An Ode to Marty Brennaman: Cincinnati’s Gentleman Icon

Classic RadioAn Ode to Marty Brennaman

Many people are bemoaning the fact the calendar recently turned to August and wondered just where their fading summer has gone, thinking they must grab the gusto of the last vestiges of it while they can.

For baseball fans, the best is yet to come and there is nothing like the excitement of September baseball and the races to the finish.

All summer long we have heard the sounds of the season, the neighbor’s lawnmower, the jingle playing from the ice cream truck and the laughter of kids enjoying their time off from school to the very fullest.

For me, beginning in early April, there is one real sound that defines summer here in Cincinnati.

I admit to being a baseball junkie and from the moment the regular season begins until the final out of the World Series in Autumn, baseball is on here. And though I watch a ton of games, many national, the Reds (unless I am out of town watching baseball somewhere) are on from opening day until their final pitch of the season, which this season it appears will extend past their last regular season game.

I also readily admit that 8-out-of-10 games at this residence are of the radio variety because that sound of summer to me is none other than the voice of Marty Brennaman, plain and simple.

This as far as I know is not Reds appreciation week, my last column proclaiming fans should take notice at just what they have here in all the Reds affordable offers and great baseball to boot, but sometimes we all just take things for granted. However this column has been a longtime coming I assure you.

Once more I wonder if we here realize just how lucky we are in having Marty. Of all the professional sports, there is no game more made for radio than the National Pastime, in that it is great to watch but the only one that truly works on radio as well and has since the days when it was primarily only radio.

Marty in many respects is like your favorite pair of  old shoes, just so comfortable to listen to And in many respects, those of us old school who still appreciate not only the game on the radio, but radio itself, feel like Marty and his very capable partners are sort of like family. They join you every night and you look forward to listening to them … often more than you would most family. But you get the picture.

You just get used to having Marty around, not so much the Hall of Fame broadcaster, the icon, but the man himself night after night joining your household, or your picnic, or in your car traveling or at work on the late shift. He is always there and dependable.

Many feel the same away about their favorite radio personalities, and each has his loyal following and favorites, mine WLW’s Jim Scott. But rival stations split the fanship many ways. Few personalities could possibly have the legion of loyalists Marty has because Reds fans are widespread and everywhere and WLW does not have to worry about all the pie splitting.

As a person, as much as a broadcaster, bald or bushy with his flowing silver locks, you have to love the guy for many reasons well beyond his clear resonate voice that is as easy to listen to as your favorite music while swaying in a hammock with a cold drink after a long day at work.

There were many broadcasters calling the game growing up that I championed, so much so that I went to Syracuse University with designs of becoming a broadcaster. The list has many but there were not many I could listen to with the subtle calming effect of Ken Coleman in Boston doing the Red Sox, who not only kept you in the game while listening to the broadcast on the radio, but could be both memorizing and captivating. And oh that silken voice and soft delivery.

Marty is the same in those respects and more, a bit like a five-tool baseball player. He knows the game like the back of his hand. He clearly has that golden voice and is a  silver-throated orator like many. But his many years around the game have given him great insight and great stories based on his depth of knowledge and his travels inside the inner circle.

But there is more to this total package, more than his wit and his great sense of humor. Marty is candid and although his passion for the game is obvious and the love for the hometown team cannot be masked (not that he tries), there is one thing for sure, one thing very refreshing.

Marty is anything but a company man and you can bet the ranch on one thing. He will always tell it like it is. He is candid and isn’t afraid to offer his educated opinion be it about a bonehead play by the Reds or an excruciatingly long game which both he and I as a former deadline newspaper guy both hate.

There are dull games, but with Marty there is never a dull moment from the first pitch of the season until the last. And what you hear or sense about him, is just what you get.

There have been times I have been in the press room at GABP, and one could count on one hand the times the icon has spoken to me, yet to me and to the servers in the dining line or the kid running notes, there is one constant. Marty is genuine, and in my case he treats me on that once or twice a year visit like I was his longtime friend.

That in large part is the key to success on the airwaves. He doesn’t talk down to you, he talks to you and the common bond is the shared love of the game.

Yup, we are quite lucky and sometimes before the flowers die and the Autumn leaves fall, we may want to smell them so to speak and realize the summer long friend we have each and every passing season.