For Love Or Money

By Matthew C Wallace

Money – The Debate

Money is a debate.  Money is always a debate.  We all want more.  We don’t always get more.  Money will forever remain a debate.

However, money makes for a fun subject to tackle.  The goal here is to sculpt a palatable value proposition which asserts the high-value of public addressing announcing.  The suggestion is that leveraging it to an organization’s benefit and properly compensating the announcer for good work are wise directions for increased success.

Prefacing this entire prolix dissertation, we see a lot of public address announcer job openings at  Some pay offers are ostensibly commensurate while others are, frankly, embarrassing.  This particular post aims to address a big picture rather than any one company, college, school or organization.  We value encouragement over complaint…always!

Who Gets What

Public Address Announcer Chicken Feed

Ok.  As we all know, some sports jobs garner millions.  From players to some broadcasters, the numbers make the average person salivate in awe.  Millions dropping on P.A. announcers, too? Quite to the contrary, the announcer receives, usually, something more on the order of chicken feed for all that squawking they do.  Ah, the good-natured P.A. folks…  These wonderful people are prattling away to a live audience for???…mostly, the love of it.

Public Address Announcer Cash

Sure.  Those receiving the millions can love their gig, too.  It does appear a job paying a whole load ‘o dough is easier love, irrespective of duties.  Certainly always amusing when any of us get wind that a soul raking in the gold hates their job, huh.  P.A. game day folks?  They’re lovin’ it…dough, no dough.

Megaphone Earth

Announcers are the Happiest Bunch

They could be NBA types or local youth league sorts.  All p.a. announcers contain the intrinsic chemistry to be prolific in sales.  Why?  They ostensibly like everyone.  They are the most friendly bunch I’ve ever been associated with.  They help each other.  They share.  They’re great communicators.  And 99.9% have a big damn smile on their face…especially in the announcer’s chair.  Their heads are “all in” at game time and yet, their disposition remains congenial. …a happy group…

Public Address Announcer Love

An inexplicable feeling runs through the bones of an announcer the moment they pass through the entrance to the stadium, arena or field.  You need not even ask them why.  The rush of emotion conjures a facial expression which can only be described as love: the love of being there, the love of the environment, the love of doing the work.

Public Address Announcer Relaxing

If the pennies matched the deportments, you’d have an entire population of squawkers relaxing in pools in Beverly Hills driving Ferraris to the stadium because, rich or not, they would not give up that mic for anything.  Boy, Ferraris and pools DO make for great pipe-dreaming, don’t they?  Forget all that though.  Isn’t it high-time for P.A. pennies to nudge toward nickels?  Two pennies?  Penny and a half?  Maybe?  Probably.  Well, there needs to be an indisputable value proposition, no?  Ja.  There just needs to be a sell there which successfully argues in favor of the ol’ public address announcer. 

Yes, yes.  It may be apparent the public address announcer already; however, hiring organizations so often devalue the position as a simple function which utters names and basic game information.  Those that announce regularly know that the function is NOT simple, requires ability and discipline, comes with stage performance pressure and, this cannot be emphasized enough, goes wholly underutilized by vast numbers of employers.  That’s correct.  Underutilized.

Public Address Announcer Pennies

High School and College

Let’s put our attention on high school and college.  More public address announcers land in these environments than any other.  Let’s, also, keep the word love in the back of our minds as we go along.  After all, love keeps manifesting the P.A. person game after game, ad infinitum

Public Address Announcer Pleased

Many of these institutions pay by the game (some by the hour).  It’s not unusual to see 40, 50, 60, 70 dollars per contest.  Sporadically, a 100, 200 or even more precipitates down on the lucky fellow or lady.  Circumstances dictate these numbers.  For example, a very long swim meet will garner more.  Also, a large university with a tier 1 athletic sport will get an announcer more.  Irrespective, under a hundred is where most pay lands.  (Let’s not overlook those fortunate places with a bloke that volunteers.) Do these numbers do the work justice though?  I don’t know.  The response from announcer to announcer will vary.  For so many folks, the love will outweigh the dollars.  They are pleased as peaches to be paid but, considerably, happier to be sitting there doing their thing.

