Cory Provus was officially named today as the successor to Jim Powell on Brewers radio broadcasts and he was kind enough to answer a few questions from us. The 30-year-old Illinois native is coming off a stint with WGN radio doing the Cubs pre-game and post-game shows and the play-by-play announcing for one inning of each game.
The Syracuse grad tells Brewers fans not to worry about his allegiances, saying, “I want the Brewers to win every game” in the heated rivalry. And it’s no act, he told Illinois newspapers “I’m a Brewer now” earlier today. So, rest easy and enjoy Provus’ strong delivery, descriptive style and passion for storytelling this season. I think we’ll like him here. In my opinion, his hiring is the first win for the Brewers over the Cubs this season.
Listen to the interview here (complete with a few call-waiting beeps provided by RFB Joe, who called during the interview):
Hi, this is Jared with Right Field Bleachers and we have new Brewers radio broadcaster on the phone. I guess, first off, congratulations on the job and we’re happy to have you here.
Thank you, Jared. I’m excited to be here.
Can you talk a little about the interview process? How did you decide you were interested in the job and how did the whole process play out?
Well, let me tell you, I was interested from day one. There have been a couple of jobs that have been open the last couple of seasons, but this is the only one that I’ve applied for because of the situation for a variety of reasons.
I think it’s an exciting time to be a part of this team coming off a playoff run. It’s a young, exciting team. It’s a great offense. That played a role. The fact that the Brewers call Miller Park home, which is a terrific ballpark, and the fans are tremendous both home and on the road, that was a factor.
Working alongside a guy like Bob Uecker, you know, I’m a student of the game of baseball. I’ve always loved it and there’s so much about the game that I know that Bob can teach me. That was a big role as well.
And then I would say to top it all of is that I’m a family guy. I’m a Midwestern guy. My family is all in the northern suburbs of Illinois and that’s where they’re at and the fact that they’re only going to be about 50 minutes away from Milwaukee really kind of made this a perfect situation for me.
The interview process was great. It started picking up steam probably in mid January and that led to some phone calls and some interviews both at the radio station and with the team.
And last week, actually two weeks ago, I flew out to Arizona and I had dinner with Bob and we had a great time for three hours, just kind of talking shop for maybe five minutes and then it was just laughing and telling stories for the remaining two hours and 55 minutes. So, everything kind of just fit in perfectly for me and I’m just excited to get going.
While Jim Powell was here, he was employed by WTMJ and not the Brewers so he could have impartiality when he was broadcasting. Do you have a similar arrangement?
Yes, I’m employed by WTMJ.
OK, and reports said that WTMJ was looking for the new broadcaster to have an expanded role with the station. Can you tell us anything about that?
Yeah, I’m going to be involved in the offseason a good bit, whether it’s filling in on morning and afternoon drive sportscasts or kind of jumping on a talk show here and there, but, yeah, I’m kind of going to be around the station in the offseason a good bit.
As far as what exactly that entails, I’ll find out, but I’m open for it. That’s part of it and I understand, and I’m looking forward to it because the people that I’ve met have been tremendous. It’s a beautiful station. And, yeah, so that’s a part of it. That’s all I really know about it right now, but once I go through it this offseason, I’ll be able to kind of experience it once and go from there.
You’ve worked with Pat Hughes, who is a former Brewers radio broadcaster. Did you talk to him about Milwaukee and the Brewers at all?
Oh sure. Pat is one of my big mentors. Pat has been a dear friend, but just an even better mentor the last couple of years. He was involved early in this process. He told me how great of a town Milwaukee is and how, not only the city but the state of Wisconsin, they embrace the game of baseball.
And again, getting back to what I said earlier about joining this team right now at such an exciting time. More than three million people watched games last year at Miller Park and season ticket sales are going incredibly well so it’s just a perfect time to join this organization and this radio station.
You mentioned Bob Uecker earlier. Did you know him previous to interviewing for the job?
I met him a little bit, Jared. I kind of met him a bit, especially the last couple years , you get to meet all of the other broadcasters, specifically in the division because you see them so often. Yeah, I got to know Bob a little bit, but not nearly to the level I did a couple of weeks ago.
I never really had more than a couple minute chat with him, but I did this time around. We sat there, as I said, for three hours and that was great. Finally getting to know him now, this is really going to be an exciting time for me. The chance to sit with him and again work with him for six months is just going to be a tremendous opportunity.
Can you describe your announcing style? What should Brewers fans expect from you when they tune into the games later this year?
You know, I’ve always loved the medium of radio. I’ve done some TV, but I’ve always loved radio more. The medium, I think, is a challenging one, but it’s a fun one. I think of my style as a very descriptive style. You hear all the time that with radio you have to paint this picture, well, that’s obvious, but you want to challenge yourself.
How far are you willing to go? Instead of just painting the picture, how descriptive can one be? And that’s something that I pride myself on because I don’t think it’s possible to be too descriptive in a radio broadcast. What I try to do is make it somewhat three-dimensional and not just paint the picture, but just kind of paint this clear, vivid and descriptive one.
In addition to that, I also like telling some stories. I think the fans listening are not just the guys that do fantasy baseball all of the time. I like humanizing it a bit and telling stories about players and their families and things like that.
So, for the Brewer fan that is 85 years old that has loved this team forever that doesn’t care that so-and-so is in the midst of a 15-game hitting streak or has reached safely in 17 of his last 20 games, they want to hear about some charity work that he’s done on an off day or during the day prior to game time. Things like that.
