For the past couple of years, sports fans may have heard Wayne Randazzo doing play-by-play work for Big Ten Network productions, anchoring shows on WGN radio or doing updates on WSCR-AM 670 The Score.
Now the St. Charles native and 2002 St. Charles East graduate will be on the air a whole lot more after taking over the radio play-by-play duties for the Kane County Cougars. Randazzo arrives from the deep south, where he enjoyed a four-year stint as the Mobile BayBears director of broadcasting.
“We’re excited about welcoming Wayne to the Cougars family,” Cougars General Manager Curtis Haug said. “He brings a wealth of minor league broadcasting experience, and we’re confident that his strong on-air presence will be embraced by Cougars fans.”
With the season opener right around the corner on April 5, Randazzo is prepping for a summer in which his friends and family can listen to him on a daily basis.
What drew you to radio broadcasting? It’s just something I always wanted to do, especially baseball. I was a big Cubs fan growing up and watched a lot of Harry Caray, and as I got older I liked Thom Brennaman a lot when he was the Cubs radio guy, Dewayne Staats before him and Pat Hughes now, they were always just so good. John Rooney for the White Sox, too. I just appreciated what they did and wanted to do it, too. I wanted to be a part of that; I’ve always wanted to do this.
How did you get started in broadcasting? Actually, I did PA at East for the baseball team my senior year, and that was kind of my first foray into it. Then I went to college at Arizona State. They have a good broadcasting program with the Walter Cronkite School of Broadcasting, and I transferred back to North Central College, where they have a great radio program. From there I went to the winter meetings in Nashville in 2007. They have the major league side of it but they also have a job fair on the minor league side. The Mobile BayBears were looking for a broadcaster and it ended up being me.
Was that first time you broadcasted baseball on the air? In college I did baseball on the radio, but my first pro job was doing stuff for Mobile. I also did a year with the DuPage Dragons in 2007.
What was it like doing your first pro game? It was very thrilling because it was pro ball at the AA level. Cameron Maybin actually hit a long home run that night, and it was awesome. You knew he was going to be a big star. Chris Volstad pitched that night and now he’s with the Cubs, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the prospects I saw from my time in Mobile.
What’s your home run call? Whatever happens when there’s a home run. I think it’s a little bit contrived when people have a home run call. It works for some people — it worked for Harry, it works for Hawk (Harrelson) — but I don’t get into that.
What were the circumstances that led you back to this area? Mobile was great and I had four seasons there, and I got to be part of a championship last year, but this is home. The Cougars hadn’t had a job opening for this position since something like 2005 and Jeff Hem (the Cougars’ previous broadcaster) had been here a while. I do some work with The Score, I do updates and I host occasionally. It was supposed to be an offseason job, but it was turning into a little bit more than that, and then this opened up so I figured it was a great way to stay at The Score and still do pro ball. It was a perfect fit. It really worked out.
What’s it been like since you arrived? It’s been going great. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but everything is extremely professional and everybody is great to work with. It’s just a good place. It seems like everybody enjoys being here, so it’s been easy to come in here and take over.
Did you miss being here full time? It was tough because I’d always come back in the offseason and then go back to Mobile in February. I was moving twice a year, once in February and once in September when the season ended, so it’s nice to be in one place year-round, let alone to be at home. Not too many broadcasters get to be working in their hometown and be in a spot where they really enjoy being.
What response have you had from Cougars’ fans, friends and family about your return? Everybody is ecstatic. My family is going to come out to a lot of games. It’s good to be back around everybody full time. As far as the Cougars fans, the reception has been good. I think a lot of people listen to The Score and they’ve all heard me, so whatever recognition has come from that has helped fans with the transition early on, and hopefully when the season starts it will continue to go smoothly.
What are you looking forward to this season? Just being out here every day. That’s the best thing about working in baseball, just coming to the ballpark every single day. It’s an exciting place to be. You get so many people that come through the gates here, the attendance is so good, and I just want to see it for myself.
Did you come to games here when you were younger? Yeah. I remember when East played (St. Charles North) here the first time they ever played each other in baseball. I was here for that, and when they had the IHSA finals I would always come to those and of course Cougars’ games themselves. They’ve made some renovations and it looks a lot different now, but I’ve been here a lot.
What is your most memorable moment as a broadcaster? There were a couple last year that really stood out. Matt Moore pitched for Montgomery against Mobile and had an 11-strikeout no-hitter. He just controlled the game, and it was unbelievable to watch. Even though it wasn’t for the BayBears, it was still something else to watch this guy in action knowing he is going to probably win a Cy Young award or two in his major league career.
And when the BayBears won the championship last year, that was probably the most fun I’ve had in broadcasting. The three-week span of winning the division title, winning the first-round playoff series and winning the actual championship was really great.