- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

One by one, 22 candidates for the Washington Nationals’ public-address announcer job stepped to the microphone, dreaming of becoming the next Bob Sheppard or Rex Barney. With each audition lasting less than five minutes, the chance to stand out was minimal and the margin for error nonexistent.

“Good afternoon, fans, and welcome to RFK Stadium, the home of your Washington Nationals,” boomed one applicant after another, showing off their vocal skills on several pieces of prepared copy and mock lineups. “Thank you for joining us on this historic occasion.”

Historic indeed. The Nationals are offering their choice as PA announcer only part-time employment, a schedule filled with night and weekend work and not enough pay to live on by itself. But the finalists for the job came from as far as San Francisco, seeking to play a prominent spot in the rebirth of baseball in Washington.

“This is an amazing opportunity. How do you not want to be part of this?” said Steve Boland of Manhattan. A community organizer for New York Road Runners by day, Boland moonlights as the PA announcer for the minor league Newark Bears and St. Peter’s College basketball. “We’ll definitely move to do this, find other things to do [for work] to make this happen. No question.”

The candidates for the job boast a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from radio and voice-over work to minor league baseball PA announcer roles up and down the East Coast. A few familiar names dot the list of applicants. Local attorney Phil Hochberg spent nearly 40 years in a variety of announcer roles for the Washington Redskins and Senators. Sherry Davis, one of two female finalists for the Nationals job, made history in 1993 as the first female PA announcer for a major league baseball team when she was hired by the San Francisco Giants.

The Nationals intend to name a primary announcer and at least one back-up by Monday. No matter who gets the job, he or she will be trying to fill the long shadow of Charlie Brotman, the Senators’ former PA announcer and promotions director. Brotman, now a local public-relations executive and still close to the baseball effort, is one of six people on the team who will choose the announcer, joining three Nationals employees and two personalities from Z104-FM, one of the team’s radio flagship stations.

“They’ve all got good pipes, but this isn’t just about the voice,” said Brotman, who will reprise his PA announcer role for the Nationals’ April 3 exhibition game and April 14 home opener. “It’s also about presentation, personality, being able to convey information. Anybody can sound authoritative, but can you also entertain and put a smile on someone’s face?”

Nerves and tension were evident for many auditioning, with several tripping up on names of Nationals players or awkwardly ad-libbing announcements of rain delays and ballpark security rules.

Nationals executives declined to specify the exact pay for the job, but big league PA announcer jobs typically do not exceed $200 to $300 a game. Brotman will receive $150 a game for his short stint back behind the mike.

The auditions were held at Prince George’s Stadium in Bowie because work is still being done on the press box area at RFK.

“We’ve got a lot to choose from. I think we were all quite impressed with the overall quality of what we saw today,” said Josh Golden, Nationals director of entertainment and events.

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