Interview conducted by David Saltzer - AngelsWin.com Senior Columnist
Since 1994, the fans at Angel Stadium have heard the voice of David Courtney announcing the players, the lineups and promotions throughout each game. He has become a familiar voice to fans who attend regularly and a welcoming voice for fans experiencing a live Angels game for the first time. He is the first and last sound heard over the PA system for all games. Additionally, David works as the PA Announcer for the L.A. Kings and can be heard Monday through Friday on KNX (1070 AM) and KOLA (99.9 FM) radio doing traffic and news. For fans eagerly awaiting the first game of the season, here is a look into the man behind the voice of the stadium.
AngelsWin.com: How did you get the job?
David Courtney: I got the job when I was the PA announcer for the Kings at the time. I started doing the games for the Kings a couple of years earlier and a couple of the executives for the Angels heard me doing the games as they were hockey fans and asked if I would be interested in coming in as the backup announcer for the regular gentleman at the time who was named Dennis Packer. I did the backup games—about 13 or 14 games a season for 4 seasons—and then the team invited me on as the full-time announcer in 1994. And, I’ve been the regular announcer at the stadium ever since.
AngelsWin.com: What teams did you follow growing up? What stadiums did you go to?
David Courtney: Obviously growing up in Southern California with both the Dodgers and the Angels. I lived in West L.A. growing up for most of my teen years. But, for some reason, I was more of an Angels fan than a Dodgers fan which turned out to be kind of ironic. I didn’t have proximity to the Angels, so coming down to the games was a challenge. But, what happened was that I started working in broadcasting, apprenticing at KMPC in my early years. Of course they were the Angels’ flagship radio station for so long because Mr. Autry owned both the radio station and the team. So, obviously I knew a great deal about them and heard the games all the time and enjoyed listening to Dick Enberg and Don Drysdale do the games and also Bob Starr. So, they were more familiar to me and kind of became my team de facto even though I didn’t get to attend as many games as I’d like.
AngelsWin.com: Do you model yourself after anyone?
David Courtney: I don’t think so. I think at first I tried to not emulate but carry on from John Ramsey who was my mentor. John of course was the announcer for most of all the sporting teams in the area when I was growing up. He was able to—because of the schedules not overlapping in those days—he was able to be the announcer for both the Angels and the Dodgers as well as the Kings and the Lakers and USC and UCLA. I got to know John from my start in sports. I started interning as a gopher, as it were, for the Kings when I was 14 years old (in 1971). John was the Kings announcer and he started teaching me how he did the games and I would do the kids games that preceded them. And so I certainly was greatly influenced by John for many years from hearing him do the Kings, the Lakers, the Dodgers, and the Angels. So that was really all I knew and as things have basically progressed over the years, I think I’ve basically developed my own style which is a little lighter type of presentation. I have been very fortunate to be blessed with a voice that I think works well, but it’s not the—I think it back in those days what was the classic PA Announcer voice. You know, working in broadcasting, we’ve been taught to be ourselves, not to be the screaming DJ type person. But I think I have is what I am comfortable with as my style. It’s upbeat, but not overwhelming. I think times call for enthusiasm, if there. I think people know that yes, I am the Angels’ announcer, but I am also responsible to the game and the traditions that go with it. And, I think that always comes first for me.
AngelsWin.com: What is a typical game like for you during a game? I once read that a typical game follows a 30 page script, with details down to quarter minute increments.
David Courtney: The games over the years have progressed now because of the additions of Jumbotrons and fan activities and such that what used to be one page of promotional announcements has turned into what is basically a television production. I get a script of about 30 pages a game. And there is what is called the Run-Down Sheet which goes to the producer, the director, the scoreboard operators, which details what is going to be on the scoreboard each half inning and during the game. I come in and get that as soon as I get to the stadium. Now my day job—obviously I do traffic on the radio—news and traffic—for a company called Metro Networks, and that is from 9:00 to 3:00 during the day Monday to Friday. And then I make my commute to the stadium which usually is an hour, sometimes an hour and a half. I get my script and look over it. If I have the lineups available I do my scorebook and my lineup cards for the game. I usually go down and have dinner with part of the crew about 5:00-5:15. And then we come back up, go over any last minute changes or additions and start the presentation usually about—for a 7:05 game—we usually start announcing about 6:25 and proceed through the pregame and into the game itself.
AngelsWin.com: So, with a 7:05 game, what time are you usually out of the stadium?
David Courtney: If the game ends about 10:00, I’m usually finished by about 10:30. I give the parking lot a little time to clear and then head out and head home about a half hour after the game ends. There’s not really any need for me to stay much later than that.
AngelsWin.com: Who is on your crew and what do they do to assist?
