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College Sports Announcer

College Sports Announcer
Name:CurtisJ
Location:Baltimore, MD
Gender:M
Age:29
I was the public address announcer at Washington University in St. Louis from 1999 until 2003, primarily for basketball and soccer games. While not quite Michael Buffer, I was left to my own devices to give player introductions, hit in-game highlights, coordinate halftime music, read promotional materials, and everything in between.
Last Answer: 1/30/12 Subscribe to this Q&A | Sort by:
Q
How much do PA announcers for sports teams make?
A

In short, not a ton. Since I was a student, I made half the pro hourly rate, which was $12.50/hr, so estimate $25/hr or less at D-III. I was on work study, so $12.50 an hour was killing it, especially for something this fun. I think minor league and local college guys get between $25 and $50 an hour depending on the profile of the gig. The pro guys that are known can make six figures (I'm positive Bob Sheppard made over $100K), but since this is a dream job for some and a side job to begin with the teams have all the bargaining power.

Q
Did you ever have to pee in the middle of a game? Did you have to just deal with it nascar style?
A

I could usually run out while a song was playing at halftime if needed, or quickly in between games when teams were warming up. Or astronaut diaper style.

Q
Did they make you take broadcasting classes in order to be the public address guy?
A

Nope, but I worked in the Sports Information Department and had a trial period before I was hired full time.

Q
How did you go about announcing players with difficult to pronounce names?
A

For our teams, I'd ask the new players at the start of the season and just memorize it. There are a bunch of other items to learn each game, so if you can knock out the consistent stuff it makes it easier. For the visitors, you'd typically get the roster or media guide a bit before the game. On the "Joe Smith" types, no further effort required. Otherwise, before tip/kickoff I'd hit up the SID (sports information director) from the visiting school and ask how to pronounce each name. If possible, I'd also reach out to the player his or herself during warm-ups, because sometimes you get conflicting reports and it is better hearing it from the player. Then I'd write out the difficult names phonetically on my crib sheet, which was the one page roster for that game plus tracking boxes I drew ...More

Q
Was it weird hearing your voice booming from stadium loudspeakers?
A

Absolutely, but you got used to it quickly. Also, this was college, so it took a bit of willpower not to use your powers in completely inappropriate ways, e.g. an oblique reference to girls or buddies in the crowd. You need to get comfortable with the mic and the system in general before you dive in, because if you think you sound weird you'll be thinking about that and miss something you are supposed to say. Once it goes live the announcing action happens faster than you'd anticipate just watching a game, so those kinks need to be sorted out in advance.

Q
Who do you think are the best and worst announcers and play by play guys working today?
A

In terms of PA announcers, the best were distinctive voices that did the job straight but with a personal touch - for New Yorkers I'm sure that was Bob Sheppard, who I had the pleasure of hearing in person in old Yankee Stadium before he passed. For me, it was Rex Barney, who was the Baltimore Orioles PA guy during my childhood and my announcing role model. I did a drawn-out "Thankyoooouuuu" at basketball games in honor of him, and he also had this great ploy where if a fan caught a foul ball clean he'd say "Give that fan a contract" and the usher would come down with a novelty one day contract to hand over.

In terms of play-by-play guys, I'm drawn to the types that focus on adding value or information that is actually useful, not platitudes or personal history. Nationally, I think Charley
...More

Q
Were you ever encouraged by coaches or administrators to really talk up certain players, perhaps because pro scouts were in attendance?
A

On the PA system there wasn't a tremendous opportunity for that, thought the sports information department would prepare information packets and the like upon request to help promote players for the next level (at D-III it is largely overseas).

College Sports Announcer [...continued]