Disciplined People

Good announcers will almost always go through a similar drill.  They will want to see rosters and scripts beforehand so, they can review and practice.  Not a one hungers to stumble around on the microphone in a live environment.  Do they get everything they want ahead of time?  Nope.  But, they hope.  They want to be ready is the point.  I have not met a good P.A. person in my life who doesn’t prepare in some way and prefer to be totally prepared.  Luck favors the prepared, right?  Right!

Public Address Announcer Luck Favors the Prepared
Public Address Announcer Justice Time Money

Some will spend hours getting themselves ready while others only need a half-hour to check over rosters and scripts.  These are, typically, unpaid hours but, hours, nonetheless, required for doing a good job.  In kind, time is spent after the contest cleaning up as well.  If paid by the contest, this is unpaid time as well.  Nobody asks an announcer to clean-up their area but, just about every last one does.  Terrific p.a. announcers, also, arrive 60-90 minutes prior to game time to get themselves setup.  Additionally, quite a few announcers drive the country mile to get a location.  It goes without saying the driving eats gasoline, burns up tires, uses up brakes and reduces time between tune-ups…all expenses we are all too familiar with.  You add all this up and, suddenly, 6+ hours (often, more) has been burned up for a contest whereby two or three Andrew Jacksons are handed over with a perfunctory “Thank you” and a handshake as bonuses. 

PA Announcer Parachute

Goodness.  If this was a regular office job, every last one of us would be bouncing off walls for being held to mountains of unpaid extra effort.  In fact, some would be ready to quit or sue.  Alas, there’s the good ol’ announcer, driving here, driving there, early to arrive, late to leave, preparing beforehand and cleaning up afterward.  Being an announcer, this comes across egotistical along with going way out on the limb alone but, public address announcers are gifts from the sky.

Feasibility Within Proximity

Don’t get me wrong.  Most organizations appreciate their great reliable announcer.  They most certainly do but, with our ever-inflating economy, affordability is the fastest growing challenge for the run-of-the-mill public address announcer.  I know one or two in recent times who have dropped off simply because they could not afford the fun anymore.  As a result, P.A. announcers, many times, end up being folks that live down the road from the high school or university.  This paradigm of announcing feasibility within proximity limits an announcer’s selection of possible organizations and limits organizations’ choices of announcers.

…and so…

announcer birthday cake

The moment places ante up bigger numbers, announcers, who would normally resist the additional 20-mile trek, would widen their gaze.  This widening translates into more competition for gigs.  Competition drives up quality and professionalism.  Plus, announcers are fanatics.  They will drive any darn place for an awesome gig, especially, if the compensation frosts the cake.

Strangely, quite a few PA folks don’t get tangled up in the dearth of cash.  In any other profession, a person would claw up concrete with their fingernails as a company tried to drag them down the road toward a job exchanging infinitesimal crumbs for a heck of a lot of sweat.  BUT, announcers just love sitting there.  They get the best seat in the house.  They talk sports for hours, on and off the mic.  They get energized by the press box busyness.  Some pick and play music.  Many get a fan base who love the sound of their voice.  After a time, they become a known quantity where they work and in the surrounding community.  Oh you bet, a bit of celebrity status arises from those golden pipes.  Some get interviewed by the press while others get invites to do fun community events.  I could go on and on.  Bluntly, they have a great time.  It’s 360 degrees of sunshine.  Believe me.  Unfortunately, the remuneration might likely be the sun spots.  …snickers…

Celebrity Status

Public Address Announcer Statue

We aforementioned in the prior paragraph that celebrity status evinces.  What about that?  Well, here we go.  Announcers’ voices emerge to be as recognizable as a movie star’s face.  When an onlooker arrives to the stadium for the umpteenth time, plops down in their seat, hot dog in one hand, beer in the other, ready to take in the ball game, incongruity twists the insides when an unfamiliar voice seeps into the ears.  The feeling for so many people is uncanny. 