David Courtney: Peter Bull is the Director of Game Entertainment. He is a young man who has moved up in the organization through the years. He started out as a sales intern and now he is in charge of the Jumbotron presentation and all of the game elements. He writes the script for me. He produces the run-down which coordinates all of the information the ads-sales department wants to see on the screens, the video boards and all of the signage. He is assisted by a couple of people in the Jumbotron itself. He has two people who are full-time in the Jumbotron room who actually produce and edit all of the videos that you see—the player highlights, put together the music videos and things. That’s all done in-house. The graphics are pretty much done in-house. Then there are most of the game-time people who are part-time and come in for each event. Dave Tsuruda is the Producer of Video Operations and Danny Pitts is the Associate Producer and they have been there for many years following the team. Peter’s assistant, the Entertainment Supervisor, is Heather Capizzi and she is in charge of the Strike Force and coordinating their appearances and presentations. And then each game we have a crew of 9 or 10 technical directors, video board directors, scoreboard operators, camera persons, audio crew to come in. Bruce McGuire who has been the DJ for probably about 10 years now with us, plays all the music recorded and the prerecorded organist—we don’t have an organist anymore and haven’t had for several years. We’ve all pretty much together. A lot of them have been there before I started working in 1990 and are still working on the crew from back in the old Big A days.
AngelsWin.com: Wow! That’s quite impressive.
David Courtney: Yes. Many of them worked for the City of Anaheim and then when Disney came in, a lot of them stayed on and have carried over. It’s a big family and almost all of them are Angels fans to begin with.
AngelsWin.com: What was it like when the Autrys ran the team? Do you have a favorite moment?
David Courtney: I think that the interaction that Mr. Autry was someone who was very, very approachable, very friendly. He ran it as a family operation. He spoke to anyone who came along. And, it’s the same with Arte. I don’t have as much interaction because were on a different building level, so I don’t see Mr. Moreno as I did Mr. Autry whose suite was on the same level as where my level is. He is always there to talk to people and shake hands and go down and see the players—the same as Mr. Autry. I think he’s taken a lot of pages from Mr. Autry’s book on how an owner of the team should relate to his players, not that Mr. Moreno had to read it. I just think that he carries on a tradition.
AngelsWin.com: Which baseball player’s name has given you the most trouble to pronounce over the years?
David Courtney: Early on, Mark Grudzielanek was very difficult for some reason. I don’t know. I had trouble with him. Now it just comes naturally. I always had fun with Gary DiSarcina. I miss a name that you can roll up and down a little bit. One or two syllable players are a little more difficult than guys who have four or five syllables you can have some fun with. For some reason, I always had trouble getting that one out. But there really hasn’t been too much of a difficult one in the last few years.
AngelsWin.com: What has been your most enjoyable promo to announce?
David Courtney: Oh, I think at the end of the season on Fan Appreciation Day when we gave away a car. That’s always fun to be down on the field with fans and someone who is going home with a $20,000 car that they didn’t think that they could ever win. That’s always a kick. I grew up wanting to be a game show announcer and that’s kind of my one shot of doing it every year.
AngelsWin.com: What’s the toughest or most involved for you?
David Courtney: I don’t know. There’s really not one that’s too difficult. I can’t really think of one that’s been a problem.
AngelsWin.com: Any humorous moments that you have had?
David Courtney: Oh, I’ve had my moments of announcing the wrong team during a game. Just for some reason something just stuck in my head about a team we just played or is coming in that I’ve read in a promotional announcement beforehand and all of a sudden we’re playing Detroit and I say “Now leading off for Oakland . . . “ If I have a faux pas, it’s that every once in while my brain conks out and something else comes out of my mouth that I wasn’t expecting. I try to keep those to a minimum. I think I announced a batting coach coming to bat instead of a player just because I had the number wrong. Spring Training is always a challenge because they’ve got players that they bring in at the last minute and forget to put into the lineup card and I’ll see number 84 is coming to bat and I’ve said “Now batting number 84 . . . ” and I’m looking and can’t find the name, and so I’m just stuck there in space with nowhere to go.
AngelsWin.com: What is it like working with the kids on Sunday afternoon games? Any funny stories?
