HOUSTON -- Ever since Jim Crane and his new ownership group took over last November, the Astros have been looking for ways to expand the team's interaction with fans.
Team president and CEO George Postolos feels that the club's new "You Make The Call" contest, a chance for fans and aspiring broadcasters to become a radio field reporter for the Astros' 2013 radio broadcast team, will help the team engage with its fanbase in a unique way.
"We are looking for great young talent in our farm system on the baseball field, and we're also looking for great talent in the farm system for broadcasters," Postolos said in a press conference on Friday.
Fans can register for the contest at Astros.com until 5 p.m. on August 7. After four rounds of competition, judged by experienced media members and fans, a winner be announced on Sept. 26, the last Astros home game.
That person will become a part of the Astros broadcast team and be responsible for conducting interviews, covering press conferences and interacting with fans during the team's home games next season. The newly-created position, which the team is calling a "radio apprentice", will not include calling games.
The team considers the position a full-time job. The winner will be paid $4,166.67 a month for their work with the radio broadcast at all home games.
"It's a really unique opportunity for fans to have that possibility to live their lifelong dream through this contest," marketing manager Andrea Andrus said. "We're really happy to offer them that opportunity."
Jared Sarabia, 22, doesn't have much experience with broadcast journalism, but will register for the contest. He said he played baseball in high school and did interviews with some of the journalism students, allowing him to understand what might go into a good question.
The opportunity to interview Astros players and officials is definitely appealing to Sarabia, who will graduate from the University of Houston sometime in 2013 with a degree in mathematics.
"I have a high baseball knowledge," Sarabia said. "There's a ton of questions I've always wanted to ask them."
The team hoped to unveil the contest earlier in the season. Many of the technical details are yet to be determined. Marketing manager Christie Miller said the contest is open to anybody.
"Really, all we're looking for is somebody that is a good communicator, has a great personality, is energetic, loves our Astros and is really able to connect with our fans," Miller said.
Everyone who registers on Astros.com before August 7 will take part in an initial interview process with judges on August 13 at Minute Maid Park. Judges include former Astros player, manager and broadcaster Larry Dierker; Fox Sports Houston broadcaster Patti Smith; Emmy-Award winning broadcaster Linda Lorelle; Houston Chronicle columnist Ken Hoffman; Clear Channel president Eddie Martiny; Astros vice president of marketing and strategy Kathleen Clark; and Astros senior vice president Jamie Hildreth.
After the initial interviews, the judges will select 10 contestants to advance to the second round. During the Aug. 17-19 home series against the Diamondbacks, the 10 remaining contestants will interview Astros players during batting practice. Fans and judges can listen to the interview recordings on Astros.com and vote on four contestants to reach the semifinals.
The four remaining contestants will make an appearance on-air during an Astros game from Aug. 30-Sept. 2. After fans and judges select two finalists, the contestants will take part in the broadcasts on Sept. 13 and 14, performing a variety of roles.
Fans and judges will vote between the two finalists from Sept. 16-24, and the winner will be announced during the Astros game against the Cardinals on Sept. 26.
"We're really confident that we'll find an outstanding fit, and it won't be amateur hour," Miller said.
"There's such an incredible passionate following for these talent contests," Postolos said. "We have tremendous interest in all of our media positions. It just seemed like a natural idea."
Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.