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John Sadak Makes Reds TV Debut Tonight

John Sadak joins the Reds TV team this spring.
Courtesy of Fox Sports Ohio
John Sadak joins the Reds TV team this spring.

Play-by-play announcer John Sadak makes his Reds TV debut on Fox Sports Ohio's Access RedsWednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Sadak, hired two weeks ago, hopes to call his first Reds game next month from spring training in Arizona. 

"The most likely scenario is that I'd go out for a week and do some games," he says by phone from his Delaware home. "Nothing is firm or concrete. I hope we'll have word on that fairly soon."

Sadak, 42, has built a strong resume doing NFL and college sports for Westwood One radio, ESPN, CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports and NBC Sports Chicago. He has nearly 15 years of minor league baseball experience at the Low-A Lakewood BlueClaws; the Advanced-A Wilmington Blue Rocks; and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. He also did some fill-in radio play-by-play on some New York Mets games in 2019.

But he's never been to spring training for any club. Minor league teams rarely send their broadcasters to Florida or Arizona. Currently he's embarked on the steep learning curve to become familiar with the current Reds roster and the history of the 152-year-old franchise. 

"The Reds are doing Zooms every single day with two or three players available," he says. "Manager David Bell is available. My anticipation is that you've got to treat it kind of like being in the clubhouse. It's important to be on that Zoom every day ... and that's how you begin to try to build relationships until, ideally, we're back in the clubhouse at some point." 

He's also not been to Cincinnati for a while, and has never seen the Reds Hall of Fame. He was hired after two online interviews and a telephone conversation with Reds executives last month. His audition tape was a CBS Sports Network college baseball telecast with Danny Graves, the former Reds reliever and part-time analyst who will not return to Reds broadcasts this year.

Sadak did not do a video audition with Chris Welsh, the main TV analyst for 28 years, or Barry Larkin, who was added to FSO's Reds TV team Tuesday.  

Working with the Reds' Hall of Fame shortstop is a "pinch-me moment that I don't think you can top," Sadak says."It was hard to top the idea of calling Major League games, and then you add in a living legend? And you can pick his brain? You can watch the game alongside him? And learn through him? It's just incredible."

Larkin says he will do all 81 home games. Welsh or Jeff Brantley will do the rest on TV, and also do radio games with Tommy Thrall. 

At this point, the FSO Reds' home game telecasts from Goodyear and Cincinnati will be done at the ballparks. Once the season starts, Reds road game telecasts also will be done from Cincinnati -- in FSO's Downtown studio -- as last year.

"The hope is perhaps we could be able to travel at some point this year. But like the rest of the world during this pandemic, everything is day by day," he says.

In past years, Sadak has called Bengals games for Westwood One's national radio broadcasts from Paul Brown Stadium, and the Division II basketball championship game at Northern Kentucky University for Westwood One.

Last fall he did most of his 14 college and NFL games for Westwood One from the site. Most of his college basketball broadcasts this winter – many with former Xavier University coach Pete Gillen as analyst -- have been done in a studio from monitors.

Sadak, his wife and daughter will move here this summer. He doesn't plan on moving again after that.

"I'm in this position, hopefully, for the rest of my working life," he says. "That's not entirely my decision. I need to perform, and I hope I will be able to. But that's my intention, that's my plan."

Access Reds airs on Fox Sports Ohio at 6:30 p.m. today, 3:30 p.m. Thursday Feb. 18 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22.

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John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.