There has been a significant behind-the-scenes move in the local sports broadcasting scene, as Ben Boyd has left his executive producer post at KMOX (1120 AM) to become manager of the Cardinals’ vast radio network.
He replaces Anne Carroll, who has retired after 34 years. Such longevity is quite an accomplishment in a rapidly changing business in which she oversaw the chain’s growth from approximately 100 stations to the current array of 145, most in the big leagues.
“There were a lot of ups and downs, but a lot of fun overall,” she said. “I worked with a lot of great announcers.”
Jack Buck was in the booth when she started, and later his son Joe had a stint there before rising to national prominence at Fox, and she said she got a congratulatory message from him thanking her for being his first big-league boss. Mike Shannon was there for her entire run and John Rooney is heading into his 17th season.
It should be a somewhat smooth transition for Boyd, because KMOX is the flagship station of the network and he had many dealings with the Cardinals in his previous position.
“I talked to him just about every day (during the season), often two or three times a day,” Carroll said.
Boyd said Carroll has set him up well, leaving notes and continuing to help him settle in with texts and conversations.
“We’re good friends,” he said.
A large part of his job at KMOX was booking guests, something he had been doing since getting into the radio business in 2003 as an intern for former well-known St. Louis sportscaster Zip Rzeppa and later producing Bernie Miklasz’s show among other duties at multiple radio stations over the years.
He had settled in at KMOX, for which he spent 11 years, and acknowledged it is a “destination” place at which “people stay forever.” But he was ready for a change from the grind of lining up interviews.
“It gets to you a little bit,” he said.
Boyd, who is from O’Fallon, Mo., will have a new kind of challenge. Not only will he be trying to take care of the needs of a wide array of stations but he also has been tasked with developing more ancillary programming to accompany the game broadcasts.
One goal is to find a successor to the “Live at Shannon’s” program, the popular and insightful baseball talk show with big-name guests that was conducted by Shannon, who retired at the end of last season, and colleague Mike Claiborne, who remains.
“We’re talking about bringing back something along those lines,” perhaps at Ballpark Village, Boyd said, adding that he plans to meet with Cards radio broadcasters Rooney and Ricky Horton, as well as producer Jim Jackson, to discuss ideas.
Shannon, 82, called only about 50 home games in his farewell season, and will not be replaced by a newcomer. Rooney and Horton become the full-time team, with Claiborne continuing to fill in when one is absent and again working on pre- and postgame programming.
And Boyd will be their boss, a role Carroll said he is ready to tackle.
“Ben will do a great job,” she said.