Category Archives: PA Announcing

oh yeah…

…did I mention my resume includes this? Public Address Announcer at the 2013 NCAA Midwest Regionals in Indianapolis.

Easily the high point of my 20 years or so working a microphone.

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Filed under NCAA, PA Announcing, sports

you never know who’s listening.

To help out a friend, I did a little PA work this week for the 2013 Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series in Hammond, Indiana. While I consider baseball to be my favorite sport to watch, I confess to being a mostly average (at best) baseball PA announcer. The problem isn’t a lack of understanding of the game as much as it is a familiarity with the behind-the-scenes process.

Having done basketball for the better part of the past 20 years, I can hop on the mic at any gym or arena anytime and sound like a pro. Why? Because I know what to expect, when to expect it. Believe it or not, I was more nervous working these baseball games in Hammond—where no player is older than 12 years old—than I was working in front of 35,000 screaming fans at the NCAA Regional in March.

Play Ball!
I worked two games on Friday, plus the opening ceremonies later that evening. Getting through that first game is always a bit nerve-wracking because, no matter how much I prepare, I never feel prepared enough. In this case, I wasn’t even really prepared until I got to the park. I reviewed the starting lineups and the order of announcements that needed to be read. Once I got started with the opening greeting, I felt fine. My problem is—and I really need to work on this—I never feel totally comfortable ad-libbing if I’ve never done it before. It’s my own hang-up that I requires continuous improvement on my part. I felt pretty rusty on Friday afternoon.

I had a couple errors that bothered me (missed a player introduction when he came up to bat, defensive switches) that I need to avoid next time. I pride myself on being professional and those errors are anything but professional.

The games themselves were fun to watch. The kids played hard and never quit. Their families and supporters were loud and spirited and cheered loudly. Best of all, the sportsmanship on display was great. All those overzealous stage parents could learn from them.

Opening Ceremonies
The opening ceremonies went off much better. Originally, I wasn’t going to do it, but I was asked if I’d stick around and help with it. About an hour prior to starting, I sat down with Tim Bell, president of Hammond Optimist Youth Sports (the host group for the World Series) and Paul Mullaney, the group’s past president and regular PA announcer for many of its games and events, to go over the script. This helped tremendously. It also helped to have Paul right next to me, cuing me up and keeping me in line.

The event itself, I should mention, was well attended. Ten teams from around the country are playing in this tournament. Teams from as far away as Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and North Dakota are joining to local teams from Crown Point and Hammond. From what I saw, they all brought vocal contingents of fans. It only made the atmosphere that much better.

Speaking of Atmosphere…
It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a crowded press box. When I work soccer for IUPUI, the press box is usually occupied by only a handful of people. It helps that getting to the press box at Carroll Stadium is similar to climbing the stairs to Mecca, so it keeps the riff-raff out. Kidding (mostly). The press box at the World Series is teeming with activity, all the time. It is the nerve center of the complex, nestled at the apex of three baseball diamonds. For the World Series, only two are being used, but they’re being used concurrently. That makes for lots of people, lots of noise and lots of distractions. It’s a long way from that soccer press box or even press row for basketball games. I can handle a noisy audience at a basketball game easier than a conversation between two people happening right over my shoulder. Figure that out.

PAWhat’s Next?
Originally, I was only committed to working that one day. I had a few pending situations that prevented me from committing beyond that. But I had so much fun working Friday afternoon that I agreed to come back and work two more games on Monday night. They needed someone and I’m happy to volunteer. It’s worth noting I do have an ulterior motive to coming back: I want to prove to myself that I can do better than what I did on Friday. Personally speaking, I’m not happy with my performance and I want to go back and do it again because I’m certain I can do better. Why? Because you never know who’s listening.

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Filed under baseball, PA Announcing

begonia?

