Pete Bercich has spent most of his life around football -- first as a player, then as coach -- so he's no stranger to receiving criticism that only at times could be termed constructive.
That's why, five games into his stint as the Vikings radio analyst, he is most interested in hearing feedback on how he can improve.
"Even when you are a coach, you get coached, so I'm used to it and know it's not personal," said Bercich, a former Vikings linebacker (1995-2000) and assistant coach (2002-05). "I'm confident I know football, but I don't know broadcasting."
Bercich, 35, who received his first extensive radio experience last year when he made a weekly appearance on KFAN's morning show, was hired to replace Joe Senser. Chad Abbott, the program director of Vikings flagship KFAN (1130 AM) and a producer of the team's radio network, credits Bercich with being eager to learn. "His interviewing has gotten better, his commercial reads have gotten better," Abbott said.
Bercich's work in the Vikings' 24-3 victory over Atlanta in their regular-season opener was solid, considering it was only his fifth game. He provided some excellent insight and his expertise of X's and O's was obvious; on occasion he did make references that many listeners probably aren't going to understand without further elaboration.
It's going to take some time for chemistry to develop on the three-person broadcast team that includes play-by-play guy Paul Allen and sideline reporter/analyst Greg Coleman. Allen, Coleman and Senser had worked together long enough that there was a level of comfort in who talked and when. Senser, for instance, would often directly address Coleman on the sideline.
"What he's doing now is positioning himself like he was when he was a player," Abbott said. "He's listening to feedback after the game and basically reviewing film. He's more in the learning process and absorbing everything and asking a lot of questions. He really wants to get better."
Wolves looking at Thomas
Matt Thomas, who has been a sports-talk host at KSTP (1500 AM) since January and previously has called Division I college basketball, is among those who have been contacted by the Timberwolves about their vacant radio play-by-play position.
Thomas, however, has a three-year contract with KSTP and the Hubbard-owned station could block him from leaving. The Wolves' hire would be employed by the team and call games on BOB 106 FM.
"The NBA is my dream play-by-play opportunity," Thomas said. "KSTP and the Hubbards have been phenomenal to me, though, and I owe them a lot."
Another name that has surfaced in the Wolves' search is Edina native Rick Kamla of NBA TV. WNBA announcers Craig Ackerman of the Houston Comets and Andrew Monaco of San Antonio Silver Stars remain in the mix. Brian Sieman, who called games for the Wolves last season, has taken a job calling games for the Los Angeles Clippers.
A poor choice
Considering the number of quality play-by-play announcers on the ESPN payroll, one has to question how the network landed on Mike Greenberg to call the second game of the Monday doubleheader between the Cardinals and 49ers this week.
No doubt "The Worldwide Leader" saw the late game of the double dip as a chance to promote its morning radio show and decided that was more important than putting together the best possible announcing team. That left viewers with Greenberg and his radio show co-host, Mike Golic, in the booth with Mike Ditka. Greenberg was put in a position to fail.
Dark Star has signed a multiyear contract to continue being the host of a weeknight program on WCCO (830 AM), but he is shaving Friday off his schedule once the Vikings season ends. He will remain in the 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. slot Monday through Thursday.
Crystal Clear Sports (www.CrystalClearWebcast.com) will have a pay-per-view webcast of the Rushford-Peterson vs. Zimmerman football game at 7 tonight in Hopkins. The game is being played in the metro because of the floods that damaged the southeastern region of the state. The pay-per-view proceeds will be donated to Rushford-Peterson High School. Crystal Clear will offer the Rushford game, along with six others tonight, for $9.99.
Judd Zulgad firstname.lastname@example.org