It has been 31 years since anyone but Dick Bremer described Twins games to the team's local television audience on a full-time basis, so their 2024 broadcasts are guaranteed to sound different.
Different — but not unfamiliar.
Cory Provus, who has called Twins games on radio since 2012, will inherit Bremer's spot in the TV booth next season. And the Twins will stay in-house to replace Provus on radio as well by promoting studio host and fill-in play-by-play voice Kris Atteberry to the everyday job.
"This is something I just really want to do," said Provus, 45. "I've always thought of myself as being ambitious and challenging myself, and this, to me, is the ultimate challenge. The idea of joining this group in this way, now, I think I would regret not at least trying."
Provus called a handful of games on Bally Sports North, including the Twins' home opener this year, after Bremer tested positive for COVID-19. When Provus was weighing whether to accept a role on a new broadcasting medium, he was told the next TV broadcaster will not have local blackouts.
The Twins haven't announced their next TV broadcasting partner after their contract with Diamond Sports Group, Bally Sports North's parent company, expired in October, but streaming will be available in addition to any of their cable, satellite or over-the-air options.
"Come 2024, Twins baseball is going to be more accessible," Provus said. "It's not going to solve every problem. I'm not naive to say it's going to solve every issue, but one big issue has been in this modern era for fans is to see baseball, watch Twins baseball. That, to me, was a huge driving point."
It's the second time Provus has succeeded a Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame member. He was hired from Milwaukee, where he worked alongside Bob Uecker, upon the retirement of John Gordon as the Twins radio voice a dozen seasons ago and now will step in for Bremer, who first called Twins games in 1983. Provus also spent two seasons as a backup broadcaster for the Cubs.
Though his baseball experience is limited to radio, Provus has called college football and basketball games for several years on TV networks FS1 and BTN — including Thursday's telecast of the Gophers' victory over New Orleans. He said he would continue doing basketball for the network but not football.
Atteberry, 51, was the voice of the St. Paul Saints from 2002 to '06 and has filled in for Gordon and Provus over the past 17 seasons. He also has hosted the radio broadcast's pregame and postgame shows on WCCO.
"When they told me, I was, I guess, relieved first," Atteberry said. "Then a little overwhelmed. Let's be honest, I've been calling big league games for 17 years not as the lead guy. There is a difference. I've called a billion games in my life. But to be the lead guy, that's what everybody wants. That's what I've wanted to be since I was a 6-year-old kid."
The Twins are expected to stick with their lineup of rotating analysts to work alongside Provus next season, with Justin Morneau, Roy Smalley, LaTroy Hawkins and Glen Perkins likely to be back. Dan Gladden, the team's radio analyst for 21 seasons, is also expected to return, though the Twins have made no announcements yet.
The Twins might have settled upon who will anchor their telecasts, but they are far less certain about where those telecasts will appear.
The bankruptcy of Diamond Sports Group, which operates Bally Sports North in Minnesota and more than a dozen other regional sports networks around the country, continues to drag on, with Diamond this week requesting an extension to March 28 — coincidentally, Major League Baseball's 2024 Opening Day — to propose a plan to pay its creditors or liquidate the business.
Why does this matter to the Twins, whose own contract with BSN expired last month? Because it appears no new broadcaster has offered to buy the team's television rights, or at least not on terms agreeable to the team. That likely means that the Twins will join the Padres, Diamondbacks and perhaps other former Diamond partners in having MLB produce and distribute their games, via cable, satellite and online streaming.
There is another possibility for baseball teams, however: reaching an agreement, as Diamond has negotiated with its NBA and NHL partners such as the Timberwolves and Wild, to televise one more season of games. That would give the teams more time to settle on a long-term distribution strategy, albeit almost certainly at far lower fees than the $55 million the Twins collected last year from BSN.
Negotiations are reportedly underway to see if that's possible, but teams like the Twins are growing impatient over the uncertainty, both with broadcasting plans and the enormous loss of revenue Diamond's bankruptcy will inflict. MLB has filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court to compel Diamond to guarantee they will pay all rights fees owed for 2024 or declare which teams' contracts they intend to cancel, as they did last year to the Padres and Diamondbacks and attempted to do to the Twins, Guardians and Rangers.
A hearing on that motion is scheduled for Dec. 16. The Twins should know shortly afterward whether BSN remains a plausible option for 2024.