CHICAGO -- Darrin Jackson has no specific idea how the White Sox radio broadcast booth will work in 2021 with Len Kasper, the newly hired play-by-play voice coming over after 16 years on television with the Cubs.
That scenario will begin to play out in Spring Training. But Jackson already has been thinking about the new on-air pairing with great excitement.
“I know two things,” Jackson told MLB.com during a recent interview. “I know he’s great at what he does, and I know I like to have fun, break down the game. And I know he’s going to make me better just because he’s a great broadcaster.
“I’m going to play off of him. I know we are going to get along great. That’s the No. 1 thing. Now it’s going to matter about the chemistry and the timing, and let’s see what I can do to make him have a good day and have some fun up there and what he can do to tee me up and make me sound like I know what I’m talking about. I’m going to try to have a lot of fun up there.”
Jackson enters his 22nd year of having fun as part of White Sox broadcasts, with the games moving to ESPN 1000 as the new radio flagship. He is the elder statesman, so to speak, in terms of purely White Sox broadcast time and calls that distinction “kind of surreal.”
This Jackson run began with Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the 2020 Ford C. Frick winner, from 2000-08 on the White Sox television side one year after Jackson retired as a player. Jackson then moved to radio analyst alongside Ed Farmer, the charismatic, iconic broadcast presence, who passed away at the age of 70 on April 1. Andy Masur did a strong job working with Jackson during the abbreviated 2020 campaign, where the duo called all 60 games from Guaranteed Rate Field.
Harrelson taught Jackson a great deal about broadcasting a game, including how to watch the field.
“When I got up there, I could give you the baseball information. That wasn’t hard. I just left the baseball field. I know how to teach the game,” Jackson said. “I watched what he did. I watched his cadence, his timing on when you should pause, when you should interject something, and he helped me.
“Always entertaining, never boring. I learned so much just by listening and watching him and taking his advice. He always gave little hints of advice because he let you do what you were going to do, and you were on your own. But when he interjected, it was to benefit you and make you better at what you were doing.”
The things Jackson learned from Farmer transcended broadcasting.
“It’s just about community, organization, the city. His giving, his involvement in the city of Chicago and the White Sox organization just was unmatched,” Jackson said. “I realize I need to be more involved and do more for people away from the game of baseball because of Ed.
“Within the broadcasting part, just the comedic part of being in a broadcast. Just going back and forth. We were like Laurel and Hardy. We could get sidetracked from the game of baseball, that’s obvious. It wasn’t your basic broadcast: Here’s your play by play and here’s you analysis. It’s going to be a conversation with baseball mixed in. It was unique and different. It was never boring.”
Kasper and Jackson have talked since Kasper joined the White Sox and of course talked frequently over the years when the White Sox played the Cubs. Kasper will end up with a Hall of Fame career, in Jackson’s mind, and Jackson’s candor and knowledge will be part of this next stage.
“I’ve been so lucky with all the partners I’ve had. I miss Ed Farmer to tears every day still. He’s like a brother to me,” Jackson said. “I had such a great time working with Andy. He was phenomenal to come in and do the things he’s done filling in on a pinch and under a lot of stress trying to come into the transitional time after Ed, and I’m sad that Andy is not there because we got along great.
“With Len there, I know we are going to have a great relationship as well. The truth is we always have. Every time we’ve been together, it’s been really good. It’s a great feeling to realize I’ve been able to stay up there as part of the White Sox organization all this time. It’s home. I’m lucky and I’m honored to have been in this organization for now 22 years.”