Rizzs.

  • crow

    we had tuna noodle hot dish last week, and I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

  • Tracey

    Glad to see they’re going to stop switching guys between TV and radio halfway through the game. I always found that odd and it led to some repetition as the person coming in didn’t always know what topics the first person had already covered. Niehaus was in a class of his own and an impossible act to follow. That said, Dave Sims and Rick Rizzs are both great and we’re fortunate to have them.