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Voicing their interest in Lock Monsters P.A. job

Friday, August 14, 1998

By MIKE DAVIDSON Sun Staff

LOWELL Cmon. Admit it. Youve done it. Standing in the shower or combing your hair in front of the mirror. Youve closed your eyes and dreamed what it would be like to have your voice amplified to thousands of screaming sports fans.

You do your best imitation of the late Sherm Feller, sl-o-o-w-wly drawling out the name, number and position of each player in the starting lineup at Fenway Park.

Now batting ... the first baseman ... number 42 ... Mo Vaughn ... first base ... Vaughn.

Or you take that deep breath and belt out, in as deep a voice as possible, the now-famous one-liner to start any ballgame, anywhere in the country, L-L-L-e-e-e-ts get ready to rum-m-m-m-b-b-b-l-l-le.

Public-address announcers have one job at the sports arena: Provide paying fans with all the information they need to have an enjoyable experience.

Some announcers just show up for work and get the job done, but others make a point to give the fans a little something extra. The really good ones are hard to forget and, in some cases, become instant celebrities.

They are paid to make mass communication an art form.

Michael Buffer, the Lets get ready to rumble guy of the boxing ring, has made a career of belting out that one famous one. He has parlayed it into appearances at other sporting events and pro wrestling matches and even into movie appearances.

A deep voice, one line, and a star is born.

The Lowell Lock Monsters, the American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Islanders that begins play at the Paul E. Tsongas Arena in October, are in the process of finding their own star. The team has been conducting open tryouts for a public-address announcer all week to find their own voice for the 40 regular-season Lock Monsters home games.

Tryouts were open to anyone, and the Lock Monsters were overwhelmed by the response. Nearly 50 people, ranging from high-school to retirement age, gave it their best shot.

We expected to get like 15, maybe 20, said Randy Sieminski, the director of public relations for the Lock Monsters. But weve had about 50 people, and every one of them has taken it seriously. Their hearts have all been in it.

And weve heard the entire spectrum, Sieminski added. Everything from someone with years of experience in radio to someone who has never been in front of a microphone before. Some people realize its a long shot for them, but they just wanted to come and live out a dream.

Rick Callahan of Dracut, 24, lived out his dream last night.

A telecommunications engineer by day, Callahan is a big sports and hockey fan but had never had his voice amplified by microphone his entire life until reading a prepared script on the floor of a mostly empty Tsongas Arena.

Ive been trying out some fake announcements on people at work all week, said Callahan. Ive been getting ribbed about it, but I thought Id give it a try. Ive always wondered how people get jobs like these.

There are, of course, two distinct approaches to a seemingly one-dimensional job.

In Chicago, Bulls fans are greeted by the familiar, yet flamboyant, high-pitched sounds of Ray Clay, who puts a little mustard on it each time he introduces, Your World Champion ... Chicago-o-o-o Bul-l-l-ls.

The antithesis of Clay, of course, could be heard for decades at Fenway Park in Boston, where fans enjoyed the relaxed, monotone voice of Feller, who created his own legend by simply stating the facts. No fanfare, no pizzazz.

The Lock Monsters, Sieminski said, are leaning toward someone with a little mustard.

Were looking for someone who is lively, knowledgeable and able to keep the crowd entertained for an entire game, Sieminski said. We need our fans to leave the game feeling like they were entertained for the entire game, even if we lose 5-1.

Each of the 50 candidates simply filled out an application on the spot and read the prepared script for an audition.

Sieminski and Briana Beauchesne, a Lock Monsters community-relations staff member, listened to each candidate and will now begin the arduous task of paring the list to five finalists, who will be called back for a second audition.

Its going to be a tough decision, Beauchesne said. Everyone sounded pretty good. Of course, some really jumped out at us and really knew what they were doing and had perfect voices for the job.

The majority of the candidates are from the Lowell area, Beauchesne said, with a few from as far south as Quincy and as far north as southern and central New Hampshire.

Ive always been fascinated how sound and music can come together and fire up a crowd at a sporting event, said Harry Kozlowski, 39, a radio disc jockey for WNHQ in Hooksett, N.H., who has experience as the PA announcer for the New Hampshire Thunderloons basketball team of the United States Basketball League.

Ive always wanted to do something like this. And plus, Im a huge hockey fan. It would be a great way to see the games for free.