When it comes to public address announcing, softball has always been something of a discomfort zone for me. I’ve done it so infrequently that it barely counts. A couple months ago, I was asked by the IUPUI Jaguars program if I’d help out and announce some games. Naturally, I obliged. Of course, no one expected the colossal trainwreck that followed.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but compared to basketball, soccer and volleyball, my performance as a softball PA announcer leaves nothing but room for improvement. Take yesterday’s doubleheader at the IUPUI Softball Complex. When announcing the starting lineups for the teams, I had trouble recognizing one of the names as it was written on the lineup card. The batter in question was eighth in the lineup. I correctly identified her position and number, but her name? A pregnant pause gave way to a second of awkward silence, which allowed just enough panic to set in that I winged it on the illegible name: “Audria…Begonia,” I said, to a smattering of laughs from both the team’s players and the fans scattered in the bleachers behind me.

I glanced at IUPUI’s Sports Information Director John Berry, who could barely contain his laughter, corrected me between giggled. “Basquez!” he said.

Yep. I turned Basquez into Begonia. It gave J.B something to laugh about for a solid five innings.

After the name faux pas, everything else settled down. The Jags won the nightcap 3-1, after dropping the first game 5-4. Truth is, I don’t mind working softball, but it’s not as comfortable as working for our other sports. I don’t think I’m telling any stories out of class by saying the Softball Complex leaves much to be desired. There is no press box, forcing the stat crew, visiting SID and gameday crew to occupy a couple rickety tables behind the backstop. There is no overhead cover, exposing us and, more importantly, our gear, to the elements. When it’s cold and threatening to rain in early spring, it’s especially cold for us. When it’s an otherwise warm, perfect day (as it was yesterday), we bake in the sun. I went through about five bottles of water just to stay hydrated.

We end up spending most of our time standing behind home plate, going through our motions. It’s not as intense a pace as basketball or volleyball, nor is it as slow as soccer. From an announcer’s standpoint, there’s not much to announce other than batters, pinch runners, new pitchers, etc. Even though I’m a baseball fan, my relative lack of familiarity with working softball lends itself to dumb errors. Should I pick up the slack and announce at softball next season, I’ll need to tighten up.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to win the Powerball jackpot so I can build a press box for next season.

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Filed under IUPUI Jaguars, PA Announcing, sports

my very own sweet sixteen party.

In Focus...Rick Pitino's top-seeded Louisville Cardinals will play the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks Thursday night in Indianapolis.

In Focus…Rick Pitino’s top-seeded Louisville Cardinals will play the No. 12 seed Oregon Ducks Thursday night in Indianapolis.

We started with 68 on Tuesday, and now we’re down to the Sweet Sixteen™. Now that the field is set, I have the itinerary of games for next weekend’s Midwest Regional games for which I’ll be the PA announcer at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Game 1
(1) Louisville Cardinals vs.
(12) Oregon Ducks
Friday, 29 March 2013 | Tip-off: 7:15 p.m. EDT
Television: CBS

Game 2
(3) Michigan State Spartans vs.
(2) Duke Blue Devils
Friday, 29 March 2013 | Tip-off: 9:45 p.m. EDT
Television: CBS

Game 3
Louisville/Oregon vs.
Michigan State/Duke
Sunday, 31 March 2013 | Tip-off: TBD
Television: TBD

Am I nervous? Not yet. I’m excited. This regional features college basketball royalty: Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo. I’m most looking forward to the Duke-Michigan State game. That will be like a championship game all by itself. The game will also feature a kid from my hometown of Bay City, Michigan, freshman Matt Costello. Not sure if he’ll get in the game or not, but it’s kinda cool.

I expect these games to be well attended. Louisville fans will make the short trip from Kentucky, no doubt. Sparty fans and Duke fans travel well, too. I have no idea how many Oregon fans will make the trip, but their Ducks should give Louisville a run for their money.

Prior to this weekend, the largest event I’ve ever worked was in front of 4,000 – 5,000 people over at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Lucas Oil Stadium will be set up to hold 45,000 for these games. That is a HUGE crowd!

