Burning Bridges

Recently, a fellow P. A. announcer shared that he’d lost a job that was once his, but due to family and other responsibilities, he had to step away from last year.  This year he would have been able to come back, however the organization found another announcer to take over. Through the course of conversation

Recently, a fellow P. A. announcer shared that he’d lost a job that was once his, but due to family and other responsibilities, he had to step away from last year.  This year he would have been able to come back, however the organization found another announcer to take over.

Through the course of conversation with other P. A. announcers, you could tell there were a few that were in the same situation at some point in their career, and it’s something that all announcers will go through at some point if you stick around long enough, or try to spread your wings.  But the thing to remember, is to never burn your bridges.

In the situation above, the original announcer left, and then decided to come back.  I was in that same situation in 2006.  In 2004, I was the P. A. announcer and DJ for the Potomac Cannons of the Carolina League.  In 2005, a move to Oregon put me in as the DJ for the Portland Beavers and Portland Timbers.  However, in last 2005, I moved “back home” and contacted the now Potomac Nationals about their P. A. announcer position.  I left, they found someone else to take over.  However, in my inquiry, I also asked about working in the front office.  After a few conversations I was to come in as the team’s Media and Public Relations Coordinator, along with P. A. announcing and music.

I never knew who it was that was there the second time, though I do know who the first announcer was.  He and I have collaborated on a couple of projects.  All I know about the second person, is the gentleman’s name was Jordan and he worked at XM Radio.  A few years later, I would work with a gentleman named Jordan, who works at XM Radio, however is not the same person.

Back to the situation, when leaving Potomac, had I burned my bridges, coming back would not have been an option.  I left many good relationships in the DC area, so coming back was smooth from that aspect.  The teams were happy to have me back, though there were a few jobs that fell through the cracks.

Some announcers would get upset at having the rug pulled out from underneath them, however had Potomac said “thanks, but we have someone,” my response would have been to help out wherever possible.  That 2006 season would turn into a nightmare of a season for me professionally, however in the end it allowed me other opportunities to grow and expand.  It was a bad situation with it ending the way it did, and they did wind up burning a bridge with me.  There have been times in the past someone from their front office has called me about sponsorship or filling in, however the bad taste that was left in my mouth made an easy decision for me.

Now, turn the tables.  A general manager, director of game operations, etc., is in a full-time position and is the position of power.  The belief in some cases, “we can find anyone to announce,” and while that’s true, only a few can announce well.  That’s what separates the good organizations from the bad.  There are some organizations who would rather have a mediocre or suitable announcer who can make all the games, than a really good or terrific announcer that can make most games, missing only a couple rare games.  With those thoughts in mind, the P. A. announcer, who feels he or she is really good and isn’t getting that kind of response from management, really isn’t in a position of power so if a team can find someone who is reliable, that can be more important to them than quality.

Is this the best way to go about things?  No, I’ve been around a couple of organizations that have had good announcers who have to miss a game or two here or there.  They keep their popular announcer, and use a fill-in on the rare occasion.  I’ve been that fill-in on a couple of occasions.  However, that team’s want to have the best, allows for this kind of situation.

From the management side, some things to weigh, that not all do:

  1. Is it better to have an adequate announcer who doesn’t add much to the game atmosphere who is there every night; or an announcer that adds to the atmosphere and increases fan enjoyment, but who may miss a game or two?
  2. Is it better to have an announcer whose only job is announcing for your team; or an announcer who may announce for a local high school or college in addition to your team?
  3. Is it better to have an exclusive announcer, one who only does your games and that’s it; or an announcer who people associate with your organization whenever they are announcing another event within your community?

To help, here are some answers:

  1. While it’s good to know that your announcer will be there every night, if the announcer is stale or does not add to the atmosphere, your entire game production can come off as blah, boring, or put people off.  If you have a dynamic announcer, you’ll create an identity within your organization with your fans.  Allow your announcer to interact with the fans, and on the nights he/she cannot be there, you will find the replacement will step up their game because the bar has already been set high, while the other fans will be more supportive of the sub, who may be just as good as the adequate announcer.
  2. There are some who think having your P. A. announcer only do their games, and nothing else is a great way to protect your identity, you are losing on many free advertising opportunities.  In every city I’ve announced in, I did other sports, reached out to local organizations, helped with tournaments, and made contacts at colleges.  I haven’t been back to Tampa since 2000, yet there are still people at University of Tampa who remember my work there and if I were to ever move back there, have a good chance at announcing a few games if I wanted to.  But that also was a feather for the school because they had the P. A. announcer from one of the Minor League Baseball teams.  It was true in every city in which I worked and all were thankful.  Plus, people at hockey, football, basketball, and soccer games were saying, “he’s the announcer for the [baseball team].”  That’s free advertising and great guerilla marketing.  You get people talking about your team in a place they wouldn’t normally talk about it.
  3. This is similar to number two, keeping your announcer to yourself can seem like a good idea, but you lose out on those free marketing dollars and opportunities.  When I announced a few baseball games for St. Petersburg Catholic High School, I would bring tickets and give them away for trivia prizes.  In other cities, we’d do the same thing, and people would come to the game.  I wasn’t packing the stadium with free tickets, but the four tickets I’d give away to a Tuesday night game would bring a couple of people, a couple of friends, and a few of their friends along too.  We’d get 8-12 more people for every four tickets I gave away, and those extra people were paying full price to something they probably hadn’t planned on going to.

The key here is, on both sides, don’t burn your bridges.  There are a couple of organizations I simply won’t work with based on their personnel.  They know who they are, however I’ve let them know that if things change, I’d be interested in coming back.  There are also a couple of organizations that won’t work with me, because of youthful transgressions and lessons that I learned through this whole process.  However, some of those organizations have started to call me, so the saying “time heals all wounds” can be true as well.

Jarrod Wronski

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