Posted: February 8th, 2016 | By: Alison Moran
Jason Benetti (JD’11) was featured in an article by the Desplaines Valley News website about his life and his new position as the White Sox play-by-play announcer. The original article is as follows:
Born 10 weeks premature, with a mild case of cerebral palsy, new White Sox broadcaster and Homewood native Jason Benetti never let it stop him from achieving his dreams.
The lifelong White Sox fan will do play-by-play in the broadcast booth, alongside Steve Stone, whom Benetti called “an oracle of knowledge,” for 78 of the 81 White Sox home games, replacing Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who opted for a lighter schedule this year.
How did he get here?
“I had fantastic parents, who always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do,” said Benetti, now 32. “And my grandmother.”
What the only child of Rob and Sue Benetti, of Homewood, “wanted to do” was sports broadcasting, and play-by-play specifically.
His training ground was Homewood-Flossmoor high school’s broadcast program. WHFH, at 1,500 watts, is the most powerful high school station in the country.
Under the tutelage of Bob Comstock, the English teacher who ran the broadcasting program, Benetti was one of a long line of H-F broadcast graduates who successfully transitioned to a successful sports career, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, his brother, ESPN Radio’s Randy Merkin, CSN Chicago’s Chuck Garfien, and ABC-TV weekend anchor/reporter Ben Bradley.
“Bob gave me the best advice … to major in something other than broadcasting. “Benetti recalled. “He encouraged us to have broad interests, outside of journalism or broadcasting. So I majored in psychology. Then, I went to law school.”
Benetti continued his education at another top broadcasting school, Syracuse University, which has graduated the likes of Bob Costas, and locally, WBBM-AM’s Dave Koerner.
As a fresh-faced 22-year-old graduate, Benetti was a “fan favorite,” according to the Windy City Thunderbolts website, (then called the Cook County Cheetahs) in Crestwood, who hired him as a their play-by-play announcer in 2005.
Benetti’s style and humor got him noticed by the Houston Astros’ Single-A affiliate Salem Avalanche just a year later.
Law school at Wake Forest University gave him more perspective on broadcasting.
“At law school, I learned how to be an advocate for clients, and that helps me today, being a good advocate of the team,” he said.
While at Wake Forest, he was the voice of the High Point Panthers basketball games, as well as the play-by-play analyst for Washington National’s Triple A affiliate Syracuse Chiefs baseball, and broadcast high school football for Time-Warner Cable Sports Channel.
ESPN came calling in 2011. Benetti called select college basketball games for ESPN3 and then move onto ESPN2 and ESPNU. In 2013 Benetti called his first football game for AAC Network. As time permits, he’ll continue to broadcast college basketball games on the ESPN and college football for the AAC Network.
And now, the White Sox. Of all the broadcasters they could have chosen, why Benetti?
“He got the job because he’s really a good broadcaster, not because of the side stories,” Brooks Boyer, the White Sox chief marketing officer, told the Chicago Tribune. “What stands out is his ability to broadcast a game.” That, and a strong recommendation from Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper, according to the Tribune.
Benetti doesn’t forget about others with disabilities. He’s active in the United Cerebral Palsy Association, serving as a mentor. He prefers to let his activism show “By just walking around and doing a good job at what I do. That’s the best bully pulpit.”