Off Base
Q & A With Josh Suchon

March 8, 2011, 1: 40 p.m. We've got more from bloggers coming, but for the moment, we go a slightly different direction, with Dodgers talk radio workhorse Josh Suchon at the dish. Can you tell me a bit about your career path please? You started in the newspaper business, correct?

Josh Suchon: "Yeah, I spent 10 years writing for The Oakland Tribune. I started off covering high school sports, did some fill-in reporting on the Raiders, Warriors, Cal, Stanford and whatever other assignments would come up. I covered the Giants from 2000-03, then the A's from 2004-06."

BS: Did you study journalism in school?

JS: "I was actually a Radio-TV-Journalism major at San Diego State. But I also wrote for The Daily Aztec. I was even the editor-in-chief my final year, but I always wanted to be a broadcaster. My first job out of college was with the now-defunct Watertown Indians of the New York-Penn League. I was paid $25 a game.

Like all minor league employees, I did everything. I put the tarp on the field during rain delays. I picked up people at the airport. I passed out free tickets all over town. But I was able to broadcast 20 games live on the radio and that's really cool when you're 22 years old. That's what I wanted to do. I didn't want to write.

After that job, I came back to California and was looking for another minor league job. I didn't find anything right away. I was waiting tables at Chili's and started writing one or two high school stories a week for the Trib. I didn't plan to stay for 10 years. I kept getting promoted at my newspaper and no minor league team would hire me. The newspaper business picked me more than I picked it."

BS: And you have authored a book?

JS: "On Sept. 9, 2001, Barry Bonds hit three home runs at Colorado. He had 63 for the season. I flew to Houston the next day and thought he's going to break this record and maybe I should write a book about the season. On September 11, the country changed forever. I didn't think about writing the book again until after the season ended. A really good friend from college told me, 'You write it and I'll find a way to get it published.' I did and he did. I wrote the first draft in 30 days. The whole thing was done in two months. It was self-published and came out March 1 of the next season, which is ridiculous turnaround.

It's called, 'This Gracious Season.' (I know, quite the ironic title, huh? It's from a Shakespeare quote. Look it up.) There's a lot of things we now know about that season that we suspected, but we didn't know for certain at the time. I actually re-read part of that book a couple months ago for the first time in about five years. There's only a couple cringe-worthy sections. Overall, I'm proud of it. Hell, I was 27 when I wrote it and coming off my second year covering baseball. But I sure hope that when people discuss what I've done with my career, that's way down the list."

BS: Who have been your mentors?

JS: "Bill King taught me 99 percent of what I know about broadcasting. I grew up in the East Bay suburbs of Oakland. King did the Raiders, the A's and the Warriors – all at the same time. I literally and figuratively listened to King more than my Dad, more than my teachers, more than coaches, more than any other adult. His vocabulary is ridiculous.

One of best days of my life was 2005. I was in Cleveland with the A's. I drove to Canton and visited the Football Hall of Fame. I heard all these great calls of King doing Raiders games, then got to the ballpark and there's Bill saying hello to me in the dugout. When Bill passed away in 2005, it made me realize that I wanted to give broadcasting one more chance. I didn't want any regrets later in life."

BS: How did you come to work for the KABC and/or the Dodgers? Who did you deal with? How has it been? Were future play-by-play opportunities discussed?

JS: "In January of 2007, I took a one-month job with something called the Texas Winter League. It was a pay-to-play league where players went to try getting signed by this independent league. I did play-by-play of the games and a ton of other stuff. It was mostly a test for myself. I wanted to find out if I really liked play-by-play, and if I was any good at it.

Three months before that, I applied for a job with a radio station in Modesto. During my time in Texas, the radio station offered me the job. I did PBP for the Modesto Nuts of the Cal League, the high school football game of the week, and then started doing a talk show called, “JJ, Josh and The Mouth.” I heard about the Dodgers job, sent in a resume and demo reel, and did an interview over the phone. Then I did three different three-hour live auditions. I signed the contract after spring training had begun.

I moved all my stuff into a storage facility in L.A., flew to Vero Beach for two weeks, flew with the team to China for some exhibition games, flew to Arizona for a week, then back to L.A. to begin the 2008 season. I've lived out of a lot of suitcases. I knew that PBP was not part of the assignment.
Initially, I wasn't even interested in the job.

The move was just as much a lifestyle decision as a professional one. There's not much to do in Modesto. There's a few more things to do in L.A. Looking back, I felt fortunate to 'get out' of minor leagues after just one season. There's so many really talented announcers who've been stuck in the minors for a long time and deserve major league jobs. But these jobs don't open very often."

BS: Your favorite radio calls of all time, from any sport?

JS: "It's a TV call actually, but I think Al Michaels' 'Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!' is the greatest call ever. Not only are those the perfect words, but it was delivered with the perfect pitch. He didn't scream and go over the top. It's a reminder that less is more."

BS: What are your current responsibilities (in-season and pre-season) with KABC and/or the Dodgers?

JS: "During spring training, my new co-host Joe Block and I are doing Dodger Talk every day. Following the games that KABC broadcasts (which are weekend games and weekday nights), we do about a 45-minute show immediately after games. If the game isn't broadcast, we go from 6:30-7:00 p.m.

During the season, the primary job is co-hosting Dodger Talk. That's like the post-post show. I do the post-game interview from the dugout for the network post-game show. I contribute to the network pre-game show as well, mostly from a reporting standpoint. I'll do some reporting on the Dodgers for other KABC programs whenever they need it too."

BS: How do you deal with the obligatory, "let's trade Juan Castro and the out-of-retirement rights to Terry Whitfield for Roy Halladay and Albert Pujols" talk show caller?

JS: "Hey, I heard Whitfield had a great BP session the other day. It's part of the job. You have fun with the caller, and try to explain the dynamics of any transaction. You never know what's a ridiculous trade though. If somebody called in mid-July 2008 and said, 'the Dodgers should trade Andy LaRoche and some minor league pitcher for Manny Ramirez – and force the Red Sox to pay all of Manny's salary,' I'd have said he was insane."

BS: What are your ambitions in sports and/or media?

JS: "It's no secret that I want to do play by play. Those jobs are extremely difficult to get because there's a lot of really talented broadcasters, and they don't leave their jobs because they're so fabulous. I'm very happy with my current job. The Dodgers and KABC treat me very well, and I've been part of some special moments the last three seasons. Plus, I get my PBP fix in the offseason."

BS: Please tell me about your UCSB job.

JS: "I did play-by-play for the women's basketball team this offseason. It gave me something to do in the winter, allowed me to improve my PBP skills, and was a lot of fun. College basketball is my second favorite sport. Everybody at UC Santa Barbara was very friendly and welcoming. Plus, any excuse to go to Santa Barbara and do some wine tasting is a good thing, right?"

BS: Is there anything else you'd like to talk about, plug, etc?

JS: "The Dodgers were kind enough to throw Joe and I a bone, actually five bones. We're broadcasting five spring training games on TV. They are March 9, 10, 13, 15 and 17. All are on Prime Ticket in Los Angeles, and I'm pretty sure MLB Network is picking up three of them."

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