Public Address Announcer Food

Contrary to the opinion of those peddling the merits of corporate change, everyday people hate change.  In saying that, people in ballparks get comfy with their announcer.  The come to love his/her voice.  Over time, they learn the face.  They say “Hello!”.  This is why many institutions hang on to a great announcer for 20, 30, 40…50 years!  An announcer can evolve to be as commonplace as the oxidized copper statue in the quad of any college.

Vin Scully

I recall when Vin Scully retired from the Los Angeles Dodgers some time back.  I found it difficult to watch the ballgame on television because I’d become so conditioned and comfortable with his delivery of the broadcast over the years.  Not that the new folks were bad, the entire scene without Scully unsettled me.  I heard his voice for years.  I knew how he would speak and the types of things he would say.  I could focus on the enjoyment of watching the game, primarily, because components of the broadcast were consistent.  The same runs for any place I’ve attended over time whereby the same PA announcer has been sitting at that scorer’s table for years.  If they do a good job, I enjoy the game more because that piece of the event is consistent and familiar.  As an attendee, I feel good with my hot dog watching the game and hearing that familiar voice which envelopes everyone there.

Forging Comfort

Administrators are so happy when that public address announcer arrives.  I get it myself.  I can see the confidence jump in folks when I walk through the door because that microphone will be one less thing to worry about.  You better believe that microphone is something to worry about.  Why?  Not a damn one wants to be forced on to the mic to talk to a horde of people.  (Additionally, face it.  99% are terrified of that microphone.  They really are.)  Oh yes, delivery of the game and copy in a consistent manner brings solace to everyone involved.  Oh yes, players hearing their names announced the same way as always is one less thing to unsettle before they step in the batter’s box.  Oh, yes, yes, yes.  We do live in a world which thrives on the rote.

Don’t forget.  Coaches do NOT like to lose.  Their program could be 0 and 25 but, losing game 26 will still send sparks out of their skulls.  No doubt, they want their team walking into a consistent, familiar environment because that increases the chances of focus on just the game…and not what’s different.  Change can create an instant tailspin (…anyone who doesn’t believe this should take a quick peek at the change management industry…).  For teams, change of opponent or venue is enough change.  LOL.  Having that same public address announcer at every game, performing the exact same way, providing that oh-so-familiar delivery, is a differentiator by not being different.  Sounds funny, huh.  

Listen, do we, as humans, work better where we are comfortable or where we are uncomfortable?  Of course, you know the answer.  So often (not always), consistency yields comfort.  If a person is uncomfortable, not only will they not perform consistently but, they won’t want to be there.  This is just behaving like a human being.  I led people, at an executive level, for many years.  Those that were comfortable stayed longer, did better jobs, performed with a predictable consistency and showed up with a smile on their faces.  Those folks which were less comfortable, usually, left.

Typically, that regular public address announcer is comfortable sitting there and, poignantly, with the people around them.  Otherwise, the announcer would do less of a good job and likely leave.  Announcers are not exempt of team dynamics.  Faulty chemical formulas tend to explode…and working teams are very much akin to chemical formulas.

Chemist announcer scientist

Intrinsic Value

So, places want that same good announcer sitting there.  They need that same good announcer sitting there.  Therefore, they should value that same good announcer sitting there.  Yes, they should.

Public Address Announcer Employers

The biggest value good announcers provide gets so undervalued I can’t believe it.  Announcers understand though.  They are unequivocal on it.  There’s no mistaking that value once it’s been spelled out.  For the peanut gallery and the cheap seats, we will put this very special value on its very own line.  Here goes…

Everything the public address announcer says, everyone hears.

Oopsie! to the oblivious employers of the world!  Oh, my.  Whoosh! Did that just go over a few heads?  I repeat.  I will even put it on a separate line again but, make it a bit louder.  After all, us announcers are good at getting loud.

Everything the public address announcer says, everyone hears!!!!!

