Insider Info on Game Announcing with Andy Grady

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A few words on being an FRC Game Announcer from the Andy Grady:

I remember the days of being a student in the FIRST competition (Back then called U.S. FIRST).  Somewhere along the line, someone had a brilliant idea to take this competition we love, and make a spectacle out of it.  What resulted are the amazing sights and sounds you see today.  What is amazing is that energy really was started by the introduction of an announcer to the competition.  Back in the early days, there was Woodie, and a quick team introduction.  Over time, a man by the name of Rich Cox started calling play by play for the matches.  For a long time, he was the ONLY voice of FIRST.

Today, there are dozens of announcers and emcees doing their thing around the world.  The position of game announcer still adds an element that gives the competition life.  A good announcer can charge a crowd, enhancing the game, and elevating the excitement of the crowd over time.  You can’t just walk up off the street, grab the microphone, and be a pro, however.  Being a good announcer takes talent, a strong voice, and an ability to remember the fundamentals of the job.

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I have been a game announcer at FIRST competitions since 1999.  I started out by doing a little competition called Mayhem on the Merrimack.  One of my mentors was providing sound for the event and asked me if I was interested.  I always loved the idea of doing play by play, so I gave it a shot.  Over time, I fell in love with the job.  I reached out to more and more offseason events, getting as much experience as I could under my belt.  Finally in 2004, I announced at my first regional event in New York City, and to this day I continue to do events ranging from district events all the way to the FIRST Championship itself.

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Over time, I have accrued a ton of experience and have learned many lessons.  If you aspire to be an announcer, take these tips, and maybe they will help you…

  1. Start off small and practice, practice, practice.  As I said, you can’t just grab a mic coming off the street and expect to be a pro.  Not only that, but if you want to make your way towards announcing at an event, you should do so by working your way up and getting heard.  It is better for you, and it is better for the crowd.
  2. Remember that the competition is not about you.  The competition is about the kids.  The sooner you realize that, the more you will understand the scope of your job.  You are there to enhance the show, not be the show.
  3. Get to know the teams at your events.  Meeting people is important.  They will tell you stories, or give you information that you can use throughout the competition during your play by play.  Teams really appreciate when you get personal about them during a match.  Short little blurbs about some sort of challenge they had to overcome goes a long way.
  4. Work with your emcee to be a strong team.  You should communicate with your emcee throughout.  Keep the emcee updated on what you are seeing.  If you know facts about teams, share them with him/her.  Most important, be ready for the start of the match every time.  The emcee shouldn’t have to wait on you for a silly reason.
  5. Listen to yourself and be critical.  You can’t improve unless you hear the things that you need improvement on.  If you find yourself repeating phrases, change it up.  If you use team numbers too much, mix in team names.  If you hear a funny inflection in your voice, work to make it more crisp.  There is always something you can do to get better, no matter how good you are.

These are just a few of many tips that you can catch by talking to any experienced announcer.  It never hurts to talk to one and find out what they do.  It is a tiring but rewarding role as a volunteer at an event.  Good luck, and have fun!

 

Article Content Provided by: Andy Grady

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