There will be at least two new announcers joining the Seattle Sounders broadcast team this year as the decision has been made to split play-by-play duties between TV and radio, Sounder at Heart has learned through sources familiar with the Seattle radio scene. While we've so far been unable to confirm the new TV play-by-play voice, we have learned that Matt Johnson will be the Sounders' first dedicated radio announcer.
Johnson should be a familiar name to Sounders fans, especially to those that have followed them on the radio in the past. Johnson served as the host of the Sounders' pregame and postgame shows from at least 2010-2014, hosted a Sounders-focused weekend show on KIRO for some of that time and even wrote periodically for the Sounders' website. More recently, Johnson hosted a Seahawks podcast. Johnson was one of the public-facing casualties of the Sounders-Seahawks business split, though, as he had been pulling double duty as the executive director of both radio networks. It is believed that Johnson will no longer work for the Seahawks.
If there's one knock against Johnson it's that he has limited (if any) play-by-play experience. That may also be part of why the Sounders elected to split the play-by-play job, though, as Johnson will have a much more limited audience if he experiences any growing pains.
Splitting the role should also equate to a better listening experience for Sounders fans who only experience the match through the radio. As good as Arlo White and Ross Fletcher were at pulling double duty, there was never any doubt as to their primary audience. Both announcers were from the school of less-is-more when it came to commentating on TV and were more than happy to let the action on the pitch speak for itself at times. While this made for exceptional listening on TV, a radio listener could feel a bit left out.
Whether Johnson will have a partner or go solo also remains unclear, but Wade Webber will likely be involved in the broadcast in some capacity. Weber was recently hired as a Sounders Academy coach and has previously been featured in pre- and postgame radio coverage.