Public Address Announcer Suprised

That’s right.  Oops! As p.a. announcers, how many places have we been where there’s been no script or reads?  Oops!  Holy smoke!  You mean an organization has hundreds, even thousands, of people sitting there…completely captive…and they, recklessly IMHO, blew an opportunity to send messages to them all at once?  What???  Are you freakin’ kiddin’ me?!  They were so concerned about winning their ballgame that they missed a chance to have sponsor commercials, community announcements or school promotions?  And what’s this?!  The announcer turned out to be a volunteer, so they were getting public speaking for free?!?!?!?!  Goodness gracious!  Everyone should be fired.  LOL!

Yes, people.  Your announcer is speaking to YOUR crowd, speaking on YOUR behalf and you’re not valuing and protecting it?  Oopsie! Moreover, if you have a good regular announcer, they put themselves under pressure to speak perfectly.  They are, also, very familiar with YOUR community who shows up.  What this means to you is they are quite comfortable and adept talking to them.  Who do YOU do a better job communicating with, people you are relaxed with or uncomfortable being around?

Time to rise and shine for the less mindful haunts.  They’ve got someone sitting there who is speaking to everyone in their arena.  I was announcing at a D3 school some time back.  I asked if he had a script of reads for me.  He told me and I quote, “No, we’re just Division Three.”  Oops!  Shame on that.  Simply astonishing, a school or company has a person sitting on a microphone, on behalf of them, talking to a crowd of their patrons and they don’t value that?  Tsk.  Tsk.  Tsk.

Copy No Copy

Public Address Announcer Grin

The situations in the past that have widened the grin the most are those, whereby, no guidance was provided yet, those in charge were disappointed by what was said into the microphone.  <<Shakes head>> Those same folks, typically, eschew the accountability for it as well.  Irrespective, a great opportunity got missed.

The better places provide page after page of structured copy scheduled to be read at specified times.  The better places are quite insistent about it.  Rightfully so.  The better places have long arrived to the healthy conclusion that their public address announcer is talking to everybody so…what’s spoken…better be right! No surprise, these very same places tend to be more organized, have teams of people running around and tend to pay more.  Shocker!!!

Up The Ante

Public Address Announcer Paycheck

Across the board, it’s time for places employing announcers to up the ante.  Upping the ante will do several things.  More cash will get a bigger smile out of your announcer.  It sends a message to announcers that management is serious about the public speaking in the press box.  It will, also, attract higher caliber of announcers.  This produces more competitive markets for announcing.  Competition is good.  Everyone works harder.  Quality pushes north.  It all gets exciting.

Public Address Announcer Climbing Steps

Crowd size should remain irrelevant.  Announcing to 3 or 30,000.  The announcer is still passing information to the patrons.  They can pass nonsense to the folks sitting there OR… they can announce exactly what organizations want the people to hear.  After hearing an announcement, a fan might wander up the steps to buy a t-shirt, sign-up for a program, etc.  You’re telling me companies, schools and organizations don’t value this?!  Of course, they do. 

Everyone wins in this deal.  They do.  Employers, announcers, sponsors, teams and patrons all come out ahead.  Let’s refer to it as investing in the expansion of the p.a. announcing universe.  It sounds fun, right?  Well, because it is!

A Momentary Digression on Copy

Public Address Announcer Brand

Where copy is concerned, consider announcers to be speaking billboards.  Not everyone reads a billboard.  Not everyone listens to an announcer.  (Hearing and listening are two very different things.  Anyone in disagreement lives in the complete dark.)  On the other hand, the reason billboards exist is because advertisers and marketers consider every driver, rider and pedestrian to be a prospect which their message could flip into a customer.  The philosophy underpinning this thinking is driven by a concept known as brand recognition

Repetition plays a major role in this brand recognition business.  You see a billboard over and over as you head to work, truly, paying little to no attention.  However, that brief flash in front of the eyes, over and over, cements the logo or message into your memory.  This is exactly what they want.  

Is the PA announcer any different in this regard?  The people in the stands are the very prospects a sponsor could flip into a customer or the organization could get signed-up for a new promotion.  Often, the same copy with the organization’s or sponsor’s name is read repetitively.  This is brand recognition hard at work.   I have asked many administrators and marketing folks, “How upset do your sponsors get when their reads are either not done or done wrong?”  We already know the answer.

