NEWS

Q&A with Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre

Cody Thorn

In a move that might have flown under the radar a bit, the Kansas City Royals will have a different sound when the 2008 season begins. Ryan Lefebvre, who started broadcasting in 1995 and joined the Royals in 1999, will leave his spot on the radio with Hall of Fame broadcaster Denny Matthews and move to the television side.

Lefebvre and Paul Splittorff will be the play-by-play voices and faces for the Royals as the team makes the transition from Royals Sports Television Network to Fox Sports Kansas City, a new branch of the Fox Sports family that will allow more people to see the Royals play.

Lefebvre has filled in on the television side over the past two years, as he and Bob Davis have traded spots for various games to give fans a glimpse of both broadcasters.

Lefebvre, however, will not totally be out of the radio side of the Royals. He, along with new hire Steve Stewart, formerly of the Reds, will fill in when Davis leaves for his commitments to Kansas University play-by-play duties.

Lefebvre, traveling with the Royals Caravan this week, sat down to talk about the change -- from the Royals angle and from his personal perspective -- in an exclusive interview Wednesday afternoon in Joplin.

When did the transition start for you to go down another path?

“In Kansas City it seems like a big deal. I arrived as a radio guy and then I was doing about 25 to 40 TV games but was considered mostly a radio guy. When I was in Minnesota, before I came to Kansas City, I was primarily a TV guy. I took the Royals job because I wanted more radio experience. It might seem like a big jump here, but in some ways, I’m going back to where I began. In fact, my first season, in ’95 with the Twins, I was only doing television. I enjoy doing both, and I will still get to do some radio, but with FOX taking over -- and there was some talk about a different broadcast -- it worked out great. We didn’t change announcers, just Bob Davis and I kind of flip flopped.”

How much experience did you gain in radio that you will take with you?

“I learned a ton. Working with Denny (Matthews), I learned more from him than I have anyone else. I worked more games with him than anyone else in my career. What I learned from him, more than anything was this:

“When I was in Minnesota being a play-by-play announcer, I was hesitant to add my own analysis. Because I felt that -- I played baseball, (but) I wasn’t a major league player -- I didn’t have the credentials to give my analysis and be a color commentary. Denny didn’t play in major leagues either, but he has been around a lot of manager, coaches and players. He has read a lot and had great knowledge of the game and wasn’t bashful about sharing that knowledge. So that is probably the biggest thing I take back from the television side. Without having major league experience, I have been around a lot of guys that taught me a lot about the game. I don’t feel, ‘I don’t have the credentials, I can’t share this.’”

How big will this transition be from the Royals in a marketing standpoint? Will more people see it?

“That is the first thing, going from 115 games to 140 games. You are only talking about 22 games that won’t be televised. Not only will we have more games on, but because its FOX in markets like Joplin where you are in the Cardinals and Royals territory, you won’t have much as one or the other. There will be opportunity you will get as much Royals (games) and you will Cardinals. More games, not only better on the schedule, but very few games missed because of a conflict with the Cardinals. RSTN did a great job of getting on cable systems, but FOX is engrained with not only big cable systems, but in some cases the smaller systems that might not have RSTN but may have FOX. This is a good move for Royals fans.”

What have you noticed this offseason compared with other offseasons? Is it different for you seeing the Royals chase players like Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter?

“Even though the Royals didn’t get Torii Hunter or Andruw Jones, they were in there. It wasn’t a token ‘we are in the mix.’ They were really in the mix. They were making competitive deals. I think the fans recognize it. Even though we didn’t get those two guys, I think the fans realize those guys seriously considered the Royals or even, if they didn’t, it had nothing to do with money. In the past, you would get in with a Torii Hunter or an Andruw Jones and you make a financial offer and you are nowhere near what they are asking for. I think it all started last year with Gil Meche. You go out and get Gil Meche and Jose Guillen this year, even though he seems like he was the third of the three, if you factor in Hunter and Jones. From the very beginning, Dayton Moore said this was a guy we were interested in and went out and got him.”

Obviously you’ve seen this team lose 100 games way too many times. What does this say about the Royals? It seems they are taking steps forward to be more.

“It’s the best young talent we’ve had since I’ve been here. There is no question about that at all. The young talent (is here), but they have to be competitive. This division is so good. Detroit is reloading. Cleveland was one game away from the World Series. Chicago has way more talent to finish where they did last year and Minnesota will always be competitive. They better be competitive.”

Neosho Daily News