Career Corner: Herbie Kuhn
Posted Mar 26 2002 4:02PM
Ever wonder what it's like to work in the NBA? NBA.com/Canada's monthly Career Corner gives you the lowdown on the jobs of NBA personalities. This month, Herbie Kuhn speaks about his role as the Toronto Raptors' public address announcer.
Herbie summarizes his job as the Raptors' public address announcer:
My role is to relay to the fans in the seats in a professional, entertaining manner what is going on in the court. This is my seventh season with Raptors; I have done around 300 NBA games.
I graduated from Vanier College in 1994. I was a Torontonian living in Montreal, thinking, I am announcing basketball now and getting good feedback, and now there is going to be a team in my hometown. (The NBA board of governors awarded an NBA franchise to Toronto in November 1993.) So I put two and two together. They were going to need an announcer and I was available, so why not go and try out!
My big break took place when I was accepted to announce the world championships, which were (in Toronto) in 1994. They gave me about 16 games in total to announce. The guy who hired me to announce the world championships, Brian Cooper, ended up being the same person who was to hire the Raptors' in-house announcer. Once I found that out, I would inform Brian where I would be announcing games, and get him to come and check me out. I guess my persistence paid off, as now, seven years later, here I am!
Herbie explains what happens during a typical game day:
I would show up two hours before game time, and the first thing I would do is go to the media room and get the game notes with the rosters, the numbers and the probable starters. Then I head to my seat courtside, and I write out one full sheet for introductions, write out another sheet for each of the complete rosters, along with space for quarter-by-quarter scores, space for delay of game warnings or violations, space for personal fouls and team fouls. These are items I have to keep track of.
One of my unofficial Raptors responsibilities, but one of my official responsibilities from a life perspective, is I am one of the co-chaplains for the team. Every single home game, about one hour before game time, we have a pregame chapel service.
Then we head to the court and I have first official read, then I do a couple of reads for the Raptors Dance Pak, The Raptor and the Ford Super Crew. I do a wide variety of reads leading up to the introductions. For each game, there is usually a 35-page script I go through, which has P.A. announcements, sponsor spots, community announcements etc. The introductions begin and that leads up to the tip off for the game.
After introductions, Vince Carter always comes by and "bumps fists" with me, and I always say, "Vince, have fun out there." I don't think we have started a single game since he has been here at home without doing this action.
Herbie shares his most memorable moments on the job:
The first time we beat the Chicago Bulls in our first year was definitely a highlight. Yet, the all-time greatest highlights were the two Friday night games last year against Philadelphia in the playoffs. I remember hearing fans cheering "Let's Go Raptors" way before the games had begun and way after the games had finished. At that point I knew the Raptors were a Toronto team, and we made that step into the public consciousness.
My all-time basketball highlight was not a Raptors game. 1995, at McMaster University, our Women's national team was playing Cuba, a traditional powerhouse, trying to clinch a berth for the Atlanta Olympics. It was unexpected and we won, knocking off Cuba to clinch an Olympic berth, and I was announcing the game. Being a patriotic Canadian, I was very proud to see them achieve such a feat.
Herbie's advice for aspiring public address announcers:
First, obtain a solid education, focus on English classes, learn other languages, and understand the basis of linguistics. A solid grasp of the English language is key as well, so reading definitely helps. I highly recommend volunteering, getting your voice out there and noticed.
Another key component is never doubt your dreams and your abilities. (Former Raptors player) Doug Christie used to say, "Shoot for the moon, and if you miss you'll still be amongst the stars."
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