I like doing that stuff a good bit as well in addition to getting all the basics across, being informative, but entertain as well. But, again, I would say being descriptive is my biggest strength and secondly just the ability to make a broadcast three-dimensional is something that I take a lot of pride in as well.
OK, well, Uecker is a Hall of Fame story teller, so it sounds like you guys will mesh well on that front then.
Oh, yeah, that’s a big part of this. I’m really looking forward to sitting with him and hearing all these things because I love to laugh and I love hearing new stories. So, hopefully we’ll be able to do that plenty this season.
Now, you’re from Illinois, you grew up a diehard Cubs fan, and you’re coming off a gig with WGN, the Cubs flagship. I think some fans are a little concerned about having an “enemy,” so to speak in the hometown radio booth. What can you tell them to ease their minds a little bit?
To be honest with you, if I thought that was going to be a problem, then I wouldn’t have applied for the job. And in a way too, Jared, I’ve been through this before. I’m a proud Syracuse graduate and when I was there and I was doing games, Virginia Tech was one of Syracuse’s biggest rivals, specifically in football.
At this point, Virginia Tech was still in the Big East. We had some hard fought games, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. It was ’98 when it came down to the last seconds and Donovan McNabb threw a game-winning touchdown pass and SU won at the horn. The following year, I did the game again, this time in Blacksburg, and Virginia Tech won like 62-0 or 66-0 and some tough times, some tough emotional games to be there for as a broadcaster.
But, sure enough, where was my first job out of school? Virginia Tech. And I was there for three years and the Hokie community embraced me from day one and never once was I called in for a meeting saying, “Hey, we played Syracuse the other day and we felt you were a bit biased.” That never happened because I’m a professional broadcaster and I realize where I’m at right now.
I can’t do much about where I grew up, but I would not have accepted this job if I thought that was going to be a problem because I want the Brewers to win. The Brewers and Cubs play plenty this season, in spring training and the regular season, and I want the Brewers to win every game. That’s my job. That’s what I’m here for, and that’s what I look forward to doing.
Talking about the Cubs/Brewers games, that’s developed into quite a rivalry over the last few years, hasn’t it?
Oh yeah, it’s been great. It’s been a fun, fun series to be a part of. Some dramatic games on both sides. I think the game last year, the 2008 opener, a 0-0 game going into the ninth inning and then Milwaukee gets three off Kerry Wood in the top of the inning and then the Cubs get three back off Eric Gagne in the bottom and then the Brewers eventually win it in extra innings. That was off to such a great start alone.
There have been some great moments. I mean, last year, the final weekend of the regular season where Milwaukee took two of three from the Cubs that weekend and then won that last Sunday. Sabathia pitched great, some dramatic hits, and sure enough, an hour later, we find out the Mets lose and the celebration was on.
That was a dramatic weekend, a great weekend for the city, the state, and Brewers fans all over the country, as their team was finally heading back to the playoffs for the first time since ’82. You know, I mean, there have been some great moments and hopefully there will be some more dramatic moments coming up this year and hopefully down the line.
As someone who has got to watch the team pretty closely over the last handful of years being down there in Chicago, what do you think of the team?
Oh, I think that their offense is loaded. I think the offense the Brewers have is loaded. The key parts are back. Obviously, the set back with Bill Hall was not too good coming out of the first couple days of spring training, but there seems to be some depth there at third base.
But Yovani Gallardo is as talented as anyone in the game. He’s so young. If he can stay healthy, he is a guy you want at the top of your rotation. Obviously, the Brewers have a lot of innings and wins to fill with the losses of Sabathia and Sheets. That’s not going to just happen over night. You’re going to find one or two guys to fill that void.
At the same time, there are some guys that have been around. I think the signing of Braden Looper was a terrific signing, a guy that knows the division well, a guy that’s a veteran. I think that’s a big help.
But again, this offense I think is going to probably carry the team. The offense is explosive. They can hit for power. They can hit for average. There’s speed at the top of the lineup. There’s speed in the outfield. Watching Mike Cameron play centerfield I think is worth the price of a ticket.
It’s an exciting time to be there. It’s an exciting time to watch this team because there are so many young superstars.
And do you have a prediction for ’09 at all?
You know what, I’m not one that really predicts a lot. I think predicting baseball is nearly impossible. I don’t think that anybody in their right mind predicted that Tampa Bay was going to win the East, let alone the pennant last year. So, I think predicting baseball is so hard. It’s such a long season.
You know that saying “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” is so true with the game of baseball because there are so many things that happen throughout the year. There are some that you think might happen and then there’s so many things that happen that you never expected.
I mean, who ever expected a guy like Aaron Harang last year would have trouble like he did. Nobody expected that. Everybody can have a .500 season here or there, but he was sub .500.
I think baseball is really hard to predict so I try to stay away from predicting wins and losses and things like that because you just never know.
Will you be heading to Spring Training pretty soon here?
Yeah, I’m leaving Sunday. I’m leaving Sunday for Arizona and then I’ll be there for the duration. My first game broadcasting is Wednesday, next Wednesday, so I’m looking forward to it.
Anything else you wanted to add at all?
I’m looking forward to it. I look forward to some feedback throughout the way and chatting with fans. Again, I’m really that kind of guy. I’m an open kind of humble man. If people want to come up and tell me if they’re enjoying the broadcast or not, “I’d like it if you did this more,” I’m open to that. I’m open to feedback and comments so by all means I’ll look for that along the way.
OK, well, thank you very much and good luck this season.
Thanks, Jared. Talk to you soon.