Jon Rish is leaving WEEI for CGI.
He’s giving up the booth for a reboot.
He’s trading the Red Sox for Red Hat.
There are many more ways I could go with this.
But in the end, could you really blame him?
Rish has been a part of the Red Sox Radio Network, based at flagship WEEI in Boston, for the last eight years, serving as pregame and postgame host, as well as substitute play-by-play voice on the days where Dave O’Brien is taking care of business for ESPN, where Rish had worked for a half-dozen years – specifically, ESPN Radio – before joining WEEI.
However, it was at some point during the last season – Bobby Valentine’s lone one as Sox skipper – that Rish had an epiphany: He could continue working radio broadcasts for the Red Sox, which some may consider a dream job – and with them holding the most lucrative radio deal for a baseball team, higher even than the archrival New York Yankees, it should be a fine class to be associated with. And you would think that with the highest paying radio deal in MLB, would come a big fat paycheck.
But then he looked at the bigger picture: his family, including four children, ages 2 through 12.
And then, he probably noticed WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, making drastic moves, including the ouster of longtime Boston sports radio voice Glenn Ordway.
“It became clear towards the end of the 2012 season that there was a very real possibility that my future was not with Entercom.”
Why else would Rish officially decide that he would be announcing his plans to leave WEEI and the Red Sox Radio Network – albeit, a mere three hours before the first pitch was thrown on Opening Day at Fenway Park on Monday. Though the fact that Rish has been good friends with WEEI program director Jason Wolfe for the last two decades played a large role in the abrupt fashion of his impending departure.
“I didn’t want to tell Jason by phone,” Rish affirmed. “I wanted to tell him in person. He was speechless.”
I bet Rish was equally speechless when Entercom asked him to take a pay cut of 30% – one that he turned down.
“It wasn’t fair to me and it wasn’t workable for my family,” Rish said. “I will say I could no longer justify working for Entercom.
“But it was not as difficult a decision for me as you might think,” he continued. “It was not a difficult decision to explain to my wife.”
Five years ago, Rish disclosed to a Massachusetts newspaper his hopes for a full-time play-by-play job. “But when you wait for the opportunity for so long, you’re not picky.”
Now with a son entering high school soon, and three daughters that will eventually follow suit, working Red Sox games on an understudy basis just won’t cut it, and he doesn’t hear any other pro sports teams fighting for his talents, so Rish is going to leave sports broadcasting entirely.
He’s saying goodbye to sports media – and hello to software media.
That’s right. Through his alma mater, Boston College – whose athletics are another notch on his play-by-play resume – he consulted with a career coach, who encouraged him to pursue an opportunity in the technology field.
And starting next month, Rish will take a ten-week class on how to become a Ruby software developer.
If successful, two major perks come with the gig: First of all, software programmers are in high demand (you don’t see many sports teams hiring announcers mid-season); and more importantly, they could actually make more money than most sports broadcasters not named Joe Buck or Jim Nantz. But it’s not completely due to programmers’ vast knowledge and skills.
“The state of the radio industry isn’t what it used to be,” Rish admits.
Rish will continue working Red Sox games for just a couple more weeks, and then after a week to recharge the batteries, he’ll start reporting to Launch Academy for Ruby On Rails classes.
Jon Rish. Transitioning from sports programming to computer programming.
This month, RBI’s; next month, RGB.
Out: stats. In: stacks.
I think I’ve made my point.