Announcer Jewel

Make no mistake.  The person on the microphone performing the reads is valuable.  If their voice is pleasant and easy to listen to, they are extremely valuable.  If you add to that a voice that patrons have heard for years which they are comfortable with, super valuable!  Lastly, imagine that voice making little to no mistakes.  Oh boy.  Talk about having a diamond!  And do tell, would any normal person protect that diamond by laying on the kitchen counter or keeping it on the ring finger where it belongs?

Seriously.  If I were the athletic director at a college (as an example), I would be very temperamental about every single message delivered, written or oral, to the public.  If I were a sponsor, I would have secret agents showing up to spy, ensuring my reads were performed to my satisfaction.  If I oversaw communications, I would want to know the announcer I hired could do the job so, I need not worry.  If I managed marketing, I’d want those promotions done when and how I wanted them performed.  The announcer would be talking to MY organization’s public.  Frankly, the thought amazes.  In fact, I would be wanting to pay my PA and broadcasters enough to ensure they are telling MY organization’s public exactly what the organization wanted them to hear.

The Conundrum

So, here in lies the conundrum.  High School X has an announcer that they pay $40 per game (don’t take the numbers too serious…just ride along with me for a stint).  Great!  That announcer burns (as an example) two hours prepping themselves.  They drive and burn gas for a half-hour each direction.  They routinely arrive 90 minutes prior to the ballgame.  They stay 30 minutes after to clean up.  The game work is 3 hours.  They are a great announcer for High School X that everyone knows in and around the community.  The simple math above comes to 8 hours.  High School X has just compensated their wonderful p.a. person $40 for 8 hours of effort.  We will subtract out the drive time in fairness.  A bit of elementary school division demonstrates High School X pays under $5.71 per hour to the individual who is speaking to all their patrons.  Oops!

Public Address Announcer Toy

Does the public address announcer for High School X take the $40?  You bet.  Why?  They love being their more than the money involved. Not alarming that the PA is likely doing their own scripting as well.  Oh, wow.  So, High School X is getting the ring WITH the diamond.  Yes, High School X is valuing their announcer like a little rubber alien toy attained for two quarters out of a gumball machine.  From our example, they, also, support the announcer’s efforts poorly in kind, otherwise, they would provide the scripts.  Worse yet, the school has no idea what the script says.  Again, HELLO!  The announcer is talking to your 4,000 folks who arrived to Friday night lights!  Holy cow, right?!

An arrogant AD once told me, “Oh, well, they’re really all here to watch the game.”  Seriously?!  Are we THIS naïve?  My experience is that two-thirds of the folks are too busy socializing, have little interest in anything but the score and have only a rudimentary understanding of the game.  This two-thirds tends to scream when everyone else does with little to no idea what happened.  However, a voice sears through the humidity after every down, prior to each batter, during timeouts, between innings, after sets and more. 

Admittedly, winning teams (especially, winning teams) attract attendees.  This is great!  They do arrive intending to see the game.  As a great observer of people in the crowd, I find, unless something super exciting is happening, more chitty-chattying is going on than anything else.  Irrespective, a wise organization will realize, “Aha!  I have them all sitting there.”  The misguided one gets wrapped up solely on the field, floor or ice.

Public Address Announcer Magic Wand

That voice speaks.  People hear.  I know there are those don’t truly believe this.  Again, don’t be foolish.  People DO hear.  Some batters will NOT enter that batter’s box until they hear their name.  Some basketball players will wait at the free throw line until their name is said.  Oh, yes.  Fans will NOT stand until that read for the anthem is done; although, they know exactly that it’s about to happen.  People suddenly scream when that voice mandates “Make some noise!”  Some might stand up and buy that new baseball cap because that voice said the shop is on-site today.  Others go on to their phones when the voice proclaims the kid’s club is available for signups.  That voice.  That voice.  That voice.  That voice has magic powers that High School X cannot begin to fathom.  BUT, it’s time they started cluing in.