David Courtney: They’re fun. I think a lot of them they didn’t really want to be there in the first place. It’s more their parents wanting them to be there. I try to calm them down and engage them in some chat. They usually come up about an inning before to actually go to do their portion of the game. So we’ve had time to talk and we’ll talk about how things are in school. If they are a Little Leaguer, we’ll talk about how their team doing this season and who is their favorite Angel if they come to the games a lot. I try to get their minds off of what is going on and really have a chance to see how it’s not anything scary. It’s just that you talk and it gets amplified throughout the stadium and that there really is nothing to worry about. Sometimes the kid I thought was going to be totally frozen just comes out opens up and has one of the biggest voices that we’ve ever heard—ones where we’ve had their parents kind of step away when it’s their turn so they don’t have mom or dad leaning on them and push things it turns out fun. I can’t recall a bad experience with any of the kids. Sometimes we have to disappoint them because we only give them three outs and so sometimes it’s real quick and they’re done.
AngelsWin.com: What’s it like working in the post-season?
David Courtney: Well, it’s always hectic because there are more people around. Actually, there’s less work for me because they cut back on the number of announcements. It’s just the game itself, so I’m actually able to sit back and watch the game a little bit more, though we can’t do any rooting. That’s still a frowned upon situation in the press box and the tradition of the writers. They always make an announcement in the game reminding you no cheering, no team partisanship. So when the Angels won the World Series, we basically had to move on and plan for the post-game announcements and really didn’t get a chance to savor it. I really didn’t let it all sink in until the DVD came a couple of months later and I got to sit back and watch what really happened and realize that we had won the world championship. At the time it was just another game moving into another element of the presentation.
AngelsWin.com: Do you have a special memory or moment from the Series that really sticks out?
David Courtney: The crowd. Obviously when the Angels came from behind to tie things up and send it into the Game 7 because we were really, at the time, having to plan on presenting San Francisco with a trophy that night. They were getting ready downstairs to get the stage and then all of a sudden, nope, put it away, we’re coming back here one more time. And then of course we got the scoring out of the way early in Game 7 and then we just had to get through the rest of the game to finish it out. Being able to go down on the field after the game after the stadium was pretty well empty and stand on the field and look around at all the confetti and be on the World Series logo and have a picture taken there. That was special. I have a friend who has been an Angels fan for many, many years, and I was able to bring her down onto the field and let her be a part of it as well. So I kind of helped somebody else live out her dream which is fun for me.
AngelsWin.com: What are you doing to get ready for the All-Star Game?
David Courtney: I don’t really know yet. I’ve just looked at what the presentations have been at the other games. I know that I’ll have involvement a lot in the young stars game, the celebrity game, and then when it comes to the Home-Run Derbies and the game itself I don’t know how much I’ll have to do with it. They have given it to the television broadcasters. The last couple of years, it seems, they’ve let the play-by-play person for television introduce lineups and stats. I don’t know if that is the case this year or not. But, whatever they ask of me I will be more than happy to do and enjoy it as both a fan and a working event.
AngelsWin.com: Since your career has spanned both, do you have a preference between digital music or a live organist?
David Courtney: I think it’s very difficult to find a person that can on a moment’s notice come up with a live song. It has to be somebody really special who knows sports and can turn on the dime as it were to play a song. So, I think it is a little easier for someone who has it already recorded to play those things. Now I do miss having a live organist. I think that does add to the presentation, the sound of it. But you’d be surprised how many people have come up and still wondered, you know, looking for the organist and we don’t have one. We haven’t had one for a couple of years. It is a very rare person to know the sport and to have the full music library at their fingertips to help with that.
AngelsWin.com: The Rally Monkey—love him or hate him?
David Courtney: I love him. The first thing I thought when it came out was “Oh come on, really?” They were just joshing around in the back. We were just goofing off. Sometimes we’ve done promotions where we’ve planned and we’ve mapped it out and we’ve worked and thought that this was really going to take over and nothing happens. The crowd is just dead. And then something that was just a goof turns out to be the marketing tool of a lifetime. I know that the Rally Monkey takes a lot of heat in the media, but we’re there for the fans. The fans love him that’s all that really matters. As long as the fans keep asking for it, they’re going to get it I think.
AngelsWin.com: Are we going to see new Rally Monkey commercials?
David Courtney: I would hope so. Because they involve movies, we have to first get permission to get the rights to take those snippets of the movies. So, first we have to come up with an idea that works. Then we have to see if they can be used. And that does take some time. I know that going to Spring Training each year we all get together as a group and talk about what things we can do with the players. You know last year we asked questions of the players and this year we have a couple of things we’re going to try and see if they change it up a bit. Every year we’re trying to involve and upgrade and plan new things to keep it fresh.
AngelsWin.com: San Francisco was the first baseball stadium to have a female announcer. Since then, there haven’t been many more. Do you think we’ll see more female announcers?
David Courtney: I think you will, but I think that the problem is that these jobs come open so rarely. You know I’ve been the Angels’ announcer 16 years, and the Kings for 21, and hopefully I’m going to do it until they tell me they don’t want me anymore. It’s a great job that no one wants to leave once they have it. So the openings are very rare. So, it would just have to be the right time and the right place for someone.
