Marty Brennaman Is Still Coming In Loud and Clear

Marty Brennaman Is Still Coming In Loud and Clear

Marty Brennaman has been the voice of the Reds for more than four decades. But his most impressive feat has been keeping a voice of his own.

Craig Fehrman

His name is Franchester Martin Brennaman Jr. But you can call him Marty.

For the last 44 seasons, he’s handled the play-by-play on Reds radio broadcasts, and he’s always done it pretty much the same way. Each night, he eases into one of the best seats in the house. (At Great American Ball Park, the radio booth hovers just above home plate on the first base side.) He opens his score book, kept with an idiosyncratic system of symbols and tidbits and notes, and lines up the tools for maintaining that system: red pen, blue pen, highlighter, No. 1 pencil, white-out pen, plus backups of each. He stacks the pieces of paper containing his in-game promos. He slips on his chunky Sony headphones. And then Marty watches the game closely—the action and the possibility, the successes and the screw-ups—and tells you exactly what he sees.

The Cincinnati Reds, after some stops and starts, began consistently broadcasting games on radio in 1931. That means the franchise has now passed more years with Marty on the radio than years without him. And he’s still the team’s biggest nightly interpreter. According to Nielsen, Reds games on Fox Sports Ohio have drawn between 30,000 and 40,000 nightly television viewers in recent seasons. Marty’s broadcasts reach more than twice that many fans—and that’s just in Cincinnati, before you factor in the Reds’ other 109 radio affiliates or WLW’s near-national signal.

Given Marty’s longevity and ubiquity, he’s arguably the franchise’s most famous employee, even including the guys in the dugout. “Think of how many different incarnations the team has had over the last 44 years,” says Mo Egger, a sports talk host on ESPN1530 and WLW. “You knew they were going to fire the manager and the general manager soon enough. You knew they were going to cycle through more players. But Marty was the guy who was going to be there. There’s something comforting about that.”

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