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  • Great track PA announcers

    I was wondering if anybody would be good enough to reflect on some track PA announcers you've heard.

    Some who stand out to me. Frank Zarnowski (sp) is just incredible. I went down to Georgia Tech to see Stephen Harris try to qualify for the NCAAs a few years ago. Frank was just strolling around the infield basically ad-libbing the whole thing with a remote mike, occasionally referring to his notes! But he was so good and smooth and prepared that it seemed like he was reading a prepared script! Wow! When Harris made his final attempt in the pole vault (his weakest event), Frank said, "And Stephen Harris gives it the ole college try!" Frank was totally aware of the situation (Tennessee needed Harris to have a chance to win NCAAs and everything was riding on this one vault) and he got off a classic remark that everybody present enjoyed. As I understand, Frank specializes in multi-event events.

    At the Olympics here in Atlanta, Bob Hersh and I believe a certain editor of a certain track magazine were behind the mike if I'm not mistaken. Also at the Oly trials? It was a great job by them at an electric meet. I'm thinking that Bob also did the NCAAs in Knoxville, but I can't remember.

    If I may yet again drop in a reference to my own school, Dr. Buck Jones at Tennessee (former PA man at Tom Black Track) was incredible. He made the races and events seem like the Olympics, with beautiful introductions and knowledgeable commentary. I hated that he hung up the mike, even though he is still around the program.

    http://web.utk.edu/~sals/staff/Jones.html

    Who are some other great PA announcers that have helped make our sport so great?

  • #2
    Re: Great track PA announcers

    I did the USATF meet in Knoxville last time they were there, not the NCAA meet.

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    • #3
      Re: Great track PA announcers

      >At the Olympics here in Atlanta, Bob Hersh and I believe a certain editor of a certain track magazine were behind the mike if I'm not mistaken. Also at the Oly trials?<

      Yes, gh and I did Atlanta. We'll also be doing the Athens Games this summer, but English will be the second language, after Greek, so it won't be quite the same.

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      • #4
        Re: Great track PA announcers

        There are those, of course, who think we're speaking Greek at the best of times.

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        • #5
          Re: Great track PA announcers

          First-time poster, long-time lurker.

          Down here in the Southwest, J. Fred Duckett is a well-known announcer. He had one of the all-time classic lines at an old Southwest Conference indoor championship one year. There was a false start and as the recall pistols were going off all over the place, J. Fred gets on the P.A. and declares, "Sounds like Houston on a Saturday night." Broke up the place.

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          • #6
            Re: Great track PA announcers

            Bob and Garry, it seemed like you two worked seamlessly together at the Olympics. It got to the point where I could almost guess when Bob would speak and when Garry would speak. Was this planned on your part or was it more like "I'm going to the bathroom; take over for me"? ;-) Seriously, whatever your system is appears to be a good one.

            Man, that it is one tough assignment doing PA at the Olympics in Athens. ;-)

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            • #7
              Re: Great track PA announcers

              Bob Sparks was a wonderful announcer. He and the comish did the English portion of the first two WCs. Maybe more, I wasn't at Tokyo and I can't remember if he did Stuttgart. Excellent calls of races and a droll wit. He was also an excellent statisticsian (sp). If not a founder, certainly a giant of ATFS. I believe he died a bit ago.

              Out west, Scott Davis is getting better and better. Lots of information and enthusiasm.

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              • #8
                Re: Great track PA announcers

                >Bob Sparks was a wonderful announcer. He and the comish did the English portion of the first two WCs.<

                Actually, I believe Bob Sparks was the sole English announcer at the first two WC's (Helsinki and Rome). I've done all seven since then--three of them with Sparks: III (Tokyo), V (Gothenburg), and VI (Athens). I did IV (Stuttgart) solo, VII (Seville) with Scott Davis, and the last two (Edmonton and Paris) with Garry Hill.

                I also worked with Bob S at the 1989 European Cup final (Gateshead) and the 1998 World Cup (Johannesburg). I very much enjoyed working with Bob--I learned a lot from him just by being in the same booth and watching how he prepared and how he announced. I was very saddened by his illness and his premature death. I was honoured to be an announcing colleague of his, and I miss him.

                Bob H

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                • #9
                  Re: Great track PA announcers

                  I think in Helsinki they used local language students: I seem to recall the English announcing being grammatically correct but lacking in any nuance (or track knowledge).

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                  • #10
                    Re: Great track PA announcers

                    Bob, I could have sworn I saw you and Bob Sparks walking together toward the stadium in Rome. My memory isn't what is used to be. Probably never was. Of course, walking toward the stadium and announcing together are not the same thing. I was at Gateshead in '89 too. Did you or Bob S do the English at Barcelona? In all except Gateshead, English has been a 2nd language.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Great track PA announcers

                      >I think in Helsinki they used local language students:<

                      Now that you mention it, you are absolutely correct. I had forgotten that.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Great track PA announcers

                        >Bob, I could have sworn I saw you and Bob Sparks walking together toward the stadium in Rome. My memory isn't what is used to be.<

                        Who's is? I have no recollection of walking toward the stadium with Bob Sparks in Rome, but it's not the sort of thing that I'd have any reason to recall.


                        >Did you or Bob S do the English at Barcelona?<

                        We both did.


                        >In all except Gateshead, English has been a 2nd language.<

                        I think it was actually third language in Helsinki (after Finnish and Swedish) and Barcelona (after Spanish and Catalan). Among international meets, I've announced English as first language at the LA and Atlanta Olympics, the Edmonton World Championships, the Johannesburg and London World Cups (you can add the latter to the list of meets I worked with Bob Sparks) and--interestingly enough--the Lisbon World Junior Championships where the locals preferred that I take the lead.

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