Chuck Swirsky leaving Toronto does come as a shock.
Here's hoping the next Raptors play-by-play voice is a true basketball guy who learned the craft of commentating in Canada.
The team is in its second decade, the fan culture is mature. The time has come, the same way it had when Dan Shulman called the Blue Jays before he went to ESPN.
There's a long-standing, self-fulfilling prophesy in the Canadian media to maintain that we can't perform certain roles. They (quote, unquote) say there's no one out there and affirm it by never giving anyone a chance. It's manifested itself into a belief that no one could ever develop the craft to commentate any sport other than hockey or the CFL while living in Canada.
It's total bullflop. The executives would rather recycle an on-air personality and have him learn on the job than take on someone who steeped in the game, although he might not be a known quantity to the sponsors and the highers-up.
In a better world, this would create an opportunity for someone such as Tim Micallef from The Score. He's done basketball play-by-play, he comes across as a true hoopophile and he's slugged it out for years. He's even cut back on the masssssives, so here's a missive hoping he gets a chance, if there's an opening for a Raptors play-by-play voice.
(One logical guess is that Paul Jones and/or Eric Smith might get switched to the TV side.)
The Jays did improve their broadcasts by bringing in American who's a known quantity when Alan Ashby was hired to pair up with Jerry Howarth on the radio. The hierachy should go (a) look for a deserving Canadian who's a true basketball guy; (b) try to bring in a 'name' NBA broadcaster from the States; (c) opt for the trite and true, so to speak.
The T Dog Media Blog, which covers Chicago sports media, might be a go-to site over the next couple days.
Voice of the Raptors leaving for Chicago (globesports.com)
Bulls shake up broadcast teams (ChicagoSports.com)
Raptors announcer Swirsky leaving for Bulls (Toronto Star)