ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) — Josh Lewin’s voice is known across the country.
He’s done play-by-play for major league baseball teams coast to coast, north and south and he got his start here while attending Brighton High School.
He’s currently an announcer for UCLA in California where he now lives.
Adam Chodak talked with him about his time in Rochester, his career and now that sports are on a hiatus some fun sports projects like The Throwback League podcast.
Here’s the Q&A from Adam’s interview with Josh Lewin:
Adam Chodak: I’m picturing you getting on the bus in Brighton and going to the stadium to announce the Red Wings game by yourself for yourself.
Josh Lewin: I was an audience of one and had my own pretend radio station that I called WJML which stood for Joshua Mark Lewin, but that’s where I sewed the seeds, that’s where it all kind of came together, where I started working on the craft if you want to call it that, those were good times for me, I was a bit of a loner, a bit of a rebel. I sound like Pee-wee Herman when I say that, but that’s kind of where it was.
AC: How did you go from the stands to the booth?
JL: It’s the whole rely on the kindness of strangers thing. Bob Goughan and Bill Terlecky, may he rest in peace, they were the co-general managers, they kind of figured out what I was up to, broadcasting to myself down there in the stands and 38 degrees as there can be some nights in Rochester, they took pity on me and they invited me to the actual press box and it was just over and I said whatever I need to do to stay up here I’m going to do it so and I said I’m your unpaid intern starting now and they found enough stuff for me to do and it all worked out.
AC: You graduated from Northwestern and there was a job with the Red Wings just waiting for you…
JL: Yeah, I got lucky timing wise. Jay Colley was the long-time voice of the Red Wings … he was leaving and I was ready for a full-time gig, so the planets aligned correctly and I was able to start in my hometown with Triple A ball at the age of 21 and that’s a real blessing because most people have to go trucking off to somewhere in the middle of Idaho and start at Single A ball and I never at to do that.
AC: You went on to Baltimore given the connection with Rochester. Then you’re talking about the Rangers, the Red Sox, the Mets. It’s been an incredible career for you, so what is the secret when it comes to play-by-play?
JL: I think with play-by-play it’s about making sure the mail gets delivered so to speak and people are counting on you to tell them what’s going on either because they’re not there or they don’t have the insight that you have access to so I’ve always seen it as kind of a sacred responsibility.
AC: Sportscasters often have it in their blood…
JL: Oh, I knew at 5 this is what I wanted to do. No astronaut or fireman talk or anything like that, I just wanted to do this. I think that’s good and bad. I think when you’re a kid you’re supposed to dream and leave yourself a whole bunch of opportunities but I kind of had this Captain Ahab single-mindedness pursuit of this is what I want and I’m going to go get it and I think I missed a lot of things along the way, there were a lot of things I didn’t try, who knows what I might have also enjoyed but I just decided at a very young age that this is who I wanted to be and I just kind of went for it.
AC: In Rochester one would think oh, you can’t listen to the big games, but as you’ve said before we had a lot of different cities and their broadcasts come into our area…
JL: Pre-Sirius XM radio you couldn’t flip on a switch and listen to whatever you wanted to and watch whatever you wanted to. Not to sound like I’m a hundred but back in the day you had your AM radio and Rochester is so beautifully geographically situated you could pull in from pretty much anywhere other than anything west of the Mississippi so I heard Harry Caray in Chicago and I heard the guys in Philly and Pittsburgh and Detroit and obviously Baltimore and New York and fell in love with it. So I had these teachers who were available through my radio every night.
AC: You’ve been taking some time lately to do play-by-play of some interesting events at the house.
JL: COVID kind of put us in this situation where I’m in the events business and there are no events so I decided at the end of March, why not create some events out of nothing and they were just the most mundane things I could think of. I did a couple dozen of them and threw them up on YouTube and Twitter and it seemed to amuse some people. I find myself just going there these days, just doing things that amuse not only myself, but other people out there. And this Throwback Week podcast I started I think is the best example where it’s a bunch of World Series teams from my youth, my nostalgia, kind of mid-70s to maybe the mid-double Os, March Madness, had a bracket, played the season out, I had a computer simulate it out. I took the play-by-play results into my home studio and recreated the games and one by one they were being shot out like a little Pez dispenser here with the sound effects so that’s been a fun project too and I think for all of us now it’s about trying to stay creative and trying to stay sane