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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

As with athletes, practice makes perfect for Aggie sports announcer

By Paul Kelley

November 25, 2008 | Rob Flygare is sitting in the chair where he will spend the next three hours. It is 30 minutes to game time. He is reviewing an endless list of names and numbers. The names run through his head "Number 73, Kenny Avon; number 2, Seyi Ajirotutu." Flygare checks the depth chart, which is a list of players and the probability of each one of them playing, he realizes Seyi is a starter, and will probably catch some passes. "That's a hard one I better ask someone how to say that one," Flygare thinks.

Rob is the public announcer for Utah State basketball and football. He is more than just the public announcer; he is the voice of the Aggies.

Rob leaves his chair to find the sports information director from Fresno State, who will help him pronounce the hard-to-say names on their team. Rob started preparing Tuesday for this Saturday's football game against Fresno State. "If you're playing a BYU, or a Utah, or now this week Hawaii, those names are pretty hard. You got the Polynesian connection there with all three of those teams," says Flygare.

One time when he was PA announcing for a Mountain Crest high school game, they were playing Timpview High School, which has a lot of Polynesians on the team. Rob was not pronouncing one of the player's names right, and the mother of the player came up to the press box and said, "Excuse me you are calling my son a dirty pig."

"Oh sorry, I apologize, I didn't mean to, how do you say it?" Rob replied to the mother.

"High school can be really hard sometimes, unless you get down and talk to the coaches, which I should have done, and I regret that I didn't do that you need to be prepared."

It is 20 minutes until game time and Rob feels like he is prepared to pronounce the names, Rob moves on to the three-fourths-of-an-inch thick booklet, full of advertisements, Rob will read throughout the game. "Its fairly extensive, there is a lot to read in each game," says Flygare.

Each game he is given a new booklet of advertisements he will read throughout the game he has about ten minutes to familiarize himself with the book. Utah State wants to make money, and they sell these adds on a marketing. "That's the way it was contracted, and I have to read it pretty much the way it is written," says Flygare.

Growing up in Salt Lake City and attending Olympus High School, Rob developed a love for sports. He excelled in football, baseball and golf. That love for sports directed him to a career in sports broadcasting. He grew up watching sports and dreaming of the day when he would be the one in front of the camera, telling the story.

Rob remembers some of his role models growing up, "I've just always loved sports, it was my life, and I watched a lot of broadcasters, I have some heroes, a guy that was in Salt Lake named Bill Howard, who has passed away since. I loved his style, and he was such a friendly, warm, very bright guy."

While in college at the University of Utah, Rob had the opportunity to intern with Jim Nantz, a world-renowned sports broadcaster. "When I was getting into broadcasting I really liked Jim a lot," said Rob, "very professional guy, and he taught me a lot about the business."

Even though rob has mostly worked in broadcasting, he graduated with a degree in speech communication. He owes his talented broadcasting style of today to those speech classes. "I took speech classes, enunciation classes," said Rob. I didn't know exactly at that point what I was going to do with that, but I am glad I had them, I really learned the trade in college; I learned downward inflection at the end of the sentence, upward inflection at certain times."

Providences is where Rob has lived for the last 14 years with his wife, Pam, and their two sons Matt and Todd. Todd says the best thing about having a broadcaster for a dad is, "I got as much free food as I wanted."

Ten minutes after reviewing the marketing ad's Rob is ready to start reading the scripts. The university is very strict about how the ads are read, and Rob has little or no choice about his interpretation on the way he reads them. He is about to start reading, the official score keeper, sitting next to him hands him the starting line-up for the game. He quickly glances over the names, making sure they are all familiar, and then starts reading.

As he reads, his voice is deep and rough, but at the same time smooth and flowing. He flawlessly reads through script after script, upward inflection here, downward inflection there, emphasizing the pronunciation on each business name. He continues reading with ease as fans flow into the stadium, getting ready for the pandemonium that is Aggie football.

Rob says, "Most of them at this point I have read over and over. I don't need to look at them, but I do look at each one of them, because sometimes there will be a typo." In his ninth year as public announcer for the Aggies the pre-game scripts are easy to read now.

The half-time shows are a different story for Flygare; they are crazy and sometimes not well prepared. He tells about a game during his years on the job when a local dance company called Lashars was performing for halftime.

Seconds before the start of the performance Rob was handed the hand-written script for the introduction of the dance team. In his booming PA voice, he says, "Now, ladies and gentleman, please welcome Lashars rimes with stars Dance Company." They had written "rimes with stars" so he would know how to pronounce the name. "I wasn't supposed to say that, I was mortified," recalls Flygare. Remembering experiences like that makes Rob laugh; this is the fun part of his job.

Growing up in Salt Lake City, Rob was raised a die-hard University of Utah fan. He even had offers to play football for Utah. Was it hard for Rob to come to his school's bitter rivals? "I have really really self adopted the Aggies, I love the Aggies, and when they play Utah I root for the Aggies, and I never thought I would say that, because I grew up as such an avid Ute fan, that I didn't think anything would ever change that; It's really in my blood, I really love the Aggies."

It is five minutes until game time; the Aggies are about to play their last home game of the season. It is also Jaycee Carroll's last home game as an Aggie. Jaycee Carroll recently broke the school record for total points. Over the last four years Rob has become good friends with a lot of athletes. "You get to know the basketball players a lot better than the football players," says Rob. "Because you're down there on the court. You see them, they see you."

He reviews the starting line ups for each team. The music starts and the Aggie mascot Big Blue repels from the ceiling. The slow clap is started by the students and grows into a loud roar, as Rob screams, "And now for your Utah State Aggies." The crowd goes wild as Rob announces each player. He comes to Jaycee Carroll's name and pauses briefly, then screams, " Playing guard from Evanston, Wyoming, Jaayyceee Carrolooll."

Rob remembers that night, it was a pretty hard night, Carroll was a really good friend, "I love Jaycee." Despite his emotion he flows right into the game and flawlessly announces the game for the spectrum. Corinne Smith, a broadcast journalism major at Utah State has been going to Aggie games for two years now, and she has grown used to Rob Flygare as the voice of the Aggies. "The inspirational tones of his voice makes me feel at home in the Spectrum," says Smith.

Rob plans to be the voice of the Aggies for many years to come. "I hope they will continue to let me do it, I mean I am not that old," says Rob. At $50 a game, Rob does not regard the public announcer position as a job, but more of a service to the university that he loves. "I love the Aggies, I have lived and died with the Aggies."

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Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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