Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Minor-league PR chief helps with visiting team's radio broadcast

HighBeam Research

Title: 'Voice' of the Cougars reaches out to Iowa.(Sports)

Date: 8/5/2000; Publication: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL); Author: Bush, Joe
For the last three days, Kane County media-relations director Marty Cusack has been a member of the media.
Cusack, an original member of the Cougars front office, sat in on three of the four broadcasts of the Cedar Rapids Kernels flagship station, KCRG. Play-by-play man John Rodgers and Cusack have been friends since Cusack saved Rodgers' bacon in Rodgers' first visit to Elfstrom Stadium, in 1996.
"I forgot my (radio) equipment," Rodgers said before Friday night's game. "I don't know how he did it but at the drop of a hat, he got me (equipment). I've always been grateful to him for that."
Rodgers has had Cusack as a pre-game show guest in the past, but this series marked the first time Cusack has provided commentary during games. The cosmopolitan Cusack, who has toured China as well as England three times, ensured a discussion of many subjects other than the on-field action.
"John's a great guy, he's a smart guy, very interesting, he likes knowing about different things," Cusack said. "After a radio guy's seen these guys for 120 games straight, he may need another perspective. So we talk and we bounce ideas off each other."
In between pitches - especially during the Cougars' 11-2 win Wednesday - the pair engaged in the lively art about the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and his Democratic machine (Cusack is a Chicago native), a theory from an evolutionary biologist about why there are no more .400 hitters in the major leagues, and nearest and dearest to Rodgers' heart, the Kernels' stadium issue.
Veteran Memorial Stadium was built in 1949, and though it is not the oldest park in the Midwest League (Quad City's John O'Donnell Stadium, 1931), it is one of the most outdated.
"It's in bad, bad shape right now," Rodgers said. "We haven't made improvements recently because we keep saying 'Why put money into something that's going to be leveled, hopefully, in the next year or two?' "
The club's ownership group wants to build a stadium, and has $3 million from the state of Iowa towards that plan. An Aug. 15 vote will determine if a four-year levy - essentially a $13 annual increase in the average homeowner's property tax - will provide another $4.8 million.
"It's a fairly-small cost to pay for the benefit you'd get," Rodgers said. "If that passes, nothing'll stop us."
Rodgers was most happy to have Cusack on as a neutral supporter of minor-league ball. Not only did Cusack provide a solid knowledge of the minor leagues - he was an assistant general manager or general manager for two seasons in two towns before coming to the Cougars, and has been to every Midwest League town - he argued against academic theories which downplay the economic effects of a team on a community from professors who, in Cusack's words, "are full of it."
"They sit there and look at numbers but never get out," Cusack said.
Rodgers ate up Cusack's views, and said his the KCRG audience did as well.
"Marty's provided a real objective, non in-the-fray view of why professional baseball is real important to a community," Rodgers said. "I think our listeners have appreciated hearing that because sometimes when you're in the heat of the battle, you don't realize ... some of the things he said to our listeners I think struck a chord because they come from a guy who's visited our city and seen what a wonderful old ballpark we have, but he's also seen how you have to keep up with the times."

COPYRIGHT 2000 Paddock Publications
This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.  All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

This document provided by HighBeam Research at http://www.highbeam.com

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