A group weblog for Oakland A's fans

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Interview with Ken Korach

I thought it would be fun to interview Ken Korach, who is an announcer on the A's radio network. I got a hold of him, we set up a time, and did the interview. I always liked his take on the A's and after talking to him, he's as great a guy one-on-one as he seems on the radio.

Questions for Ken Korach:
Mike Ahern for Barry Zito Forever
, 9/7/04

BZF: I have heard you say many times in the middle of a broadcast, “It’s GREAT to have you with us.” I always thought that was a fun thing to say, did you come up with it?

Ken Korach: I actually borrowed it from a guy named Mike Patrick who does some NFL Sunday night games for ESPN. I had Mike on a talk show I was doing 11 or 12 years ago, and he was so nice and so gracious, and he always used to say that on his open and it seemed to add some warmth to his telecast. We are trying to welcome people to the broadcast as if we are sitting in the living room with them. I decided to use it on the station IDs but I did kind of rip it off from him, and I am glad you like it.

BZF: A few nights ago against the Orioles, when it was you and Ray Fosse and Bill King there was something going on and you guys were laughing. I couldn’t really tell what was funny, something about Ponson? Any insight on what the joke was? Any stories about stuff that happens in the booth with Bill and Ray?

Ken Korach: There was a dribbler hit down the first base line, and Ponson kind of reached out for the ball and couldn’t come up with it, and Bill said that Ponson resembled an elephant, because Ponson is a little heavier than your average pitcher. And then Bill, as only he can do, went into this stream of consciousness thing where he said, “Ponson would have been better off with a trunk”. Bill is an amazing character. One of the things I’ve tried to do when I got the job 9 years ago was do as much as I could to let people hear what Bill King thought about things, because I think Bill is a walking encyclopedia of Bay Area sports. Anything I can do to get him to reflect on his career, to engage him, I think he has had such a remarkable life, I think people seem to enjoy that. We kid Bill about his eating habits and the way he takes his shoes off in the booth. Bill is real good natured about it.

BZF: I love to hear stories about the players. Last week against the O’s Durazo hit 3 homers and drove in all 5 runs. I never thought of him as a guy who could carry the A’s on his back, but maybe he can. What is Durazo like, and how good can he be?

Ken Korach: Durazo is having a sensational year, his best in the big leagues. He broke in with a bang in Arizona but it wasn’t for a full season like this year. He is a quiet guy in many respects. He wasn’t always comfortable around the press, wasn’t someone who sought a lot of attention. I have tried to take it slowly with him, I had him on a postgame show, and it was great, he was more than willing to do it. Over time you develop a relationship, I got some really good stuff from him yesterday around the batting cage, and obviously his contributions have been great this year.

BZF: I love the A’s, I think they are the best team in baseball in many ways. Are they really the greatest or are they just another good team? I truly believe that the postseason is not a crapshoot and I think Billy Beane doesn’t believe that either. I think this team has been designed differently to succeed not only in the regular season, but in the postseason. How do you think the A’s can succeed in the postseason?

Ken Korach: I think of the A’s teams we have had in this run, the 2001 team was the most talented team. In a 5 game series it is difficult to predict the outcome, I think a 7 game series does a better job of identifying the best club. As it stands right now, they’d play Boston in the first round and that is a tough matchup for them. In terms of the way this years’ team is put together, I think this is the best defensive team we’ve had in the time that I’ve done the games. Obviously that is a real plus going into the post season. In the postseason the games tighten up a little bit, it is lower scoring, this team is good at doing the little things you have to do offensively. I think the bullpen is ok, this is a really good club and it wouldn’t surprise me if they went deep into the postseason. But if you look at the 4 teams headed into the postseason right now it is a very strong group. I have no idea how the A’s will do, but I like their chances. If you have a club with Mulder, Hudson and Zito, you should feel pretty good going into the postseason.

BZF: What do you think the announcer’s job is when it comes to rooting for the home team? How do you present the data when most of your audience is rooting for the A’s?

Ken Korach: That is a question I could take an hour answering. That goes to the heart of what this is all about for me. For me the most important thing for a broadcaster is that you have credibility. You have to be believable. I am very fortunate to work in the Bay Area where there is a tradition of announcers being perhaps a little more objective, whereas in the Midwest you are expected to be a homer. I think everyone who listens to an A’s game knows I want the A’s to win. Let’s face it, Bill, Ray, myself, we all want the A’s to win. But that can’t cloud your ability to deliver an objective broadcast. I interviewed Vin Scully once, and I asked him what was an essence of a big league broadcast, and he said, “If you say everything is always great for your team then you lose the impact of what you are saying.” If I say no matter what happens, Chavez is playing great, then if something really great happens, there is no impact in what you are saying. You have to be believable. You have build a foundation of the fundamentals of the game: the count, where the outfield is playing, giving the score, being able to deliver a solid play-by-play for people, that’s the most important thing. You have to have a balance there, I am not a guy who is going to be overly critical. I am not going to rip people with no concern for professionalism. I would hope people would say I did a professional job.

BZF: I think that 9 position players on the A’s are having career years this year. What do you think about that? Is that a sign of a good postseason?

Ken Korach: That’s true. You can say everyone in the starting lineup is having a good year. That is really unusual and it is a big plus that no one has had to carry the load. If you only have 2 or 3 guys having good years it puts too much pressure on those guys. You are exactly right, and it has been great. The one people around the country might be unaware of is Kotsay. I think Kotsay has had a sensational year. Hatteberg has been tremendous, and all the way through the lineup, but the one guy whose made the biggest difference is Kotsay.

BZF: The A’s just finished the month of August 20-8, their 3rd straight August with at least 20 wins. Do you have any idea how they do that? Ho

Ken Korach: One of the reasons and it is kind of ironic, is that a pitcher besides the big 3 has done a remarkable job in the 2nd half. Two years ago, Cory Lidle was on fire, had 32 scoreless innings, the next year Lilly had a sensational 2nd half, and this year it has been Harden. In his 10 starts after the break before his last one he was 6-0 with a 2.55 ERA.

BZF: Last night’s play when the ump obviously blew it on a short hop that Manny played and he called it a catch. Should the opposing manager be able to tell the ump to get help?

Ken Korach: I called the play and we said almost immediately that they blew the call and he trapped it. I wish they would ask for help more often. In this situation the crew chief should go to the ump and say, “Are you sure?” It should be almost automatic that he ask for help. There is nothing wrong with admitting that maybe you didn’t see it that well. I think the umpires would get a lot more respect if they admitted, “Hey, I didn’t see it that well.”

BZF: What is your broadcasting history? Is there anything about you we don’t know that would be fun to know?

Ken Korach: I started in Petaluma in 1980, I was doing high school baseball, basketball and football. I did a talkshow, newstalk, I was a DJ. I’ve done one full season of Single A ball in the California League, 5 full seasons of AAA. 4 years of part time AAA in Las Vegas. I did the White Sox in ‘92-‘95. I got hired by the A’s in ’96. I have done 22 years of college basketball: Sonoma St for 3, San Jose St for 7 and UNLV for 12. I did 14 years of college football: 3 at Sonoma, 7 at San Jose St and 4 at UNLV.

BZF: Thanks a lot for your time.

Ken Korach: I hope you pass along to the fans that I appreciate all the support I have gotten from them. It has been a thrill for me to do big league ball pretty much in my home town. I feel really fortunate to be able to do that and the fans have been a big part of that.

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