BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Like many NFL fans, Mark Grote was used to a leisurely pace on Sunday monrings.
“I loved sleeping in, getting up around 11:00, maybe watch some of the pregame (TV) shows and sit on my butt all day watching football,” Grote explained. “Now at 7 a.m. the alarm goes off and I have to get to Soldier Field.”
That’s because Grote is in his second year covering the Bears for Chicago’s WSCR. He is also part of the Bears radio broadcasts as the pregame and postgame host and sideline reporter.
He’s the guy that gets to games early and stays late, sometimes filing reports hours after the fans have left.
And he started in Peoria at WMBD radio after graduating from Illinois State in 1995.
“I got to cover high school sports in Peoria doing a pregame and postgame show for high school sports,” Grote said. “It was a fantastic start to my career. I lived in Peoria two years (1995-97).”
Grote also worked in Lincoln and Springfield in what he considers his “central Illinois radio tour.” Then he was hired to work at WSCR.
He graduated from covering high school football and basketball to pro sports in Chicago. And his timing has been excellent.
He joined the Cubs radio team as they were turning into a playoff team.
“I started with the Cubs in 2015, that was their unexpected year. Then they did it in 2016, running away from the division and winning the World Series,” Grote said. “I came on the Bears beat last year, they did unexpected things (winning the division). So there’s a lot of pressure to bring a Super Bowl title this year with the Bear.”
Grote received a World Series ring for his work on radio in 2016. He says he has room for more rings.
“It’s kind of embarrassing. I only have one ring to wear around,” Grote joked. “At some point, I’m going to need another ring.”