Adrienne Roberson's cool sports job: Bowie Baysox PA announcer
Adrienne Roberson started out as a theater major at the University of Tennessee but quickly switched to broadcasting when she realized she could combine two passions: sports and speaking into a microphone.
She loved listening to Casey Kasem and Dick Clark on the radio, and she grew up in Philadelphia, going to Eagles and Phillies games with her dad. Once she got to Tennessee, she realized "it's like you eat and breathe football."
Since then, Roberson, 41, has worked in radio across the U.S. as a disc jockey, sports and traffic reporter and sports board operator for SiriusXM. But her big break came in college when she got the job as public address announcer for the Knoxville Smokies minor league baseball team for two seasons. She's done PA work for a number of college and pro sports teams -- true labors of love -- and has been the voice of the Bowie Baysox, the Baltimore Orioles' Double-A affiliate just minutes from her home in Odenton, Maryland, since 2005. By her count, she's one of only three women doing the job in organized baseball.
She reached the majors in 2012 when she worked the mic for an Orioles game at Camden Yards on Mother's Day. She has done eight other O's games since and was one of seven finalists (out of 672 applicants) for the team's regular gig.
Roberson juggles a hectic schedule working for the Baysox and Sirius, doing PA work for Georgetown University and several other teams, and raising two teenagers with her husband, a U.S. Navy officer. Recently she talked about her baseball career -- and why it's always important to get your foot in the door.
Put down that beer!
When I applied to the Smokies, I got a job as a box-seat hostess, which is basically when you bring the beer to the people sitting in the lower section. I wanted the job to announce, but that wasn't open. So I got my foot in the door.
The announcer was a TV on-air guy, and he got called away to do a big story one day, and I put the beer down, as a hostess, and walked up to the press box. They literally had me put the beer down on the ground and I went up and announced the game. I was there, and they knew I wanted that job. Then the guy started doing more stuff and I got the job. So in 1996 and '97, I was the full-time announcer.
Everything has always been about being in the right place at the right time. Even if you have the talent, it doesn't matter. You've got to pay your dues, you've got to learn from the bottom up and at least get in the door and work for what you want to do.
Voice of the Baysox
In 2004, we moved here from Pennsylvania and while looking for homes, I saw the Bowie Baysox stadium. We live about 15 minutes from there so I put in an application to be an announcer. They didn't have an announcing position open so I was actually a camera operator in 2004. I maybe did about 30 games that year, you know, following the flight of the ball or fan action, that kind of stuff. Again, the announcer couldn't make it one day, and I filled in because again they knew that's what I wanted. When he decided to change jobs, they offered it to me.
I play it pretty straight. I do weave in a lot of enthusiasm. I definitely embellish sometimes. Any players' names that end in "O," I like to give that much more. Like, "Now batting, Manny Machadooooooo!"
It's not just reading a name on a piece of paper. You're a big element of the game.Adrienne Roberson
When players come up to bat, they've got so much on their mind. Sometimes they're listening and sometimes they're not, but they need to hear their music to kind of get in their zone and kind of tune out all that's going on around them. I just try to give them that little bit of extra energy and just bring enthusiasm to the game. It's not just reading a name on a piece of paper. You're a big element of the game.
When I first get to the park, I sit down with the radio guy from the other team and we run through the rosters for any weird pronunciations or names you think you know how it's going to sound, but it's completely different. I write them phonetically real big on a piece of paper so when that name comes up, I have it. There's been some difficult names. Two names I remember that were hard were Eulogio de la Cruz -- pronounced "a-oo-low-Hee-E-oh" -- and Ambiorix Concepcion.
For the most part I've had really positive reaction. You do have some people that would prefer a man's voice. You'd have that anywhere. You have people that don't like you. So I know there's people out there, but I haven't had anybody say it to my face. I have seen it on Twitter.
Showing up to The Show
It's been incredible, just an absolute dream come true to work Orioles games. It's like the Baysox but on a grander scale. Instead of 7,000 people, you're talking closer to 40,000, but it's a whole different world. You're still in front of the mic, you're still doing the game, but the crowd energy, the enthusiasm. Thousands of people are echoing what you say.
'Wow' factor at Camden Yards
I'd say from the second inning on, I enjoy every moment, just looking around at this gorgeous field, and the city itself and the game. But that first little bit ... every time I go there's still that wow moment.
This is work?
It's a job but it doesn't feel like a job. I never get bored. I get excited every time I go. It's my passion. I get to watch a game and announce and every day is something new. It's never seeing the same game again and again. Every day, something amazing happens. The people I work with, we all like working together. When the season's over, it's sad.
It's a good thing I really like what I do and it doesn't feel like a job, but at the same time, you work all the holidays, either with the Baysox or Sirius or Georgetown. There's pretty much sports every day. But I'm used to it. And just getting to be outside, enjoying the game is fun. You're not in an office behind a desk all day. You're a part of the game.