Various levels (local school to pro) have various valuations of the announcer.  ‘Tis true.  Some get paid well.  Some get paid diddly squat.  Some care about what is announced.  Some do not.  The pitch here is to begin conversations about that voice because that voice is talking to every darn person.  Nooooo, discussions should not be around just paying more.  The conference table debate needs to revolve around value-add.  Announcing is a channel.  Leveraged wisely, High School X’s diamond could be producing gold.

Pay That Announcer More

Pay that announcer more.  Give them triple the reads and set expectations.  If the announcer can’t handle it, High School X will realize, after 20 years, they’ve had the wrong announcer.  The PA needs to be capable of speaking on High School X’s behalf to an entire crowd. 

Public Address Announcer Jail

By the way, this includes the crowd and team that showed up on the visiting side.  What message might High School X send if their announcer sounds professional and has lots of good copy to read to everyone?  Consider the sponsors getting a voice talking to those wonderful out-of-town visitors who might by a shirt or show up to the local restaurant.  My, my, my.  Do some organizations truly believe an announcer only speaks to a home crowd?  Perish the thought.  Again, shame, shame, shame to the management that thinks this way.  Bluntly, they should spend a bit of time in the town pillory.  LOL!

Ok, hyperbole aside.  Most places know the P.A. is speaking and the words hit all the ears there.  They just don’t discern how much they should be valuing that.  The PA system is spewing out super-valuable information by a person, usually, considerably more aware of this than those doing the employing really understand.  It’s easy to get though.  It’s valuable.  It is and, everyone needs to start saying so across the board.

meat platter food

Should the PA price go from chicken-feed to filet mignon?  Well…  Speaking for myself, “Yes!”  In reality, graduating from chicken-feed to, say, hors d’oeuvres could get a good point across.  If High School X pays $40, $60-$75 is not a stretch.  When talking these types of numbers and administrations begin dribbling nonsense about budgets, the response should unequivocally be, “Tsk.  Tsk.  Tsk.” 

You mean to tell me that High School X, during a 6-game home season, cannot afford an extra $120 when they are garnering crowds of 4,000 to their home games?  Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.  These folks should be paying $100 per game at minimum and receiving, concurrently, the lecture on how the PA speaks to every last person there…all game long…every darn game…  After a time, this “speaking to everyone on their behalf” business will start to resonate and, a hundred bucks will not mean much.

Dear management,

Your public address announcer is your voice to the masses.  Value them.  Leverage them.  Pay them…properly.  Be practical.  This is not a stretch.  It really isn’t.  If your event is such that your PA is a volunteer and is good, a monster opportunity has happened upon you.  Make the most of the moment.  Consider yourself lucky.  Otherwise, you need to be judicious on who is on that microphone, what copy is provided to that individual and ensure the compensation is commensurate to the result.  That announcer is a major advertising and marketing mechanism: both vocal barrels, fully-loaded, aimed at YOUR community of patrons.

You would think in the 21st century it would not need to be explained anymore.  This is not just about places being cheap.  If it was all about cheapness, I would not have started typing.  Recall, the PA person performs for the love it; however, in our current world, there does need to be a bit more than love to spin things up.  Recompense equals warrant.  Catching on, I see.  Level of pay should be proportional to how much a guarantee the copy is read properly and the contest is announced appropriately.

If management’s mindset is pittance, little assurance bears out that the crowd will receive the desired messages on behalf of the institution or company.  Juxtaposing a thought process, which supposes paying enough to ensure a professional is on the mic, precipitates an intended experience.  An intended experience…  What a concept!  The organizations gravitating to the latter model end up with the stronger candidates consistently delivering communiqués, clean and professional.  No “Aha!” moment with this idea.

Robots? Gimme a Break

Public Address Announcer Robot

BTW, the fools dreaming that the public address announcer will ultimately be replaced by automation will be severely disappointed in the result.  The most salient value of that regular announcer is the community engagement.  Just imagine robot voices generating community engagement.  Hmm..  Do we really want robots talking to folks in the stadium about our organizations?  I will leave it at that.

