If you follow Jason Benetti on Twitter, you’ve seen his post with a picture of a stadium floor and a request to share the first person that comes to mind.
Let’s play that game, but change the picture. Instead, imagine a sportscaster in Chicago and what that person is going to think.
That’s what I did for my third annual Chicago sports media rankings, which examine the market’s television and radio sports broadcasters based on appeal, quality, longevity and, of course, personal preference. With the help of a crack support staff, these rankings are even more accurate than last year’s.
More than 100 names were considered. The top 20 follows with last year’s ranking in parentheses. And new this year I included the bottom five. Hey, it’s a tough business.
1. Adam Amin (2): He was up for Fox’s No. 2 NFL team — which is an accomplishment in itself — but unfortunately, the network chose Joe Davis. Amin is better than him at football and did an excellent job in the No. 3 team. He also called an exciting Dodgers-Padres playoff series for Fox. He’s in his third season calling the Bulls with analyst Stacey King, and they’ve become the most entertaining tandem in town. Amin has a strong voice and is prepared beyond reproach. There’s nothing he couldn’t call.
2. Jason Benetti (1): It was a big year for Benetti, who was the voice of the Peacock’s package of Sunday MLB games, then left ESPN for Fox, calling his first NFL game on TV. His primary work there is college football and basketball, and Fox gives him higher-profile football games than ESPN did. He and White Sox analyst Steve Stone make up one of the most popular booths in baseball.
3. Pat Hughes (3): Making the Cubs Hall of Fame was nice, but making the Baseball Hall of Fame was incredible. He is sure to give a wonderful induction speech in July. The radio voice of the Cubs since 1996 has added some television to his resume on the Marquee Sports Network, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
4. Laurence Holmes (7): He went from his own two-hour show on The Score to a four-hour extravaganza with Dan Bernstein, the highest-rated sports radio show in town. He also returned to host the “Football Aftershow” on NBC Sports Chicago. Add in his podcast work and Holmes has a media empire.
5. Danny Parkins (6): Parkins is a return to sports radio. He has engaged in stunts and antics that evoke memories of bygone radio days. Allowing listeners to watch them on The Score’s Twitch stream adds to the fun. He is also not afraid to push the envelope or stir the pot. It can provide good radio.
6. Marc Silverman (8): Any “Silvy” rant comes from decades of Chicago sports fandom. Listeners can feel it. He’s patient and polite with callers, and his banter with colleagues shows just how tight the ESPN 1000 crew is. He and Tom Waddle are the longest running radio partners in town.
7. Dan Bernstein (11): When Leila Rahimi left her regular gig at The Score, I was in favor of Bernstein working alone. But he and Holmes (with weekly appearances by Rahimi) have let go of that thought. It’s crazy to think back to how angry he used to sound. Now he is more, dare we say, pleasant.
8. Jon Sciambi (4): Speaking of pleasant, that’s exactly how you’d describe listening to “Boog” call a Cubs game with Jim Deshaies at the Marquee. Sciambi also calls plum college basketball games for ESPN, but his big job this year will eventually be calling the World Series for ESPN Radio.
9. Leila Rahimi (10): The daily gig at The Score ended when she was promoted to lead sports anchor at NBC 5. She also returned to NBC Sports Chicago, filling in for Jason Goff on the Bulls’ pre- and postgame shows. It was like she never left (not that she wanted to).
10. Jason Goff (5): Speaking of Goff, he still does a great job hosting the Bulls shows, the best shoulder programming in town. Goff, Kendall Gill and Will Perdue are so comfortable on set that it’s as if the cameras aren’t there. After games you feel like you need to hear what they think.
11. Stacey King (12): You always hear what King is thinking, often with his unique flair. He’s good at breaking down plays.
12. Steve Stone (16): Stoney isn’t shy about sharing his thoughts either. He is still one of the best analysts in the game.
13. Ozzie Guillen (18): The Mouth of the South Side is a must-watch for Sox fans after games, especially tough losses.
14. David Kaplan (9): He’s gone from TV now, but you can still watch him on YouTube and listen to him on ESPN 1000.
15. Dionne Miller (20): Adding to her ESPN 1000 work, she hosted a Saturday show with Peggy Kusinski. The ABC 7 anchor tied Guillen as the biggest risers on the list.
16. Len Kasper (17): Put him on Sox radio or TV and you’ll get a good broadcast every time.
17. Tom Waddle (13): He talks best about football – not so much the overly personal things he shares.
18. Matt Spiegel (NR): Next month he will celebrate two years in the same time frame with the same partner. It is persistence that pays off.
19. Chuck Swirsky (NR): He still calls a great game and his friendliness and positivity are second to none.
20. Zach Zaidman (NR): It’s nice that he’s calling more Cubs games while Hughes occasionally moves to TV, but his DePaul basketball broadcasts are excellent.
Dropped out: Pat Foley (14), Eddie Olczyk (15), Olin Kreutz (19).
Colby Cohen: He’s at his best providing analysis between the benches on Blackhawks broadcasts. It has helped a new TV team that is solving the problems. But of all the studio analysts in town, Cohen is the only one not connected to the home team, and that matters to viewers. Additionally, he didn’t have an awe-inspiring NHL career.
Dave Corzine: It’s great that DePaul reached into his story for a radio analyst. It’s not great that he sounds like he swallowed a handful of thumbs. Corzine’s voice is so raspy that it is sometimes difficult to understand. He’s still close to the Blue Demons, so don’t expect a change. But one is late.
“Mully & Haugh”: Which voice does Mike Mulligan speak in the most: The one that growls and guffaws or the one that is gravelly with a hint of Bert from “Sesame Street”? David Haugh used to write at length for the Tribune. Now he talks at length about The Score. His personality doesn’t fit a morning show.
Jim Rose: He’s been on ABC 7 for 40 years – and it’s a strange how. It’s easy to question his preparation from watching his sportscasts. He has mispronounced names and his voice-overs may not be in sync with the highlights. Rose’s contract expires in September. The situation bears watching.
Cole Wright: Marquee host should take cue from ‘Hamilton’: Talk less. Wright is a catchphrase that belongs on “SportsCenter” circa 1995. He calls the Brewers “the Brewers” and has renamed Wrigley Field “the federal landmark.” Please stop. And stop pointing your notecard at the viewers. That is impolite.