“The Public Address Announcer” — Is there anybody on gameday more important but as often overlooked?
A bad one can hinder your gameday experience, a good one can get you through it, and a great one can elevate it.
I’ve worked with numerous PA announcers over the course of my career. Some of them have been incredible, some of them have been adequate, and some of them have been, let’s just say... not very good.
While they are just one of the many contract employees that are necessary to ensure that our gamedays go smoothly, one could argue their value far exceeds the others. In my opinion, they are one of the most important components of the event presentation, and here are five semi-serious reasons why…
- This is an obvious one, but they’re the voice your fans will hear all game. They’re in the unique position to energize the crowd, provide information that fans care about, help you sell tickets (Do those reads work?), direct the crowd’s attention to a specific part of the arena, or even lead a lightning evacuation. Have you ever been to a major sporting event that didn’t have a PA? Probably not... but if you have, it had to be awkward, right?
- You know that feeling when you and someone you only sort-of know are in a room together and you feel like you need to find something to talk about at all times so that there’s no silence? But when you’re in that same situation with a close friend, you’re perfectly fine with silence and probably actually prefer it? That’s sort of what sitting next to the PA is like. I love small talk as much as the rest of us (meaning I don’t), but sometimes you just want to actually hear what the people on headset are saying to you. A great PA is like that close friend; you love talking to them, but you also love not talking to them, and they understand that. At the very least, you have to sit next to them every game, so it’s nice to enjoy their company.
- Sometimes we’re not perfect. Sometimes we make spelling or grammar errors in our scripts, but a great PA catches them before they blurt them out (I’m Ron Burgundy?). Sometimes we forget to provide them with their cue, but a great PA can operate on their own; they don’t require hand-holding. They understand the sport, pay attention at all times, and take pride in their execution. Great PAs are an Event Presentation Director’s personification of a stress ball. Is there anything more unsettling when calling a game than an inexperienced/below average PA sitting next to you? With so much to worry about already, the last thing you want to have to stress about is whether or not the he or she knows when to say something, what exactly to say, and how to say it.
- Consistency, consistency, consistency. It’s the name of the game. Well, basketball is the name of the game, but you know what I mean. A great PA is a consistent PA, one that is reliable and maintains a high standard. At Maryland this past football season, we had a different PA Announcer for one game; it was the first time in eight years. The biggest takeaway? Fans noticed. It showed up with frequency in our postgame survey results, and I even had a friend who was watching the game on TV ask me, “Where’s Matt Noble today?” Long story, short: An inconsistent PA can be an unwanted distraction (especially when they’re butchering pronunciations left and right).
- They are a part of the family! In my experience, most PAs are motivated by the love of the game, the camaraderie, and the desire to be a part of the program. They’re not doing it for the paycheck. Let’s be honest... if they were they wouldn’t be making a very good living. Instead, they do it to be a part of something special. Heck, that’s exactly why most of us do it. And for that we should all be grateful for that.
So here’s to you, PA Announcer! Thank you for making me good at my job!
Signed, with reverence,
All Sports Marketing Professionals