While the Cowboys cut familiar faces in an attempt to reshape their team on the field, the organization has also decided to give its stadium an audio makeover.
Out as Cowboys Stadium public address announcer is Jody Dean, to be replaced by local award-winning sports reporter Roger Emrich. And for the first time in the franchise's 51-year history it will have an in-game MC, in the form of 27-year-old Armen Williams.
Both Emrich and Williams work for 105.3 The Fan, the Cowboys' flagship station (and the radio station where I also work).
Citing heart problems and a desire to spend more time with his 6-year-old daughter, Dean, the P.A. voice in Cowboys Stadium's first two seasons, had recently expressed a desire to retire.
"This is perfect," said Dean Tuesday afternoon. "I get to step out of the booth, and I turn it over to one of the most deserving and likable people in this business."
Emrich, who turns 55 today, got his start in the newspaper business, writing for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and in the U.S. Armed Forces in Crete, Greece. He graduated from Loyola, New Orleans and worked at KDNT in Denton and the Texas State Network in Austin before joining KRLD 1080 AM in '93.
In the footsteps of Murphy Martin, George Dunham and Dean, Emrich plans to bring a straightforward but enthusiastic style to his nuts-'n-bolts descriptions.
"Not too much ad-libbing, lots of outright professionalism," Emrich said Tuesday night. "I want to be informing, not a distraction. I'm going to treat this like my dream job. I'm still worried Jody is going to change his mind, so I'm anxious to get started."
Emrich, whose booming, baritone sportscasts on KRLD and The Fan have been named best in Texas the last two years, will call the Cowboys' first pre-season game Aug. 11 against the Denver Broncos. He also, for what it's worth, likes Rush, eats late-night meals at Denny's and answers his cell phone, "Sports."
"Only," he jokes, "if I don't recognize the number calling me."
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In another innovative, unprecedented move, the Cowboys are hiring Williams as a roving, on-field, in-stands, game-day emcee along the lines of what Chris Arnold does for the Mavericks inside American Airlines Center.
During timeouts or end-of-quarter breaks, Williams will appear on the stadium's JumboJerry video screen, interviewing fans, spotting celebrities or hawking one of owner Jerry Jones' numerous sponsors. The goal is to liven up the mood and inject more fan interaction into an in-house atmosphere that at times last year felt stale despite the wondrous stadium.
"I'm giddy," said Williams, a face-painting fan at Texas Tech, the Frisco Rough Riders' on-field host the last two seasons and producer of The Fan's 2-7 afternoon drive show. "This is beyond my wildest dreams. As a kid on Sundays I'd take my dad's car keys and sneak out of church to hear the noon kickoff of Cowboys games. To be a part of my favorite team's game-day presentation is an unbelievable honor."
The Cowboys may not play differently at home in 2011, but with these two new hires and fresh voices at Cowboys Stadium at least they'll sound better.