So, yeah, I was only kidding, far as you know, when I mentioned that, oh, maybe I'd try out for The Voice of The American Airlines Center. As you're no doubt aware by now, Mavs man "Humble" Billy Hayes has moved out of town to tend to personal business, and owner Mark Cuban's looking for a new man to take the mic (and take it hard). So, last week, I exchanged a few missives with Mavs PR man Matt Miller, said something about how it might be a good giggle for Unfair Park, and next thing I know Kirsten Seiter's got me on the list along with some other 50-plus wanna-bes who paraded through the AAC Tuesday afternoon to shout into a microphone for a panel of judges that occasionally included Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson, who tried out himself (though not really: "Is it pronounced Ba-rer-a?")
When I checked in at 4:45 p.m. for a 5:35 tryout slot, only 40 guys had taken their turn; more than a few chickened out, as about 80 had initially signed up. A few on the list were recognizable names: Michael Rey, KEGL's Chris Ryan, BaD Radio producer Tom Gribble. Ben Rogers, one half of Ben and Skin, showed up as I was leaving -- appropriate, since his former radio partner is one of the Mavs' TV talking heads. A few were guys who've dreamed of this their whole life -- lots of radio-station interns looking to make the step way up. I met one man who's done some high-school basketball PA announcing and who's wanted to do minor-league ball calling ever since he can remember. "I love the idea of watching a game and thinking out loud," he said.
He finished an hour before my slot, but stuck around to hear the competition -- most of whom sounded like a cross between Michael Buffer and Don Pardo, except for the guy who sounded more like Pee-Wee Herman and the handful who seemed to be auditioning for Lamb of God.
Everyone was given a script, but a few contestants ad-libbed for better or worse. Some dude introduced Dirk Nowitzki as the proud owner of the best hair in basketball. And one fellow prompted my dad to ask, "Does Dirk really go by the name 'The Blond Bomber'? Because I've never heard that." Everyone added "The Matrix" to Shawn Marion's name; several intro'd Jason Kidd as a "future Hall of Famer." For no reason other than it just came out of my mouth, I introduced No. 41 by asking whether fans sprechen ze Dirk. I know. Hilarious, right? (At least Donnie thought so, but he appreciates international humor.) Which is why I stuck to the script otherwise. A frigid, hockey-ready, otherwise empty AAC ain't exactly the Dr. Chuckles in Addison.
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The whole thing lasted all of 20 seconds, time enough to introduce a few players, make a random announcement about getting a drink at Hooters or Hard Rock after the game, and get the crowd rowdy, loud and proud.
I think I served up, oh, a good 20 seconds of FAIL: I read the script a little too quickly, stumbled over a word ("Hooters," as I recall ... so proud) and was way more NPR than WWE. And: My dad, who used to spot football games for Hillcrest High School radio broadcasts back in 1959 and '60, regrets not trying out. (I'd actually thought about bailing earlier in the day, but my dad insisted otherwise -- which is how he ended up coming with, to insist I put on my big-boy pants.) He's reminded me ever since Tuesday evening that he's much better at this than I.
"Not much better," says Big Hersch. "But better."
A few of the other contestants I heard were pretty good, especially for (mostly) inexperienced fans who'd come down because they'd heard about the casting call on the radio or received a Mavs tweet and thought, What the hell? Me, I'd hire George Dunham and call it a game. But maybe, come regular-season tipoff, some fortunate fan'll be behind the mic introducing ... from Germany ... No. 41 ... Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk ... Nooooooooowwwwwiiiiiiiiitzzzki!.