The Charlotte Hornets have hired WFNZ host Chris Kroeger as their new radio play-by-play announcer, replacing the retired Steve Martin.
Kroeger has done the team's pre-game show, plus sideline reporting at home games. He will leave his midday show on sports-talk station WFNZ AM-610 to go to work full-time for the NBA team. The Hornets announcement said Kroeger will also have a presence on hornets.com and the team's social-media platforms.
Kroeger replaces a Charlotte institution in Martin, who called the first 30 years of Hornets basketball, here or in New Orleans, since the NBA expanded to Charlotte in 1988. Martin moved from New Orleans back to Charlotte when the NBA created the then-Bobcats in 2004.
Kroeger said during his Monday program that he doesn't intend to try to mimic Martin's very conversational style when he takes over game calls next season. WFNZ is the flagship station on the Hornets' radio network.
Radio play-by-play with the Hornets is a challenging role, in that the team has had a color analyst only at home games in recent seasons. Ex-player Matt Carroll, who also serves as a community ambassador for the team, worked with Martin during games at Spectrum Center.
Kroeger grew up in the Charlotte area, and frequently has described himself on-air as a passionate NBA fan. He was overtaken with emotion at the start of his show Monday,fighting back tears as he announced his new role with the Hornets.