Broadcaster Blues After Home Team Leaves Town?
The Broadcasters Blues After The Home Team Leaves Town?
by Chadd Scott reporting for Radio Ink from Atlanta
With the recent relocation of the (NHL's) Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, most of the conversation has centered on the team’s ownership, fans and players. What about its radio broadcasters? Sports Radio 680 the Fan had served as the long-time flagship station for the Thrashers and they fired pre and post-game host Mitch Evans with the team no longer in town. My look at the radio fallout of the Thrashers move begins with an interview I conducted with Evans (pictured below).
Throughout this season as talk of relocation surrounded the Thrashers, how aware were you that your job was dependent on the outcome?
Evans: I was never told that my job was in jeopardy, but I certainly was aware in my own mind that it could be. Since I was also part of the station's (680 the Fan) Braves coverage in hosting the wrap-up show, I thought at the very least I'd lose my full-time staff position, but would continue doing Braves as an independent contractor. Obviously, things didn't turn out that way, and I was very disappointed about that.
How difficult was it for you to watch this story unfold knowing your employment hung in the balance?
Evans: It was difficult to watch both personally and as a hockey fan. As things digressed on the ice, I couldn't help but think that the team's free fall in the standings would ultimately effect the fate of the franchise remaining in Atlanta - and thus my own situation. Thrashers fans deserved better. The people of this city deserved better. Atlanta IS a bona fide sports town. It can support four teams, but ownership and the NHL failed it.
What was the most satisfying aspect of your work with the Thrashers?
Evans: I'd say the most satisfying aspect of my work covering the Thrashers was just reconnecting with the sport in general. It had been a while since my job responsibilities "required" me to go to the games. I grew up a hockey fan in NYC and upon moving to Atlanta in 1985, there was no team here. I went to a stray (Atlanta) Knights game here and there, but when we got the expansion franchise it was exciting. I went to games while at 790 (WQXI) as the station had the rights, but I wasn't around the team 24-7.
This isn't the first time your job has been the casualty of a team moving - this time moving cities, last time moving broadcast partners from WGST to WCNN - how difficult it is to work knowing your job may be lost as the result of factors you have no control over?
Evans: Not only did I lose one job with a franchise moving to another city and another with a team's broadcasting rights changing, but I also lost my position as host of "Falcon's Daily" on Falconsvision (Comcast) after 3 years when the NFL Network came into being, and the league's owners voted against allowing teams to have their own TV channel. Frustrated can not even begin to tell you how I feel. It doesn't make it any easier to have your bosses tell you that "you did a great job, it has nothing to do with your performance, and it's just business." I don't know if this is 3 strikes and I'm out. I've worked in the sports media for 20 years now -- 15 here in Atlanta -- and I can walk away content. I am exploring other possibilities in my life outside of the business, but I've made no decisions yet.
I'd like to stay here if possible, but I'm open to relocating if the right situation came about. I can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org. In the coming days, I hope to update you on the status of Thrashers’ play-by-play broadcaster Dan Kamal.
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