I think we’ll see a lot more additions of secondary announcers. People working in the stands adding to the presentation, interacting with the fans and doing games and things like that whereas I am way back in the press box. I can’t really be one-on-one with somebody down on the field.
AngelsWin.com: More like what you would see at a Minor League stadium where they have announcers where they are out and about the stadium with microphones?
David Courtney: To be honest I haven’t been to a Minor League baseball game in probably 20 years, so I don’t know how they do it. I just know from hearing stories from other folks about what goes on. But, yeah, I think that there will be more opportunities for groups of people to do those things, whereas I may just be concerned about calling players up to bat and promotional announcements and then somebody else will take care of the games and entertainment section.
AngelsWin.com: Over the years, you have had to announce a few moments of silence, such as after 9/11 and after Nick Adenhart’s death. You’ve done so with a commanding presence.
David Courtney: Well, to be very honest with you, I did not do the Nick Adenhart presentation. I was not there that night because of a commitment to the Kings. That was Phil Hulett who was filling in for me. As to the others, yes.
AngelsWin.com: How did you and what is it like?
David Courtney: I always try to read things over very carefully and make sure I have my wording correct. And, I sometimes wish I recorded it ahead of time because I do get a little bit emotional. I have had problems keeping composure, but I have been very fortunate to pull through. When we do a memorial or something I try not to watch the video going into the announcements because I know that I get caught in it that I do have a very sentimental nature and sometimes it’s difficult to try and maintain a smooth read through what has to be said.
AngelsWin.com: How is announcing a hockey game different than announcing a baseball game?
David Courtney: The thing about the two sports is that hockey is reactive. I have to wait for something to happen before I do my job. Penalties have to be called, goals have to be scored. Baseball is pre-active. I’m leading up to the activity. I’m calling a batter up to the plate, or I’m calling what kind of positioning there is the field. So, I could go through a whole period perhaps and not say anything other than ticket announcements and such whereas baseball I am guaranteed to talk about each batter as they come up to the plate and what’s going on. I can’t really project as to what’s really going to happen for baseball as I can for hockey.
AngelsWin.com: What do you do away from the ballpark?
David Courtney: My fiancée and I love to go out and explore Southern California—something we both wanted to do for a while that we didn’t do by ourselves until I met her about 4 years ago. I love going to movies and live theater.
AngelsWin.com: It’s a bit ironic that we fans all go to the ballpark for our fun . . .
David Courtney: That’s funny. I can’t recall the last time I went to a sporting event just to sit and watch. I don’t think I could do it anymore. If I do, I end up watching for all the—Well, actually, I did. I went a game in Seattle a couple of years ago when we were visiting friends. I went to the Mariners game and I was taking pictures of the scoreboard and what they put on screen and listening to their announcements and that. I couldn’t tell you what happened in the game or who won the game or such, but I’m kind of jaded now about what I’m watching at a sporting event.
AngelsWin.com: How do you see 2010 going for the Angels?
David Courtney: I think that we are going to have a good steady starting rotation. Obviously there’s not anyone who you say is the go-to guy. I think that everyone will be one of those guys that you count on coming in one right after the other. Not a particular “ace” per se, but the guys you count on and follow. I think it will be interesting to watch Brandon Wood now that I think he will finally have the job to keep or lose for himself and see how he responds. Hopefully what we’re hoping for is that it will be the same way that Kendry Morales responded when he got 1B to himself and knew the job was his and kind of relaxed. I don’t think we have a lot to worry about in terms of veteran presence with Torii Hunter and Hideki Mastui—although I don’t know how much his command is of the English language is. They do say that he is an excellent person in the locker room. We’ll see how things shake down with the outfield set and one specific designated hitter and a steady, if sometimes not spectacular infield group—one that I think became very consistent run-producing last year.
AngelsWin.com: If there is one thing you could say to all the fans without using the microphone, what would it be?
David Courtney: Thank you for all the people who come by and say “hi” or “we love what you do and we enjoy coming to games and hearing you.” And, if I do have to miss a game, that they say “Hey, we missed you. Where were you the other night?” People actually know that and pay attention is always very flattering and something that is most appreciative.
AngelsWin.com: On behalf of Angelswin.com, I want to thank you and your entire staff for all that you all do to make our entertainment at the game more enjoyable. And, on behalf Angelswin.com, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.
David Courtney: You’re welcome. That’s one thing that we always key upon: we can’t control what happens on the field, but we can control what happens off of it. We always want to make sure that maybe they didn’t get a win that night, but that people go away saying that they were entertained and will come back.