To add on, organizations that compensate better tend to have those scripts pre-written.  They do not want some slip-shod on-the-fly bogus gobbledygook flying out of the speaker system.  They do not want some wild parent volunteer with a penchant for playing microphone inciting their crowd.  The do not want anything counterproductive proffered for public consumption…only what they want their crowd to hear…only!

So, it’s time… time for all D-Levels, community colleges, high schools as well as other related organizations and companies of any size to catch on.  Whether 12 or 120,000 show up, care must be taken with that microphone.  I have an old dynamite analogy.

Public Address Announcing is comparable to dynamite.  Handled carefully, you could dig a diamond mine.  Handled recklessly, you might blow your hands off. 

Public Address Announcer Dynamite

PA versus Play-by-Play

Announcers are different than play-by-play broadcasters as well.  Comparably, both speak publicly but, the broadcaster’s live audience lives at the other end of say a television, radio, iPhone or webpage.  It’s more of a one on one interaction even though the broadcaster realizes they are speaking to many. 

Why more 1-1?  Well, broadcasters, the good ones anyway, call the game as if they were sitting next to the person they were speaking to.  If a mistake happens, a correction is spoken.  To great extent, no harm – no foul.  (Ok. Ok.  This is not entirely true but, you get my point.)  Correction made…move on.  Trust me, the broadcasters do NOT like making mistakes either…ever.  However, they happen but, there’s no crowd to just start yelling back at you, no live audience in an arena to get upset by the error.

On the other hand, the P.A. announcer is a one to many relationship only.  When the announcer speaks into the mic, oodles hear all at one time…live and on the spot.  When a mistake is spoken, everyone right in front of them hears it.  When a mistake, say a mispronounced batter name, is caught by some in the crowd, they cannot wait to let the announcer know.  When a correction is made, everyone hears it all at once.  That same group may, also, vocalize.  For the unfortunate announcer, no filter exists.  It goes from P.A. person directly to the crowd in attendance.  Good announcers put themselves under great pressure to speak perfectly to the spectators.  Constant corrections made to a live audience grow to sound sloppy and reflect badly on the announcer and, more importantly, the organization.

Public Address Announcer Mistakes

Really good p.a. announcers make few mistakes, though.  Also, they are so smooth at correcting them that the layman hardly notices.  This talent takes experience and practice.  This ability is value-add.  This proficiency garners more money if an organization wants to turn things up a notch…pardon the amplifier pun.  Organizations and announcers that operate in a higher caliber harbor no ambiguity that the people are hearing and many are listening.

Public Address Announcer Video

To go along with this, the world constantly has their phones running.  They are taking videos and showing them on the internet.  Oh yes, you bet.  People have posted videos of PA announcer blunders so they can run around saying, “Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  I got it!  I posted it!  Look at my video!  Listen to the PA screw up!  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!”  These very, same insecure fools do the same to broadcasters constantly.  This means the pressure to be perfect on the mic is higher than ever in history.

And, oh, the aversion to that chair!  I’m never late to a gig…never.  In fact, folks are conditioned to me showing up 60-90 minutes ahead.  A handful of times in my life I’ve run a little behind that schedule.  Upon arrival, the relief flowing into the faces of those waiting for me there had “I don’t have to get on the mic.  Thank God!”  painted into the pink of their cheeks!  LOL!  Places are glad you, the grand announcer, are sitting in that chair.  They want you sitting in that chair.  They need you sitting in that chair.  If you happen to be the regular person, they really, really, really want and need you in that chair.  If you are the regular, likely you are meeting or exceeding their expectations.  They want you delivering all that copy to their patrons.   This is value-add. 

Public Address Announcer Listening

Listen, the announcer communicates to a greater multitude of people than anyone else…by far, far, far.  Let’s list: players, coaches, managers, officiating crews, administrators, athletic directors, grounds crew, game day staff, marketing managers, marketing representatives, broadcasters, security, police, food vendors, non-food vendors, sponsors, home crowd, visiting crowd, folks in the parking lot, people walking by, etc.  The voice even seeps into television and radio broadcasts.

