Originally, I set out to get my NASPAA certification for the sake of completeness. I’ve announced oodles of events. I already owned their book, “Voice Above the Crowd.” So, you could almost say this was a perfunctory exercise to get a little piece of paper with a logo signed by the powers that be. Officially, I’m an announcer because I can put CPAA next to my email signature. Right? Wrong.
I sat, patiently I might add, through the online course and what I discovered is I didn’t know it all. Knowing the game is one thing. Knowing all the itsy bitsy details around the game is another. For instance, they had an entire discussion on emergencies and how calm the announcer needed to remain. A frazzled voice over the P.A. could send a crowd into a dangerous frenzy. Common sense, right? Maybe for some, maybe not for others. There’s so much to this announcing business and much of it is not to be taken lightly. The #1 thing? Everyone hears everything you say. Make the effort and learn the trade then, everyone who hears everything… benefits.
So although I passed the exam with a 98% (actually, it was 99% but I broke the system and had to take the test twice which I did worse on…eek!!!), I have gone through their course listening to various excerpts quite a few times absorbing the training, guidelines and advice from the long time professionals. I, constantly, refer back to their book,”Voice Above the Crowd.” I use the materials as tools to give me something new, refresh things I think I know but lack confidence and reinforce my convictions. CPAA is a cute acronym but is no substitute for the knowledge and practice.
Recently, I even found and joined a Facebook group for public announcers. Plus, I’ve found similar groups on Twitter and created the Public Address Announcer group on LinkedIn myself! I’ve read all kinds of posts from the pros to the beginners. They ask questions, debate, congratulate and post “I’m Here!”. I have determined, after going through a diverse selection of posts, every level of announcer should go through that certification process if for no other reason but to spur thought: agree, disagree, debate, learn and improve.
There will be announcers who will disagree or agree about the “homer” syndrome. Others will nod their heads in affirmation of their personal practice as juxtaposed with what’s being taught. Some will sit back in their chair and go, “[email protected]#$%^! I didn’t realize that.” A select few, like myself, will get excited at an email from the ol’ NASPAA congratulating them on a job well done.
Well, I did a bit more than pat myself on the back over passing a test. I went back through my scripts and made some adjustments. I took another listen to my sample recordings on my website. I went back to the course and the book and said, “Hmmm…” I looked for areas of improvement because I want to get better all the time.
Counter to what the outside world believes and anyone at any level of the work knows this, announcing is not easy. You’re not supposed to make mistakes…ever. In some cases, you can’t take a bathroom break at a game. Why? Bathroom break time (typically, halftime) is big-time announcing time. Pre-game prep, when done right, takes a lot more time than you ever get paid for. Name pronunciations alone (especially in football) should garner all good announcers a bonus check. Taking care of your voice is a discipline. After all, that is our musical instrument AND we only get one. When it’s done, it’s done. Plus, we have to announce that game part as well, right? Right. There’s more complexity than spectators or even coaches and administrators understand.
I suggest to all you schools and organizations, which have volunteer announcers who come out and do a good job for you, that you say “Thank you!” and buy them lunch on occasion. They’re all doing a lot more for you than you think. In some cases, there are so many names to figure out that their brains are scrambled eggs by the end of the contest. Being on the mic has its distinct glories and anxieties. This is no simple feat what volunteer and paid announcers do for any institution or franchise.
Take the online course. I DO recommend it. At the end, you will decide it was worthwhile and important to your development. Pass the test. Put the CPAA proudly next to your name. Boast to your friends and colleagues but, don’t forget to use the course, the book and the NASPAA as tools for your own announcing success. Adjust, tweak and redo your own materials and style. Share your stories on Facebook and other places. Learn more, practice more, share more and enjoy announcing more. Your true reward is to plopping down in that chair, flipping the mic switch and doin’ it one more time.
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