(This story was put together by Kevin Kinkead and Bob Wankel)
Back in October, local broadcaster Jim Jackson came out of nowhere when he took to Twitter to reveal that the Phillies were letting him go.
Jackson had been with the team for 15 seasons, doing pregame and postgame radio and popping in for play-by-play during the 4th and 5th innings as well. His primary gig was always the Flyers television broadcast, and he remains in that role after parting ways with the Phillies.
The team never announced a replacement, though some assumed Kevin Frandsen might take on a bigger role. The former Phillie joined the broadcast team in 2018 and worked a number of road games, then had his role expanded in 2019 to the point where he added some home games as well.
Instead, Jackson’s replacement is Phillies Broadcasting Manager Rob Brooks, and a sampling of the fan reaction on Twitter is negative:
I know radio advertising revenues are down , but for the Phillies to allow Rob Brooks to do play by play fir innings 4 and 5 is an embarrassment and insult to Phillies fans everywhere. Jim Jackson wasn’t the best baseball announcer but he was professional
— Eric Cohen (@ebcinpa) April 1, 2021
I was never a big Jim Jackson fan doing Phillies games, but my God this Rob Brooks guy that replaced him on the radio is beyond awful. I mean this guy makes Dick Stockton sound like a Hall Of Fame broadcaster !
— franko65 (@Raiderfrank65) April 1, 2021
That’s what most of the reaction seems to be. Brooks is doing pregame and postgame radio in addition to calling the 4th and 5th innings while Scott Franzke steps out of the booth.
In the interest of fairness here, it should be understood that Brooks is not supposed to be this seasoned baseball broadcaster, and had only previously jumped in front of a microphone during emergencies. The reality of the situation is that Brooks is a behind-the-scenes Phillies employee who doubles as a Drexel basketball broadcaster on the side. That’s his area of real-time expertise and experience, the hardwood.
It wouldn’t take a sweeping investigation to realize that cutting ties with Jackson and moving Brooks to the broadcast booth was simply a cost-control measure. Jackson said as much, explaining in his letter to fans that the Phillies told him he was a “luxury the team can no longer afford.” That was confirmed to Crossing Broad in discussions with a high-ranking Phillies team official, who explained that there were economic uncertainties due to the pandemic, and a lack of foresight on when fans might be allowed back into the ballpark. That resulted in a financial impact that carried into the 2021 season, bringing cuts to various sectors of the business.
One thing that was made clear to Crossing Broad is that the team’s broadcasting plans are not set in stone. According to this team official, the Phillies will consider various options as the season progresses, which would more or less confirm that Brooks has simply been asked to cover on a temporary basis while the situation is being sorted.
That could lead to a reunion with Gregg Murphy, if we’re speculating here. If we’re trying to locate the fire that is currently giving off smoke.
‘Murph,’ as you know, was the 20-year field reporter who worked for NBC Sports Philadelphia, but was let go in the wave of layoffs that also saw Serena Winters, Derrick Gunn, and others depart the network. Murphy, who is currently doing his own podcast, maintains a very strong relationship with the team, has an assigned seat in the press box, and would be a natural replacement for Jackson. In this instance, Murph would instead go on the Phillies’ payroll, whereas he was previously employed by NBCSP.
Again, just speculation on our part, but we successfully followed the smoke rings to the John Kincade hire a few months back, so we feel like we’ve got a decent track record and some credibility here.
The other thing to note is this:
94 WIP has no say in the Phillies’ broadcasting decisions. Any of the ire directed at the radio station is off-base, since WIP is just an affiliate of the Phillies Radio Network, which serves 21 stations in the tri-state region. WIP is one of two “flagship” stations within the network but doesn’t decide who goes in the booth, so yelling at them is a futile exercise.