But I’m not nervous…yet. 🙂

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Filed under college basketball, march madness, NCAA, PA Announcing, sports

march madness is here!

Things to do today:
* Watch college basketball
* Watch college basketball at the NCAA headquarters
* Watch college basketball at home
* Fall asleep watching college basketball (at home…not at the NCAA headquarters. That would be bad)

It’s no secret the first two rounds of the NCAA National Championship Tournament (well, second and third rounds, technically) are my favorites. Why? Because it’s NONSTOP BASKETBALL! And it’s within this first weekend of basketball that upsets are most likely to occur. I’ve got a few upsets picked along the way, but not as many as I need, I imagine. I think the biggest upset I’ve got on my bracket is Minnesota beating UCLA. But is it really an upset when one of UCLA’s best players is out with injury?

The Bracket
As I mentioned, the bracket is already complete. No, I do not wager any money or partake in any pools. It’s purely for fun. I’ve been filling out a bracket every year for the past 23 or 24 years. My best year was 2001. I picked three of the Final Four teams, the championship game and the National Champion. That’s all I remember. I don’t even remember who won…oh wait, it was Duke (yes, I cheated and looked it up).

Write Right
Before I go to the NCAA, I’ve got a couple other things to knock out at home. I’d like to wrap up a couple writing projects as well as retool my resume. The resume may have to wait another day.

Brrrrr!
The word on the street is we were up around 80-degree weather this time last year. We’ll be lucky if we break 32° today.

Warming Up the Pipe
I’ll be gearing up for the NCAA National Championship Tournament Midwest Regional Semifinals, which will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium here in Indianapolis. Oh yeah, did I mention I’ll be the PA announcer at those games? While I have no rooting interest in the teams in the Midwest Region, I’m really hoping to see the top seeds advance. It might be the most competitive of the four regions. Either way, it’s going to be fun next weekend.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Thursday, kids!

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Filed under college basketball, NCAA, PA Announcing, sports

a kind of homecoming in the jungle.

JungleYou can’t always get what you want. Isn’t that how the song goes? That’s become the theme for the long-suffering IUPUI Jaguars men’s basketball team this season. Yesterday’s game against Omaha was one of the worst I’ve seen at home in a long time. Up by 22 points with about four minutes to play in the first half, only to lose by seven, 85-78. That’s a 29-point swing. What’s even more maddening: the Mavericks staged their comeback in about 15 minutes of game time. By the midpoint of the second half, it was up for grabs. With about eight minutes left on the clock, Omaha had the lead for good.

Maddening. Frustrating. Bewildering.

The last time we suffered such a bad loss in a game I felt we should’ve won was two years ago against Southern Utah University. I wrote about it here. The same recipe for disaster as two years ago occurred last night: large, early lead only gets squandered.

Maddening. Frustrating. Bewildering.

About Yesterday’s Game.
It was one of the more enjoyable days in The Jungle, I must say. Thanks to Homecoming festivities, we had an actual student section at the game yesterday. That always makes it more fun. Omaha’s SID, Bonnie, was very nice. But that’s to be expected. In all my years of working with opposing teams—about 15, total, between IU South Bend Titans and the Jags—I’ve only encountered one or two challenging people. The SIDs throughout our conference are always pretty good people.

Omaha’s head coach Derrin Hansen gave the table crew a laugh, too. Early in the second half, after a called timeout, Hansen forgot we’d already taken the under-16:00 media timeout. He kept asking Mike, the clock operator and Joe, official scorekeeper, why we haven’t taken the media timeout yet. We finally clarified with him what time it was taken. About a minute or two later, he leaned over and said, “you’ve got to forgive me, we’re a little slower in Omaha.”