That’s right.  I listed broadcasters.  I’ve had more broadcasters tell me they listen to see how I pronounce various names than I can shake a stick at.  I’ve, also, been told they listen to hear for my call on penalties, substitutions, etc.  Everyone is listening.  I mean everyone!

Fine, be wise-guys. No, not everyone is listening.  Announcers must speak presuming everyone is listening.  Any alternative rationalization on this is sorely misadvised.  Management must presume that when the announcer speaks, everyone is listening.  Counterposing this line of thinking is an administrative and marketing travesty.  Organizations need to condition themselves that all and sundry are listening!  This is it.  This is the assertion, corroboration and conclusion all wrapped in a cute, little, romantic gift with a big, red bow.

Value Proposition

Where does all this leave announcers?  Raising awareness wherever they go.  As a community, they must encourage organizations to recognize the high-value good announcing delivers and that a greater parity between performance and compensation must come to bear.  Value propositions must be indisputable.  Conversations should aim at future considerations.  Good-sells build foundations for years to come.

woman calculator invoice office

If hear the word “Budget” again, I’ll scream!

Very often, budget is a major pretext.  From my perspective, as I’ve managed many multi-million dollar budgets in my past, I find this to be amusing reasoning.  Consider our hypothetical, 6-game football season where the thousands arrive every time.  Is it not myopic to be penny wise on the very area vocalizing on behalf of the school to those thousands for a couple of hundred bucks??  When it’s presented as such, quite a few heads nod.

Budgets are planning tools not limitation devices.  Companies treating budgets like plans tend to be more successful.  Those going another route tend to struggle.  Why?  Budgets become tools of control.  Restraining an organization by budget is a bad concept because it cultivates an environment of apprehension over encouragement.  Leadership which leverages their people with budget constraints does not stage their organization for success.

Winning organizations pay for potential of success.  They don’t like losing.  Professional sports are famous for it.  Look at the exorbitant player and coach salaries.  Executives are not paying players huge to lose.  In college, some coaches are paid millions because winning programs get on television a lot.  Getting on television leads to much, much more money.  It’s not an enigmatic paradigm.

Big time television broadcasters collect as well.  Why?  Folks who like them watch the show.  Usually, thousands, maybe millions, will watch their show.  If show ratings are up, advertisers show up.  Advertisers mean money.  Again, not a hard model to follow.

The war of business cannot be won if those in charge lack the courage to go down with the pirate ship.  Chances must be taken.  Budget control is not a good choice for navigating an organization into the unchartered waters of the future.

Why do you think so many successful companies are headed up by marketing and sales folks rather than, say, finance?  If finance leadership drove growth, 90% of CEOs would be former CFOs.  Entrepreneurial mentality grows and drives, not crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s and controlling the numbers.

Sorry folks…no offense to finance people…I have my love for you, too…but…you gotta be willing to go down with the pirate ship to win.  This means lots and lots of risk taking.

Should Announcers Get Millions?

Public Address Announcer Spectator

And so…

Should announcers get millions?  I dunno.  Should announcers get more than they do?  You betcha. Everyone in that stadium hears everything they say.  This piece has said this over and over.  A theme is emerging, I hope.  Laughs.   

Just prior, millions were discussed and here your esteemed author is arguing for hundreds.  Silly as it sounds, hundreds here and hundreds there make a difference to your announcer who loves announcing regardless of dollars.  Certainly, thousands for bigger, larger organizations.  These are infinitesimal figures when considering the possibilities for those listening in the ballpark, stadium or arena.

Public Address Announcer Hope

Encourage.  Encourage.  Encourage.  It’s a 12 point word not including the double and triple word scores.  Remind everyone that everything you spew into the microphone… everyone hears.  This IS the value proposition and, it’s indisputable.  It will take perseverance and time but, one by one, better organizations will buy into this and respond in a positive way to the benefit of public address announcer folks.  

So, is it for love or money?  Love, of course.  However, it must trend toward being for love and more money.  There’s 5000+ words of my two cents for two more pennies.

About Matthew C Wallace

Matthew C. Wallace is the owner of He is a public address announcer, writer, webmaster, historian, author as well as a former executive and musician. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and children.

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