Why you should care
Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.
In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”
Charlotte, North Carolina
Today, I’m getting over a cold, but people tell me that I have a strong voice. It is in the baritone range, which is good for this kind of job. I just started announcing for the Davidson College Wildcats soccer and volleyball teams a month ago. What I do is public addressing. That’s the voice that essentially is stadium media.
I find soccer in North Carolina relaxing compared with football in Texas, which is what I used to do. With football, the action happens so fast, there’s not enough time to announce stats. You have to be ready for every play. It wasn’t quite like Friday Night Lights; it was just private school 4A, not even the highest level, but we drew loud, enthusiastic crowds. I’d put a lot of roar into my voice. But you don’t want to be bigger than the game.
The biggest thing of all is to get the player pronunciations right. I have a pretty butcherable last name. No one likes to have their last name misspoken. That’s like the first law of being a public address announcer.
Soccer or football, I always arrive at least an hour before [the game], to fill the blanks in. Find out who the referees are. Know who the ball boys and girls are. Everything is pretty smooth after that. When I’m in that press box and everything is under control, I feel like I’m a pilot, flying a commercial jetliner at cruising altitude.
I had the best seat in the house. If any of my kids acted up in class, I could threaten them and say, ‘Oh, I’ll embarrass you on the field.’
In Texas, I’d go out with the coaching staff before kickoff. We had this tradition of eating greasy fried food at 4 o’clock. It wasn’t good for my diet. The sense of community was something very helpful to me at that time. My first wife had passed away from cancer, and I needed to sell the house and get away, so I made the move from Charleston, South Carolina, to Austin, Texas. I took a job teaching history and geography at a private high school. I had done radio commercials before. I always loved the voices of those guys when I played baseball — longer ago than I’m willing to admit. So I thought, “Why not be the public address guy?”
I do aspire to the big leagues and am always looking for audition opportunities. I subscribe to a blog called “The Best and Worst of PA Announcing,” by Kevin Kelleher. He always posts audition opportunities when they come around — I only wish they happened more often. But PA announcers love their jobs so much, they never leave! The man considered to be the dean of all PA announcers is the late Bob Sheppard. He covered over 4,500 New York Yankees games in 56 years.
Announcing was kind of therapy for me for the year after my wife died. We never had kids. I went to grief counseling; I cried the hard tears. I needed something to do. It was too hard to just go home every night. I grew to love it. The pay is per game; it helps buy groceries. Five years later, I’m still doing it.
— As told to Nick Fouriezos