IMG_1964My Day Behind the Mic.
We had one of our best crowds of the season yesterday. It’s always more fun to work in a full house. I had a good voice for most of the first half, although the timeout reads are starting to wear me out. And the eight-minute halftime Homecoming read was a rather tall order. The challenge there is to get through it without sounding like your droning on and on. Though it sounds counterintuitive, the more you try to punch up the announcements, the worse they sound.

A friend of mine who’s had a career in broadcasting and PA announcing gave me a good note yesterday, after the game: slow down. He’s right. He’s dead right. There’s a tendency to want to rush through the reads—especially during the media timeouts—but it’s the best way to screw up.

Heading toward the NCAA regionals next month, I need to focus on slowing down my reads. The in-game stuff doesn’t concern me as much. I feel pretty good about my ability to manage the scorers, fouls and substitutions. I just need to focus on getting a little better with scripted copy.

No, I’m never satisfied with my performance. Ever.

But I did get a rather nice compliment from one of the player’s dads. After introducing the JagBand (where I always include a different title or nickname for the band director, David Copeland), Sean Esposito’s dad introduced himself to me so he could tell me he always gets a laugh out of those intros and looks forward to it every game. It’s always nice to hear folks appreciate when you’re trying to keep it fun. Although it’s getting tougher and tougher to come up with new nicknames for Dave. Yesterday, he was the “pet psychic to the stars.” Because of the long halftime reads, I was unable to get to the second read.

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Filed under college basketball, IUPUI Jaguars, PA Announcing, the summit league, Uncategorized

“operator error.” my night in the jungle.

Self-induced errors? Yeah, that's about how it feels.

Self-induced errors? Yeah, that’s about how it feels.

It’s funny how things change over time in The Summit League. In years past, my IUPUI Jaguars were an annual favorite to make it to the conference championship game while conference foe Western Illinois was often fodder for the stronger teams.

How things have changed. The Leathernecks came into our game last night in The Jungle tied for first while my Jags are staring up at the rest of the conference. It’s not fun.

That being said, though, the team played one of their better games in recent weeks. They shot better and were able to establish some low post scoring and a decent perimeter game. But Western Illinois had too many inside weapons, winning 68-59. It stinks losing; especially when you look at the stats.

* Four Jags scored in double figures, only two for Western did that.
* The Jags shot 48 percent for the game. Western? 46 percent.
* The Jags were 20-12 in assists-turnovers. Western? 13-11.

So how did the Jags lose? Rebounding and free throws. And for me, the tell-tale stat of any basketball game is rebounding. The team that rebounds the ball usually wins the game. The Leathernecks outrebounded IUPUI 33-25. That rebounding advantage translates into a couple telling numbers:
* Outscoring IUPUI 28-18 in the paint
* Outscoring IUPUI 10-3 in second chance points

If that weren’t enough:
* Western was 15-19 from the line, to IUPUI’s 3-5.
* Western’s bench outscored ours, 22-9.
* They also scored 15 points off turnovers.

Better rebounding doesn’t erase all of the carnage, but it does give you a better chance.

Just a disappointing game.

On top of that, I had a bit of a stressful moment immediately following the opening tip. I got through all the opening announcements with relative aplomb. But when I tried to announce the first basket, my mic went dead. I tried again; still dead. In a bit of a panic, I went to SID Ed Holdaway. “My sound just crashed,” I told him. Ed was in no position to do anything, being tied to the stat crew for the game.

I went back and started checking wires for loose connections. It was that moment when I spotted the error: the all-famous ID-10-T error.

The problem? I turned off my own mic. In my defense, though, it was the fault of the set-up. I’m used to having my mic on Channel 1. The set-up crew had my mic on Channel 2. When I turned down what I thought was the wireless mic, I was actually killing my own sound.

The worse part? It took me nearly two minutes to properly diagnose the problem.

It is sometimes amazing I am able to even dress myself in the mornings.

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Filed under college basketball, IUPUI Jaguars, NCAA, PA Announcing