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you don’t change the devil. the devil changes you.

The older I get, the more challenging announcing basketball games is becoming. I’m not having a woe-is-me moment. I’m really and honestly noticing more and more vocal difficulties. I’m not a young lad anymore who can wistfully go about his day eating and drinking what I want and then sit behind a mic on Press Row and give a flawless performance. Oh wait. I never give a flawless performance! But you get my drift.

Right from the start of the men’s game tonight at Conseco Fieldhouse—the nightcap of a doubleheader—I noticed my voice giving out. In fact, I struggled to soldier through the starting lineups. I wasn’t losing my voice, but I was losing range and “strength.” Conseco’s audio setup doesn’t allow the announcer to move the dials. It’s set and you deal with it. If it’s coming through quiet, talk louder. If it’s still quite, yell. And that’s what it became. All that whooping and hollering takes a toll; sometimes during the game (as it did tonight). If PA announcing is driving, imagine tonight was driving in a bit of a storm. You can get from Point A to Point B, but you have to make certain concessions you normally wouldn’t under optimal conditions.

Ultimately the blame falls on the person, not the mic. You don’t change the devil. The devil changes you. A sketchy microphone will always be a sketchy microphone because it doesn’t know any better and can’t adjust. You adjust to the mic or suffer the consequences. I just didn’t adjust quickly enough this evening. I think I performed better than my on-court nonsense Thursday night, but I’m also glad this wasn’t an audition.

But you can’t hang it on lack of preparation. I was prepared. And, true to form, all that preparation paid off when it came time to flip the script and make changes on the fly as there’s a basketball game being played 10 feet away. An IUPUI Jaguars game at Conseco Fieldhouse is always a special occasion for us, so we like to involve our fans, alumni and supporters as much as we can. Tonight was no exception as we honored IUPUI faculty furing four of our eight scheduled timeouts as well as a cheerleader alumni gathering during halftime. The gameday crew got its cardio for the day, running back and forth between gathering people and bringing me the final script and then adding announcements and halftime activities…all moments before going live. Amazing there’s such a constant buzz of activity on and around Press Row while there’s a college basketball game being played 10 feet away from us in an NBA arena.

I can roll with those punches all day long because I work with top-notch folks who handle it all with ease. That’s the easy part of it all. I have to take better care of the pipe on game days to ensure my best performance. All the coordination and preparation won’t cover a hoarse throat. Time to consult some singers to see what they do.

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Filed under IUPUI Jaguars, PA Announcing, sports

the burdens of being upright.

I’m prepping for tomorrow’s IUPUI Jaguars basketball doubleheader at Conseco Fieldhouse, where I’ll be the PA announcer. That means reviewing scripts, timeouts, music, pronunciations, rosters and coaches. Prep for Conseco is no different than prep for The Jungle. The clocks and timeouts all happen at the same time. I confess I get giddy about working there, hoping Quinn Buckner or Larry Bird or Jim Morris—any of the Pacers brass—hears me and plucks me from obscurity to announcer Pacer games. I digress.

I performed in my other capacity with the Jaguars at our previous game at Conseco this week: on-court halftime emcee. I’ve only actually performed as halfcourt emcee once earlier this season. I’m comfortable being on press row seated behind a microphone. Being upright and working the crowd with a wireless handheld? Well, it’s less about comfort and more about fighting through the challenge. It’s been at least a month since being an emcee so last night was a bit of a re-baptism by fire. Especially since I didn’t know I’d be needed on the court until about 10 minutes before halftime. I’d rate my performance Thursday night a C-/D+.

I don’t get nervous being in front of people. Performing isn’t intimidating for me. Remember, I was a casino dice dealer for awhile. I can handle being on display and working a crowd. My anxiety as an emcee stems from my struggle to find the rhythm. I’ll admit working without a script makes me nervous, though. As a PA announcer, I’m tethered to a script out of necessity (hence my OCD-like preparation). It’s a necessary evil. Everything’s timed and coordinated and it’s my job to make sure nobody screws up (including me). Being an emcee is almost exactly the opposite. Less of a coach, your’e now a QB working off a game plan and have to be flexible enough to know when you have to call an audible. It’s a skill as much as it is an art, both of which I intend to master.

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Filed under IUPUI Jaguars, PA Announcing, sports