Veteran play-by-play broadcaster Jeff Radcliffe will not return as the voice of Orlando City in 2019. Radcliffe, who has called Lions games since the inaugural USL season in 2011, made the announcement today via social media. He has called more than 200 games for the club on television, radio, and online streaming, but OCSC is going in a new direction for the 2019 season.
“This was a dream job for me and I’m just so grateful to Orlando City and the fans for putting up with me for eight years.” said Radcliffe, who has also called Orlando Pride and Orlando City B matches for the club. “I had a feeling [about not returning]. There were some awkward things with (Senior Director of Marketing) Marcos (Peres) that didn’t happen before. At the time you don’t put it together and then you say ‘ah, now I get it.’
“Marcos was incredibly apologetic. He said ‘this is a really sad day for the club and for me but there are some people in the front office that just want to go in a different direction. There’s nothing I can do. It’s nothing you did.’”
An Orlando City spokesperson released the following club statement upon request regarding Radcliffe’s departure:
“Jeff has been a great member of our broadcast group and we thank him for his support. His contract did come to an end this year, and the club decided to have a different voice for the 2019 season. A new cast will be announced at a later date.”
Radcliffe has been the voice of the Lions on YouTube, WRVQ TV 27, WRBW My65, Fox Sports Florida, and Sun Sports, as well as on the radio for the club’s broadcast partner Real Radio 104.1 and iHeart Media. He’s also served as the co-host of the club’s weekly coach’s show on Real Radio 104.1. He began working with OCSC on a freelance basis for four seasons (2011-2014) while the club was in the USL.
Radcliffe said he believes the main reason he won’t be back in 2019 is financial.
“It certainly appears budget is a big part of the reason I’m not back,” he said. “When they got rid of a club legend (Lewis Neal) as one of our analysts, our Emmy-winning producer, moved Tom Traxler to radio full time, and made me take a 20% pay cut prior to 2018. Heck they even pushed Tom and Dan, arguably the two most popular guys in central Florida out the door…didn’t want to pay them. That blew my mind. I knew my days were probably numbered. I’m under contract through the end of the year, yet the club tried to stop paying me at the end of October….again another sign.”
Previously, Radcliffe has done play-by-play for various pro, college, and high school sports for Bright House Sports Network and has served as sports anchor for television stations in Omaha, NE; Sioux Falls, SD; Clarksburg, WV; and several cities in Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with minors in music and psychology.
The longtime voice of the Lions has seen every major milestone in club history, but there are a few that stand out above the rest for him.
“The three that stand out are the championship game in 2013 was the first, where I actually called the game,” he recalled. “There were three where I actually teared up. There was that one and the first MLS game when I saw Phil (Rawlins) and Inchy walk out together. I got teary thinking, ‘this is it, we made it.’ And then when the stadium opened. I could barely talk I was so choked up with it. There’s obviously big games. I remember the LA Galaxy game in the first year, the Portland game the second year, and of course the game after the Pulse tragedy, which is something I’ll never forget.”
Even though he won’t be back with the Lions in 2019, Radcliffe’s voice can still be heard for now on some Orlando soccer broadcasts. This off-season, Radcliffe has been calling Orlando SeaWolves games for the team’s streaming broadcasts on the Major Arena Soccer League website and YouTube. Radcliffe’s longtime broadcast partner Tom Traxler is the head coach of the SeaWolves.
“The league (MASL) is going places, which is great,” he said. “They just signed a national TV contract with Eleven Sports. Hopefully I’ll be involved a little bit with that. That’s just one thing I’ll be doing. I’ll have Florida Cup. I’ve already had a couple (MLS) clubs reach out just to see what’s going on. I’m not sure if that will lead to anything. Then also I’ll be doing some international stuff and some USL stuff.
“I’ll have work. That’s not my concern. I think one of the tough things too is having to break the news to my kids. My kids are in the youth club. And, you know it’s kind of cool having dad doing what he does and now not representing the club anymore. Trying to explain it to them and ‘what did you do?’ It’s nothing I did. This is how the business is. If you’ve been in TV and you haven’t lost a job, you haven’t been in the business long enough.”
Although he won’t be on Orlando City’s broadcast team anymore, there is still a chance he’ll be calling the Lions again.
“MLS has a lot of platforms around the world and they do need English-speaking broadcasters,” Radcliffe said.
Here’s Radcliffe’s full statement: