Michael Grady: The man behind the voice
By Sam Rogian
Most Central Indiana sports fans have seen and heard him, but know little about him.
Whether performing public-address duties at Indiana Pacers and Fever games, or talking sports on local ESPN-Radio affiliate 1070 the Fan, Michael Grady is a stylish, young fixture on the Indianapolis sports scene.
Grady, who just wrapped up his first full season on P.A. for the Pacers, is just 28-years old and hails from the east side of Indianapolis. He is a 2001 Warren Central High School graduate, who grew up a local sports enthusiast.
Grady was fanatic about all Indiana sports—whether it was IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, or the Indianapolis Colts. But his fanaticism peaked with basketball.
Raised by his mother in a single-parent home along with his sister, Grady said some of his best childhood memories revolve around the Pacers.
“My memories growing up include Reggie (Miller) and his great moments,” he said. “That’s kind of where it started.”
After watching Pacers games on television as a kid, Grady wasted little time replicating Miller’s moves on the local court.
“If the Pacers lost a game or won a game, I couldn’t wait to get to the basketball court to let my frustration out… or just go out there and have fun,” he said.
Grady learned a valuable lesson during the notorious 1995 playoff game against the New York Knicks when Miller scored eight points in the final 11 seconds to steal the victory.
“You never turn your television off if a game looks like it’s getting out of hand,” Grady said. “I remember Anthony Mason hit a big shot-- it was a 3-point play.
“I was so disgusted, I turned the television off.”
Living in an apartment complex at the time, Grady knew something was going on when he heard stomping and yelling from the apartment upstairs.
“I turned the television back on; Reggie Miller’s heading to the line,” Grady said. “It’s a tied ballgame and he’s shooting free throws to… give the Pacers the lead, which of course he did.
“And that was the most ridiculous I ever felt in my life about turning the television off.”
New passion discovered
Grady attributes much of who he is to lessons learned while at Warren Central.
“Warren played a big part in molding the type of guy that I am today and my passion for radio, broadcasting and sports in general—failures and successes,” he said.
Hoping to take his game to the next level, Grady tried out for the varsity basketball team his sophomore year, but was cut.
“Tough to deal with that and I said, ‘You know, I’ve got to find something else to do,’” Grady said. “I was told about the radio program there at Warren (and) got involved my junior year. “
A visit to a Vincennes University helped direct Grady’s future path. While at a broadcast workshop there, Grady said he fell in love with the school.
“I was at Vincennes two years, had a good time and learned quite a bit,” he said.
Grady doing work
Grady sent his resume out all over the state and landed a job with Emmis Communications in Indianapolis. He started out producing two shows during a three-hour shift each Saturday, including one featuring a veterinarian with pet tips.
Though that first position netted just six hours per paycheck, Grady developed a new skill set.
“I’ll tell you what, I learned a lot,” he said. “And now if somebody has a dog and it needs trained, I did that show so long, I can train your dog and get them set.”
Grady had no idea at the time that WIBC would launch 1070 the Fan and appoint him executive producer.
That role resulted in his own daily radio show with partner Joe Staysniak in February of this year.
Staysniak said he welcomed the addition of Grady and enjoys working with him.
“Michael is a passionate sports fan and more so about basketball than anything else.” Staysniak said. “He’s a hard worker. I appreciate it very much. He likes to have fun, which is imperative in our job.
“Everybody loves Michael; everybody respects him, and I think it all works well.”
The Pacers come calling
Grady began moonlighting with the Pacers in 2008 as the emcee for home games. He traded his smooth persona to become the loudest cheerleader at Conseco Fieldhouse.
“If you meet me on a day-to-day basis, I’m not that much of an in-your-face, hoot-and-holler kind of guy,” Grady said. “But, there’s something about being there at Conseco Fieldhouse that brought it out. I had my own approach to it.”
In the summer of 2009, Grady debuted on P.A. for the Indiana Fever. He continued on as the emcee for Pacers games that fall, and began filling in for long-time Pacers P.A. announcer Reb Porter.
His experience behind the mic at Conseco landed Grady the Pacers P.A. gig when Porter retired at season’s end.
“I’m very grateful for that opportunity,” Grady said. “I never envisioned myself being a P.A. guy, but I have a lot of fun with it.
“It’s a joy to able to have a pretty good seat and see some of the best athletes in the world.”
Grady said having such a crucial role with the Pacers is a dream come true.
“I’m glad that I’m 28-years old and have a job that only 29 other guys have,” he said.
Grady learned early on that a strong working knowledge of the rules is a vital part of P.A. work.
“Not everybody knows this—(NBA P.A. announcers) have to say ‘two minutes,’” Grady explained. “That wasn’t something (that) Reb Porter said, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to let everyone know when there’s two minutes left in each quarter.’
“No, that’s mandated by the NBA.”
During his first game filling in for Porter, the referees gently reminded Grady about the rule after he missed a two-minute call.
“I got chewed out by one of the officials telling me that I need to make sure I say ‘two minutes,’” he said. “I thought that was just a fun thing that Reb did.”
Despite the initial snafu, Grady is revered for his work with the Pacers.
Eddie White worked with Grady while hosting a show on 1070 the Fan and now works for the Pacers. White said Grady was a great teammate on the radio and feels he is doing good things for the Pacers.
“The players like him,” White said. “The players around the league that come-- the visiting teams-- they like his shtick.
“He does a great job.”
Stylin’ and profilin’
The one thing that rivals Grady’s passion for sports is his passion for fashion.
“(Grady) knows how to take a t-shirt and a corduroy blazer and jeans and black loafers, and make it look cool, where I screw up a tuxedo,” White said. “He just has a style. He’s suave.
“He can dress that part.”
Grady said he didn’t develop his style accidentally.
“Someone told me a long time ago, ‘You dress for where you’re trying to go,’” Grady said. “So, if you want to be at the top, regardless of the company, wherever it may be, you should dress the part. I always took that to heart.”
Grady is also notorious for his collection of GQ magazines, which is on display in his office at Emmis.
Their trip went better than expected, and therefore Grady considered GQ good luck.
“So, maybe its being superstitious or not, but since September 2007, I bought every American GQ, and I’ve bought every British GQ,” he said. “I get sartorial advice from the magazine, but mostly it’s a superstitious thing from the first GQ I ever bought, which worked out as far as my proposal was concerned to Deandra.”
The couple has since married and Grady beamed while describing his wife.
“She’s a huge sports fan; a bigger Pacers fan than I am,” Grady said. “She hoots, hollers, screams as much as I want to when I’m on the sidelines.
“She loves the game and we enjoy debating about basketball in general quite a bit.”
Words of wisdom
Being so young and successful, Grady said his secret was learning not to say “no.”
“That’s one of the biggest things,” he said. “When you get an opportunity and they say, ‘Hey, we need you to do this shift. Hey, we need you to do this. We need you to do that.’ There’s some kids who say, ‘No. No, thank you.’
“I could have said no, but I said yes and it really worked out for me.”
That success has propelled Grady to be a rising, hometown star that isn’t ready to quit. He has his sites set on bigger stages one day.
“The NBA is really my passion,” Grady said. “So, if I had the opportunity to work for… NBA TV or TNT in some capacity while still maintaining my responsibilities in the city (that) I love, then I would do it in a heartbeat.”