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Slice of Life: Shellie Bowers, calling the shots for D.C. sports

Sunday - 3/3/2013, 10:24am  ET

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District resident Shellie Bowers, 50, started announcing as a hobby while working for D.C. Public Schools. He's now a local collegiate sports announcer is contracted for men and women's games throughout the area. (WTOP/Natalie Plumb)

The man behind the voice

Shellie Bowers, D.C. sports announcer

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Natalie Plumb, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Fans who have attended sporting events at American, Georgetown and Howard universities have likely heard Shellie Bowers' voice.

It's the one blaring on the speakers, calling the shots, penalties and halftime announcements. Known for being on top of his p's and q's, Bowers pronounces umpteen-syllable names with clarity and adds a little flair with rhymes.

Bowers is the contracted announcer for colleges and D.C. public schools throughout the Washington area. He worked for DCPS before he became a full-time announcer. He announces just about every sport -- namely men and women's lacrosse, soccer, basketball, baseball and football.

On March 11, he'll announce the Inaugural D.C. State Athletic Association basketball championship games at the Verizon Center. Bowers, 50, was born in northeast D.C. He started studying radio at age 19 and has worked for Radio One, the parent company of WKYS 93.9 FM, WMMJ "Majic" 102.3 FM, WOL 1450 AM and WYCB 1340 AM.

WTOP Living sat on the bench with Bowers on Feb. 23 as he announced a Howard home game in Burr Gymnasium. The Lady Bisons played Coppin State University's Lady Eagles, with Howard losing 71-64.

What're you doing now?

I'm pre-reading the announcements, deciding where I'm going to say what. This, (holds up announcement papers) this is written for print. It's too long. This is a basketball game. People want me to be done quick. I'll edit it mentally, like, on the fly while I'm reading it.

How do you decide when to announce what during the game?

We're in the Mid-East Athletic Conference, and each school's required to announce these (holds up six briefs to read) twice in each game.

What else?

I'm reviewing the pronunciation of the names of all the players cause I'll call out those starter's names.

Do you memorize players' names?

The Howard girls', yes, cause I announce here so often. Fortunately, the other team doesn't have any hard-to-pronounce names. So I'm sitting pretty today.

When did you start announcing?

In college. The way people react to the things you say on the microphone...gives you a rush, you know?

(He begins to announce: And now ladies and gentleman, we ask that you please rise for the national anthem.)

National anthem plays.

(Announces: Ladies and gentleman, today's Mid-Eastern Conference match-up features the Lady Eagles of Coppin State against your Lady Bisons!)

That DJ needs to turn it down. It's bad enough I gotta compete with the band, you know? They get loud. Excuse me for ranting. Sorry, WTOP, for getting my rant on.

When do you make game commentary?

Cause I got so much to read, any time I got a time-out I gotta read and squeeze something in. And any time there's a basket, a foul.

Turnover?

No. (Laughs) That'd be too much.

What percentage of the time do you talk during the game?

About 50 percent of the time. I don't like talking anymore than I have to. People come here to watch a basketball game, not to hear the announcer.

Have you been to games where too much is announced?

Yes.

(Announces: Howard foul charged to number 13 Saadia Doyle.)

In your opinion what's too much?

Like on a high school level you'll hear some announcers talking, especially at football games, you'll hear the announcers talking while the play is going on. That's a big no-no. That irks me.

Cause it's distracting?

Yeah.

To the players even.

Exactly, exactly. You're not supposed to talk until the play is over. So when they call fouls. I look down at the young lady over there. (Points) She's the bookkeeper. She'll stick out her fingers so I know how many fouls. I identify personal and team fouls.

(Announces: Three-point basket by Leola Spotwood.)

You must have really good eye sight.

Well, whenever the game's going on I have my eyes on the floor. Whenever the referee blows the whistle, first thing I do is look for a referee cause that means I'm about to call something.

So are you familiar with...

(Announces: Cheyenne Curly-Payne.)

Are you familiar with every rule in all of these games?

Not all. I played everything when I was a kid -- basketball, football, baseball, soccer. But once I got to high school, I focused on baseball cause that's what I was good at.

(Announces: Basket by Shawntae Payne.)

The first media time-out is coming up in about 25 seconds. I'll do my first announcement.

So you're mostly familiar with the game by virtue of watching it.

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