VO as Public Address announcing

Today is week 3 of high school football in Ohio.  Tonight my alma mater Hamilton Township High School (Columbus OH) takes the field for their first home game of the season, and I will begin my 21st season behind the microphone as their PA announcer.

I had to stop there and remind myself I’ve been doing this for 20 years.  Where does the time go?

Anyway, together with my USPS experience as a classroom instructor/facilitator, PA announcing has done a lot to prepare me as a studio VO artist.

Mind you, it’s not a substitute for a quality voiceover training program.  However, working a microphone for every home home event for football, boys basketball, and track and field each year does wonders if you are interested in working on vocal quality and delivery.  And if you strive for continuous improvement each year (as I do), you will learn the important of sight-reading and reducing errors while working “live”.   Not only that, you get to meet a lot of interesting people, learn more about sports in general – and it’s fun!

Whether you are a newer VO artist looking for a developmental opportunity, or an established artists looking to expand your horizons, I hope you will find this post both beneficial and interesting.

What PA announcing opportunities exist out there?  Depending on where you live, there may be several.   The most obvious area would be athletic events  for middle schools and high schools, but there are a plethora of small colleges and community colleges to contact as well when just getting started.

Do PA announcers get paid, and how much?  It depends, and it depends.   Some elite announcers for professional teams have a per-game contract that provides a decent livable income.  Division I college football and basketball announcers may be paid on the order of $100 and up per event, depending on the sport involved,  budgets, the quality and experience of the announcer, and other factors.  For smaller colleges, it may be $20 to $50 per game.

In my case, I view my work for the high school as “paying forward”.  My parents worked as community volunteers for several years, including band and athletic events, just as many other parents and community members did and still do.  It just made sense for me to do likewise.

I am paid when my school hosts tournament events, but that money is paid by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and typically happens only once or twice a year.  It’s not a huge sum, but it’s a nice check for sitting down, running your mouth for 2.5 hours, and having the best seat in the house.  Plus, I can take my wife out to a nice dinner afterward on that money.

In addition, I’ve been the PA announcer for Columbus State Community college men’s and women’s basketball for the last 10 years.  I am paid as independent contractor per-game, as are all the other workers on the scorer’s bench.   Again, I’m not getting rich on it, but you can’t beat getting paid to watch college basketball three feet away from the action.

What are some other considerations about getting started as a PA announcer?  Is there training involved?   What are the downsides?

I’ll be talking about those and other things in my next post, so stay tuned.  Until then, put your best voice forward!


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