Recently, we’ve fielded phone calls and seen messages online from P. A. announcers who are getting offers of “get paid in valuable experience” and “the honor of working in professional baseball”. These two sentences should be looked at closely when you’re put in the situation of being hired for an announcing job. There are many
Recently, we’ve fielded phone calls and seen messages online from P. A. announcers who are getting offers of “get paid in valuable experience” and “the honor of working in professional baseball”.
These two sentences should be looked at closely when you’re put in the situation of being hired for an announcing job.
There are many organizations who pay various members of their organization, such as the board of directors, full time staff, coaches, players, etc. If you’re dealing with a youth organization, it can be possible the coaches and members of the board are receiving a stipend for their services, and receive additional money to cover costs. So why is it they would ask someone to announce for free?
It goes back a long way when having an announcer was a novelty or a begrudging requirement, such as Little League Baseball tournaments. A lot of times, it’s just finding a warm body to speak on the microphone and that’s it. However, more and more announcers with skills, are making their way into society, and even though there are announcers who’ve been around for 30, 40 or 50 years as a volunteer are starting to retire, it’s still not right to ask someone to spend their time and not receive some sort of monetary compensation.
There’s that word that we’ll focus on, monetary compensation. Not cash, checks, etc., but compensation. Compensation can be monetary, but it can come in forms of merchandise (which have a monetary value), advertising (which has monetary value), concession credit (again that’s monetary value) or a combination thereof. This falls into the same category as the stipend and expenses given to coaches. However, announcers are expected in some cases to do it for the “exposure” (no monetary value) or the “honor” (no monetary value).
What’s happening, is you and your skills are being devalued. Now, this doesn’t mean the organizers are bad people, they may not quite understand what they are doing because the person who did it last year did the same thing, and the same before them. Probably 99.9999999% of the people who ask you to make this trade don’t understand what they’re doing because they’re trying to get someone to fill a role and to look good for their organization. Nothing wrong with trying to put on the best show possible and unless they’re educated into our world, may not understand that exposure does nothing in the long run.
Even if you’re just showing up to announce, and not bringing anything, you still need to drive to the event. But think of it this way as well, nearly all jobs require you to just show up, yet you’re still compensated for your time. They’re paying you to do a job or service, to which you agree to provide. But when a professional baseball team asks you to donate your time, say “no”.
If an organization that pays its players asks you to announce for free, decline. But don’t be afraid to ask for money. It’s amazing how much money and time teams spend to get people to come to their games versus how much they spend keeping people there. Does it make sense to spend thousands of dollars advertising a Tuesday night baseball game, to draw an additional 50 people, then spend $50 to pay the P. A. announcer that night? If an ad costs $1,000, whether in cash or trade value, that’s $20 spent to attract each fan, but then only $1 spent per fan to retain them and attempt to bring them back.
A good announcer can be worth thousands, while a bad announcer can cost you thousands. Unfortunately, there are numerous excuses made by people in power to combat that, and they’re excuses.
- “Nobody comes to hear the announcer.” Actually, yes they do. A good announcer is as essential to the overall environment as anything else. Bob Shepard was well known throughout baseball as the industry standard. Rex Barney is still a legend around Baltimore, nearly 20 years after his passing. Renel Brooks Moon is very well known in San Francisco. Wes Johnson has a huge following among Washington Capitals fans. All of these announcers make the experience. If there is a bad announcer, and the fans have a bad experience, they won’t blame the announcer directly, but they will blame a lot of other things that teams spend a lot of money on trying to fix. It’s like trying to fix the engine of a car that has a bad paint job. No matter how much money you spend on the engine, or on the interior, it’s still going to look like junk until you wash the car.
- “We don’t think it’s that important.” Numerous managers who have said this, their team or job no longer exists. While people come for the game, it’s the extras that keep people coming. That’s why Mike Veeck and his teams have been successful for decades. His dad Bill changed the face of professional sports (fireworks and exploding scoreboards were a Bill Veeck idea that we see everywhere now). A good mascot, a good in-game crew that’s smiling, a DJ who plays timely music, and an announcer who sounds professional can make even the most run-down of stadiums feel like a shining cathedral. Those extras are important, however teams don’t always seem to think so.
- “He’s been here for 50 years.” But have the fans been showing up for 50 years? There have been some good announcers who were mainstays at their positions for many decades. Shepard is one example. But he knew how to announce and delivered the right inflection at the right time.
- “It’s hard to find good help.” That’s not true. In fact, most of the time, the best help is right in front of the people who are looking, but they turn a blind eye or can’t quite see the forest through the trees. You know that kid that’s always hanging around, that’s happy to pull trash to the dumpster and smiles while doing it? That young lady who makes cookies for the players? That little boy who is shy to talk to the players, then looks at them with adoration when the player talks to him? Or the young lad who draws pictures for the players? Or the rink rat that’s always around, regardless of weather? Some times, these are the people who are shunned, scoffed at, labeled in a negative fashion, or any of a number of other excuses not to hire them. Those are the people you want working for you, and there are many reasons why.
- They would do the job for free, so the little pay they do they, they’re happy with.
- They’re less likely to take an unannounced night off.
- They’re less likely to leave for another job because it pays a dollar or two more an hour.
- They’re more likely to smile in the face of adversity (i.e. pulling tarp, long games, blowouts, an angry fan, etc.)
- They’re talking, a lot, to anyone and everyone who will listen. That’s free advertising.
- They love the team like it’s their own and will do whatever necessary for the betterment of the team.
- These are the people that others will fear making them look bad. When in true form, they’re doing a job the other person doesn’t enjoy but doesn’t want to do actual work, thinking it’s easy. It’s happened many times, in many places. These are the people you want in your front office because their first thought in the morning is the team, and their last thought at the end of the night is the team.
Announcing for the honor, or privilege of working in pro sports, or in situations in which others get paid, does not help fellow announcers and only devalues the skills that so many have worked at developing.
That all said, there are times it’s ok to announce for free. Most announcers have donated their time at one point or another. They’ve turned money back and refused to accept anything other than a thank you. Organizations who go out of their way to help you, or who are doing good for the community in obvious ways, are the kind you should donate your time for.
Paid Event Examples:
- Professional sports team (i.e. a team who is paying their players, charging admission, selling advertising, etc.)
- Colleges and universities
- Any time participating teams must pay an entrance fee in order to play (not all of those fees pay solely for the facility, there are other costs, and some of those include reimbursement for time and expenses for tournament officials)
Donate Your Time:
- Sports organization assisting veterans (i.e. USA Warriors or Disabled American Veterans)
- Sports organization assisting those with special needs (i.e. Special Olympics)
- An organization who puts on a fundraising event for a charity (i.e. Dig Pink, Pink in the Rink, etc.)
- A youth sports tournament this is hosted by, and held at, a local field in which volunteers are required for many positions, including coaching, umpires, field staff, concessions, etc.
Remember, when someone asks you to donate your time, you need to factor in to that how much it is worth to you. P. A. announcers don’t do the job because they’re getting rich doing it. It’s not going to happen unless you announce all day every day. But, announcing events does take time away from other avenues in life, such as family and compensation is always appreciated.
Now, if you’re just starting out and trying to make a name for yourself, then taking some free announcing jobs can help you out. You form and arrangement with organizers that you’ll announce their event to get your name out, but in exchange you advertise yourself during the games with how others can contact you. You could also ask for a web link on their website or mention in social media. That does help, but it has to be a two-way street in that you’re also promoting them.