The Producer: Marc Brady is the biggest name in Chicago sports TV you don’t know

If you’re a long-time viewer of Chicago sports, you’ve undoubtedly – and probably unknowingly – seen and heard the work of Marc Brady.

He is 30 years oldand year on the game broadcast production side. He produced Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox games. He helped introduce viewers to some of the greatest moments in Chicago sports history. He currently produces Bulls games for NBC Sports Chicago.

Yet you never hear his voice. You only hear his name in the end credits.

But that’s not entirely true. Although Brady doesn’t actually talk to you, he communicates with you through advertisers. Call it a ghost talker, if you will.

Cubs fans of a certain age remember revered producer-director Arne Harris. Today, such accolades belong to Brady, whom his colleagues sincerely respect, trust and adore.

“He’s like the Zelig of Chicago sports producers,” Bulls announcer Adam Amin said.

The producer is the boss of the “show”. This is what the producers call the shows. For them, it’s more than a game.

“It’s the original reality TV,” said Brady, 51. “It’s a show. And if it’s done right, it’s a complete presentation.

Brady said the game still lends itself to the type of show he does. If it goes down to the wire, it’s a drama. If it turns into an eruption, that’s something else.

“That’s when it’s time to inform and entertain because it’s a spectacle,” he said. “There is always someone who cares. There are people who have been waiting all day for this game. My job is to take you away from the world you were in. Your world is now here. This is an opportunity for me to present this to you.

There is a distinct difference between the producer and the director, who chooses the footage and the camera angles you see.

“The director is a person now; the producer is a planning person,” Brady said. “The director has to be constantly moving with the action, while I’m looking for my place to enter. I set the tone; he must realize it. And if it works well, it’s a hand-in-hand thing that’s a perfect dance.

Brady grew up in Hazel Crest watching the Cubs on WGN. Harry Caray often made Harris the third stand member with analyst Steve Stone. Brady didn’t understand Harris’ work at the time, but his fascination with television production led him to learn. At Columbia College, he enjoyed creating shows more than being the center of them, and his first job outside of college was as a stage manager at SportsChannel in 1992.

He worked White Sox games with “Hawk” Harrelson and Tom Paciorek and Bulls games with Tom Dore and “Red” Kerr. His job was to be the eyes in the field or on the ground for the production truck, showing the team what to look out for. He passed papers to advertisers, got them talking, and helped them with whatever they needed.

After producing Bulls pregame shows with Norm Van Lier and Steve Kashul, Brady left in 1998 for WGN, where he worked with Harris and became associate producer for Bulls and Cubs games. This job involved working on statistics and charts, which was a dream come true after years of watching the sports pages as a kid, studying numbers whether or not they made sense to him.

He was working on May 6, 1998, when Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood tied the major league record for strikeouts in a game with 20. Harris told Brady to go out in the field and grab Wood for a meeting. The enormity of what had happened hit Brady when he tried to put an IFB in Wood’s ear.

“Both of our hands were shaking so violently from being nervous,” Brady said. “It became my regular role, running around the field and getting players after the big games. I had Sammy Sosa in Detroit when he hit [home run] No. 20 in a month.

Along the way, Brady learned from Harris, whose habit of showing fans’ unique headwear left an impression.

“People came to the game wearing hats for Arne to show them,” Brady said. “You pay for a ticket to get in and worry about whether Arne will show you. He has influenced more lives than you can ever think.

Harris died in 2001 at age 67. Brady became WGN’s Cubs producer in 2008, although he also produces shows about the Blackhawks, Bulls and Sox. As soon as WGN lost every team in 2019, NBC Sports Chicago called Brady, who wasn’t even looking for a job. The network tabbed him for his Bulls games.

It was a smart move considering Brady’s history with the team and the quality of his work, which is tinged with his passion for the job. He writes most of the openings to buzz about games, and he’s the creative force behind the graphics and interstitials that lead to a single-player package.

More importantly, Brady builds relationships with his colleagues that extend off the air. The crew has a group chat with a continuous conversation that can lead anywhere. Basketball is inevitable, and Amin said it makes it easier to prepare for games.

“The best teams I work with, including my football team, are like that,” said Amin, who also works for Fox. “The crews that are constantly communicating are the ones that are in the lockdown phase.”

This is especially important for the producer and voice play-by-play. Brady and Amin constantly talk during games.

“It’s a relationship that you have to make sure you’re okay with,” Brady said. “There’s nothing I can really tell Stacey King that he doesn’t know about basketball.”

Said Amin, “You need to have a producer you trust, who knows the material, and you need someone who keeps us at the table, even faired. Brady sums it all up.

“The broadcast truck must be a well-oiled machine. The driving force behind this must be the producer.

Brady’s truck for the Bulls games includes director Russ Leonard and associate producer Tamra Anderson, both essential to the operation. Brady will switch trucks next month when he briefly replaces Sox producer Chris Withers.

Even in his 30sand year, Brady still enjoys being at games and bringing them to viewers.

“I was a very lucky person and I don’t take anything for granted,” he said. “It has been a joy for me to be allowed into people’s homes, even though most of them don’t even know it.”

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