Interview With New Mets Radio Voice Keith Raad
With Wayne Randazzo accepting a position with the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Mets hired Brooklyn Cyclones radio announcer Keith Raad to join Howie Rose on WCBS 880 for the 2023 season. Raad was kind enough to agree to an interview to discuss his journey:
Congratulations on being named one of the New York Mets radio announcers for the 2023 season. Certainly, this must be a dream come true. Tell us about your journey from being a local boy and Chaminade High School graduate to being one of the radio voices of the New York Mets.
It’s a dream come true to make it to the Major Leagues and it’s even more surreal to do it in the city that I grew up in. New York City has always been a larger-than-life place for entertainment and of course that list includes sports. Growing up on Long Island, I learned about what kind of skills I had when attending Chaminade. The Marianist brothers and the teachers taught me how to write and the importance of public speaking — those things rung true within me. That led me to a degree in Communications in college at the University of Dayton where I jumped right in looking to combine my love of language, writing, speaking, and listening with baseball. I’ve spent close to 10 years calling games and eight years in the minor leagues. It’s so satisfying to pay my dues and jump into the Majors.
The Brooklyn Cyclones have the slogan “Amazin’ Starts Here!” As fans, we see that with players like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo. However, as we see both you and Jake Eisenberg, now the Kansas City Royals radio voice, that applies to broadcasters as well. What is so unique about Brooklyn that it has served as a springboard to the majors for broadcasters like yourself.
First off, to be a Brooklyn broadcaster means you have to have a love — and a major respect — for history. In Brooklyn, Red Barber, Vin Scully, Connie Desmond, Ernie Harwell and many others called games for the Dodgers. Those voices came out of the origin of radio as a medium to deliver the game to an audience. By learning from how these guys did their thing in this borough, Jake and I were able to treat the job with great care and respect. The Cyclones enabled me to go from an up-and-coming broadcaster looking for his voice to being one who uses his voice and personality, trying to model it after guys like Howie Rose who I will now join in the booth.
Speaking of your time in Brooklyn, we are now well aware of the struggles for minor leaguers. Lesser known is all the duties and responsibilities of working for a minor league team. Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of working with you for group outings for various groups. I know I was shocked to be dealing with one of the broadcasters. For fans unaware, can you please share for us what a typical day is like for a minor league broadcaster?
Ha, so most situations are similar, but every once in a while as a minor league broadcaster, sales duties are part of the deal. That’s what enabled me to be a full-time member of the front office. In a typical day, I would arrive to the park at 10 a.m. and jump on the phones and email trying to sell tickets for group outings, season ticket holders, and sponsorships. I would do that until about 1 or 2 p.m. before jumping into my media relations duties, including writing our daily game notes, printing statpacks for the teams and the press box, distributing rosters and lineups. In the early afternoon, I would help the video staff grab players for social media videos. During batting practice, I tried to be around the turtle on the field just absorbing how the guys are acting and maybe asking a question or two to the players. Following batting practice, I would do about a five-minute pregame interview with a guest. All the while helping local media talk to any players or coaches they were interested in speaking to. Around 5:15 is when I actually can sit down, write in my scorebook and begin prepping for the game that night. Lots of work! I would leave around 10:30-11 a.m. an take the 75-minute subway home, rest, and get ready to do it all over again.
Obviously, that is a grueling experience. What was it that kept you going during those long days and undertaking so many responsibilities beyond just the broadcasting?
The minor leagues tend to ask you a question rather quickly: can you do this? And by that, I mean are you willing to “eat it” for years and years with low pay and long hours to make the majors? For me, I’m much more interested in going for the difficult things in life because we only have one go-around on Earth so why not? But I stuck with it because it is such a high-risk, high-reward pathway. And, looking back at all of those tarp pulls and low pay and feel so incredibly satisfied to now get to enjoy the reward of working in the big leagues.
What was your favorite moment as the broadcaster with the Brooklyn Cyclones?
By far the best moment came in 2019 during the 48 hours of winning the New York Penn League Championship, celebrating that night, and then going to Citi Field the following night as VIPs. My call of “Brooklyn, you have your title” after beating Lowell on September 10th led right into a champagne celebration with the team as well as the front office staff who worked so hard that year. Then at Citi Field, the Mets were kind enough to celebrate everyone (players, coaches and our front office) with a double suite and a video board tribute to our championship.
You’ve seen a number of talented players pass through Brooklyn. Who were some of the best players you’ve seen during your tenure?
Francisco Alvarez has some incredible raw power. His fiery attitude of wanting to be the best and refusing to compromise with any limitations makes me think he’ll have an incredible career. I think Alex Ramirez is extremely talented and already plays with a tremendous about of confidence — which you need in this game. Brett Baty is the most polished hitter I’ve personally seen in a Cyclones uniform. And with Ronny Mauricio, he’s really, really close to figuring it all out.
Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
This is a really tough question because at different stages of my career, there have been several different voices who have been critical. However, my first MiLB boss Tom Nichols in Dayton with the Dragons (Cincinnati Single-A) believed in me before anyone else did. He not only took a chance on me hiring me as an intern in the middle of college, but he also called me one summer during junior year getting my mind towards a summer collegiate job and getting me going. Without him, I certainly would not have had the direction and the structure to this career.
Understanding you were a New York Yankees fan growing up (we won’t hold it against you), who was your favorite player growing up, and if you could indulge us, your favorite Mets player?
Yeah, I get this one a lot obviously. It’s New York. I have to be honest. I grew up a Yankees fan, but the last five years with the Cyclones and the Mets have built bonds within me that grow miles deeper than any childhood fandom. I love the Mets. I pull for the Mets. The Mets are my family. But to throw you an even larger curveball, Albert Pujols was by far my favorite player. I modeled my baseball swing after him because I loved the art of hitting. Growing up, my Mets fandom struck right around 98-99-00 when I would go to Shea. There were so many cool players like Fonzie and John Franco. But I remember Benny Agbayani — I thought it was so awesome that he wore #50 because he was Hawaiian and that was the 50th state.
Years ago, a former Cyclones player Nicco Blank, reached out on Twitter to try to get Taylor Swift to see him pitch in Brooklyn. If you could have anyone tune the dial to WCBS 880 to hear you call a game, who would it be?
Ha, this is a great question. The answer is actually someone who already might be listening whether I know it or not. But my answer is Jerry Seinfeld! I grew up watching reruns of the show and immediately connected with his humor and started to follow his career (even though it already started haha). I view him as a role model. Comedians are very much like broadcasters in a few ways: we feel our journey is alone, we cut our teeth doing games/gigs for little to no money, and we’re constantly trying to listen back and critique our work on a nightly basis.
As you embark on this job, what is the moment you are anticipating most?
This is an easy one: the roar of the crowd. It’ll be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on the air.
What is your message to Mets fans?
Let’s laugh, let’s have a good time, and let’s win a World Series.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and good luck during the 2023 season.