Sept. 18, 2008
From 1985 until 2007, Husky football fans grew accustomed to hearing the voice of public address announcer Lou Gellermann booming down from the sky at Husky Stadium. Eric Radovich stepped in for several games last year and is now the full-time public address announcer at Husky Stadium. Radovich, known by his nickname "Rags" in his sports circle, is not a completely new face and voice for Husky fans though. He served as the PA announcer for UW women's basketball for almost 20 years and has manned the microphone at Bank Of America Arena for men's hoops since 1995. Besides his gigs at Washington, Radovich serves as the replacement PA announcer for Seattle Mariners baseball and as the official scorer in the Safeco Field press box. When he is not dabbling in sports, Radovich is the president of BlueStar Management, a real estate development firm. Radovich recently sat down with Huskies Gameday Magazine to introduce himself to fans.
Huskies Gameday: Is there any added pressure on you since you're replacing a beloved figure like Lou Gellermann?
Radovich: "It's big shoes to fill. I mean Lou isn't just the voice of Husky Stadium for the past 20 years, he's a Husky legend. I've had an opportunity to talk to Lou a couple of times, and he was very gracious and helpful. It's truly a privilege to follow first Wendell Broyles and now Lou Gellermann, who have been in that booth since 1950. I'm only the third voice of Husky Stadium for as far back as most people can remember. I hope some day I'll be as revered as Wendell and Lou. I know that is going to take some time. I'm hoping that over the years I can build that kind of admiration. Until then, I'll have a lot of help from my spotters Matt Massart and Bob Sifferman and we'll try to bring excitement and accuracy to every game at Husky Stadium."
Huskies Gameday: What is the thought process on deciding to come up with your own catch phrase right before the Huskies come out of the tunnel before kickoff?
Radovich: "Lou and I agreed that `Hello Dawg fans' is his. The marketing department and I have come up with a new greeting to the fans of Husky stadium. It is 'Good afternoon Husky fans, welcome to Husky Stadium, HOME OF THE DAWGS'. That's the indicator for fans that it's time to get in your seats, we're getting ready to hit some people."
Huskies Gameday: What are your earliest memories of Husky athletics?
Radovich: "I grew up in Greenlake-Wallingford area and my first experience of Husky football was 1971. I was just about 10 years old. Sonny Sixkiller was the quarterback and I remember a receiver named Tom Scott. Scott must have had a big game because that's what I remember. Sixkiller appeared on Sports Illustrated and Scott was a receiver that caught a number of balls. I just remember blankets, it was chilly, but a perfect fall Saturday afternoon for football and I was hooked. I went with somebody else's family to that game, and then I wanted to go all the time. Friends and I would occasionally walk down and just look for people with extra tickets; we didn't have the money to buy tickets. We'd find extra tickets or sell newspapers or do whatever it took to find our way into the game. We didn't go to every game, but we went to a number of games over those years."
Huskies Gameday: When did you first realize you wanted to be the Husky football PA announcer?
Radovich: "You know, I don't think I ever thought I was going to be the announcer at the stadium. I always thought it was really cool. I remember Wendell Broyles before Lou Gellermann. I thought both were great. I always thought I was going to be a baseball player, but then I found out I couldn't hit a curveball. I still realized I needed to be in sports at some level. I chased a career in Sports Broadcasting but felt I had other talents in public relations and marketing and I became a public address announcer kind of as a moonlighting job to stay connected with sports."
Huskies Gameday: What was your first sports PA job?
Radovich: "My first public address announcer job was at Shorecrest High School. I was a high school student, not good enough to play on a pretty good basketball team, I was the courtside announcer during my junior and senior years. After that, I went to Shoreline Community College to play baseball and they just happened to need a public address announcer. There was on a little card in a bulleting board advertising the job of PA announcer for Shoreline basketball, so I did that and got paid a little bit while I was going to school and playing baseball there. From there I went to a broadcasting school and got just a random assortment of jobs. I was a radio DJ, I did all kinds of play-by-play on closed circuit television, you know before we had all these cable channels. We did bowling, hockey, soccer, car racing -- kind of an eclectic mix of stuff on closed circuit or public access. You would buy time on public access, there was a whole mix of sports we did for this company.
I was trying to make a living off that, and really just getting the experience doing lots of games to develop a style and a pattern that people would enjoy. Along the way I continued to do public address announcing. As I graduated from the broadcasting school I had the opportunity to do SPU women's basketball in 1986. I think they had about 15 fans, but I had a microphone and Royal Brougham Pavilion. From the women at SPU I graduated to do the men and women at SPU."
Huskies Gameday: How did you finally break into doing public address for Husky athletics?
Radovich: "My first big time break was doing Husky women's basketball at the UW when Chris Gobrecht was the coach. Their basketball was really exciting and they had a great fan base and there was a lot of energy in the building. That's when people started to recognize me as an announcer. There were probably 7,000 to 8,000 fans at most of those games. From there, I parlayed that into the men's basketball announcing job in 1995. Along the way, I did soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and baseball. So I did all of those at some point -- a handful of games a season as a public address announcer -- just building my resume."
Huskies Gameday: What has been your most memorable Husky gig to this point?
Radovich: "Probably my favorite job to this point, for the UW has been doing the play-by-play on radio of Husky baseball. That's where I saw myself -- as a Dave Niehaus wannabe. Baseball is the game I knew the most about and I always enjoyed filling in the gaps of what's going on in a baseball game, telling the story and painting the picture. I did that for nine seasons and I've got a myriad of highlights from that experience.
In 1994 we played in a regional tournament to try and get to the College World Series and we played against Georgia Tech in Wichita, Kansas. It was like a 100 degrees and probably hotter than that on the field. Georgia Tech had Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Veriteck, and Jay Payton on that team and we took them to a final game. We beat them in 14 innings forcing them to a final championship game. Little-used Brian Loucks hit a homerun in the bottom of the 14th to win that game. It's probably still one of my favorite calls ever."
Huskies Gameday: What are your favorite sports moments of events you attended?
Radovich: "Edgar's (Martinez) double in 1995. Michael Johnson hitting a basket from the corner against UCLA in his final game as a senior -- there was something about that moment, beating UCLA on senior day, with the crowd coming over the top of my head onto the floor when that game was over. That was certainly a highlight on the hoops side. And then the baseball stuff that I mentioned, I think that '94 postseason for Husky baseball following all those games in the heat in Wichita. Taking Georgia Tech right down to the wire for a chance at the College World Series was a phenomenal experience."
Huskies Gameday: Who are some of your favorite Husky players of all-time?
Radovich: "When you follow Husky football for 37 years, it's hard to pick. There has been so many great players. I've always admired the Husky quarterbacks. I think we've been blessed with some terrific arms and some guys that went on with terrific NFL careers. But I have to tell you that probably my favorite thing about Husky Football has been the defense. I was a big Jim Lambright fan. The Purple Reign defense -- it's hard to even single any guys out. It was a team defense. There weren't many individual stars. I'm a true believer in defense first and that defense wins championships, but what do I know, I'm just an announcer. Guys flying around popping people, it's violent, but that's part of the game that gets my juices flowing."