The New Voice of Bragg The Finale

The New Voice of Bragg The Finale

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve followed the nationwide search for the new P. A. announcer at Bragg Memorial Stadium at Florida A&M University brought down to three finalists.  This week, we find out who is selected as the new “VOICE OF BRAGG”! Before we start, we get a chance to meet the judges

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve followed the nationwide search for the new P. A. announcer at Bragg Memorial Stadium at Florida A&M University brought down to three finalists.  This week, we find out who is selected as the new “VOICE OF BRAGG”!

Before we start, we get a chance to meet the judges who will come together for the final decision.  The list includes a who’s-who of names at Florida A&M including:

  • Albert Chester, Sr., FAMU QB and National Champion
  • John Spears, Former FAMU Spotter
  • Kenneth Jones, the original Voice of Bragg
  • Elmira Mangum, Ph.D, FAMU President
  • Milton Overton, Jr., FAMU Athletic Director
  • Elliott Charles, Deputy Athletic Director
  • Joe Bullard, Voice of The Marching 100
  • Woody Hayes, Voice of Doak Campbell Staidum (Florida State University)
  • Alvin Hollins, Assistant Sports Information Director

Our three finalists from last week who all put in some impressive auditions to get to the finals are:

  • Jacquell Lawson, majored in broadcast journalism and spent a lot of time on the air at FAMU working her way up to program director.  Has also been on Sirius XM and has done voice over work.  It’s that broadcasting background the was very noticeable last week in that she was very much on the broadcaster side of the microphone, rather than on the P. A. announcer side.
  • Curtis Ford, III, graduated from FAMU and is a videographer at The Florida Channel.  Served as the school’s mascot for three years and has been a lifelong FAMU football fan because it’s in his family’s blood.
  • Kofi Hemingway was born in Columbia, South Carolina before his parents moved to FAMU to teach at the school.  He grew up with The Marching 100, mimicking their actions during games and taking in the overall atmosphere.

This week, they’re given more of a test to read a welcome, add some in-game elements with help from spotter Spears, and given a cold or impromptu announcement.

Jacquell’s final showed her with great inflection and you could tell that she’s practiced a little for the stadium microphone, slowing her pace and tempo greatly from the previous round.  She did a good job of repeating what was said early, not embellishing much.  She then took a call and turned it into a touchdown adding her signature, “touchdown Rattlers!” which we heard twice.  She then fell back into broadcaster mode calling an interception as it was happening rather than recapping.  The final play, she was given a lot of information and had to ad lib based on what she could remember.  She really fell back into the broadcast announcer rather than P. A. announcer.  This could have hurt her overall.  When handed the cold read, she jumped on it pretty well, but came off like she was reading and wasn’t very fluid with the pace.  She did a good job on the car announcement, being very clear with the license plate number.

Now that you’ve had a chance to see what we wrote, we get to hear from the actual judges and a recap from Lawson herself.

Curtis starts with his welcome and did a good job with his inflections.  You could also tell he was smiling a little more and was a little more relaxed behind the microphone.  He recapped plays well with his own interpretation developing into his signature “first down” call.  His first touchdown call sounded like he jumbled up what he wanted to say and watching his reaction he knew it.  However, it didn’t sound too bad, but his energy overall wasn’t what we were hoping for which has been his Achilles heel throughout.  He was handed the impromptu script which also sounded like he was reading the announcement the first time through before relaxing.  His vehicle announcement, he did terrific on the letters, however the numbers were a little quick.

He was then reviewed by the judges with some similar feedback and in the post mortem he knew where he could have done better.  This shows he has a lot of desire to do the job, and will be good one day.  Will he have the chance to grow at FAMU?  We’ll find out later in the episode.

Kofi did an awesome job with the welcome announcement and did something we had yet to hear from any of the applicants.  He developed a well-timed crescendo with the welcome by slowly bringing the crowd up in anticipation of “FAMU Rattlers”.  He did get a little over-the-top while announcing the visiting team’s play.  His first down signature had a nice pause the second time, setting up the possibility of a nice call-and-response.  He did scream a little more into the microphone than we had hoped to hear and appeared somewhat similar with his deliveries.  Like the previous two applicants, he sounded more like he was reading the cold script rather than announcing it.  This will take practice.

The judges saw and felt the energy we did along with his cadence.  If we’re to pick one of the three, Kofi brought it and has done a great job throughout the process, he would be our choice.

What we noticed:

Each announcer got better with each round, which was to be expected.  However, the first two fell back a little on their backgrounds which could have hurt them a little in the judges ears.

When given a cold read, each of the three read it first.  This is very hard to avoid even for those who have been behind the microphone for a while.  A great way to get over this is to take a book, a magazine, a newspaper, a story off the Internet, or even THIS website and read something cold.  First, do a quick scan to identify the key words, then record yourself and listen as you speak.  Experiment by inflecting certain words to get it to sound good.  The key is inflection.  Go back and listen to yourself to get an idea of what you sounded like.  Now that you’ve read the sentence, read it again with the proper inflection.  Try this several times a day until you get the proper cadence down.  Car announcements are going to almost always be the same:

“Ladies and gentlemen there is a car with [state/DC/province] license plate [license plate number] who has [parked illegally, left their lights on, left their inside lights on, left their motor running, etc].  If you’re the owner or driver of this vehicle, please [move your vehicle, turn off your lights, etc] immediately.  Should you need assistance, call [phone number/proper contact].”  or

“If you’re the owner or driver of [make], [model] with [state/DC/province] license plate [license plate number], you have [parked illegally, left your lights on, left your inside lights on, left your motor running, etc].  Once again, there is a …”

Lost children:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have [name] up in the pressbox with us and is having a great time, however would have a better time if he/she could find his/her [family member].  If you’re looking for [name], please find the nearest police officer or stadium security to be escorted to the pressbox.”

Other common occurrences during sports events are lost items that have been found and turned in (mainly at the high school level), group bus is leaving, fan deflection (to direct fans to a different location), in addition to typical emergency situations such as objects thrown on the field, people entering the field or interfering with play, inclement weather announcements, stadium evacuation, and game postponement announcements.

Who will be making their Bragg Stadium debut on Saturday, September 24 when the Rattlers take on South Carolina State?  Well, watch the show below and find out!!!

It is Kofi Hemmingway!!  Congratulations Kofi and good luck this season.  You’re going to do great!


Jarrod Wronski

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