Behind the Microphone

As play- by- play announcer for WBBM Newsradio 780, Jeff Joniak has a job that any Bears fan would envy.

"There's no doubt about it this is a dream assignment," Joniak said.

Joniak, a 16 year Chicago sports veteran who is most familiar to Bears fans for his four years as the team's on air pre-and post-game host, assumed the role of play-by-play man during the past season.

"This is exactly what I've always wanted to do," he said. "I played basketball and baseball in school, but I never had the chance to play football. It's one of the few regrets that I have in my life. I love the game and I get a real thrill broadcasting it now."

As a longtime sports fan, Joniak brings his own unique perspective to his play-by-play work.

"My job, of course, is to report the progression of each game as it unfolds," Joniak said. "But there is a lot more to this than just covering plays and reciting statistics."

Before every game, Joniak puts in hours of research and plenty of good old-fashioned legwork.

"I'm always at the stadium at least 4 hours before kickoff," Joniak remarked.

"I need that time to get organized and to get into my game day routine. I do the pre-game show with Tom Thayer and Hub Arkush. It usually takes about an hour. After that, I go down on the field to get a feel for what is happening."

Joniak talks with players from both teams, often concentrating on the Bears opponents.

"I scout out players, then I usually talk to quite a few of them. I check to see who looks ready, who might be injured. It's important to find out if anything unique or unusual is happening. I also watch the kickers to see who is looking good. I try to become familiar with all of the players. That is what makes the play-by-play run smoothly."

Joniak then returns to the broadcast booth and puts his game plan in order. The last half-hour of the pre-game show is broadcast nationally.

"From the time I return to the Press box, it is non-stop concentration until the post game show has concluded," he said. "That requires total concentration and a very controlled environment. Nobody who is broadcasting live on the radio wants any surprises. This is a fast game and just about anything can happen. Success in this type of work is the result careful planning and anticipation."

The entire interview will be published in the April 1st edition of the Bear Report.

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