Being at a loss for words does not become public announcers.

In our third story of sports-related hobbies, this issue we focus on public announcers.

The task of public announcer must be one of the most sought-after off-field duties related to sports. When the US professional baseball club San Diego Padres sought a new PA earlier this year, the first 460 hopefuls were granted an onsite audition, and after that the doors were closed – the queue was still crawling a long way from the Padres’ compound at that point.

So the fact that Henri Berg, a 28-year-old native of Jyväskylä, is a public announcer in one – no, two – nope, make it three different sports for local clubs on the highest tier sounds rather impressive. In winter he does ice hockey (JYP) and floorball (Happee), and pesis (Kiri, Kirittäret) in the summer.

So, how did he become a public announcer?

“It started somewhat incidentally,” Berg recalls. “A couple of years back when I was working for the local radio station that also acted as game-hosting sponsor in one floorball game, and for added visibility it was agreed that I, as a rep of the station, would take care of public announcing in that game. I got a little carried away at the first game – I was officially given a warning to show for it! Later that year I was asked to fill in for the incumbent guy, and slowly I got more into it. And the same goes for the other sports: I was first asked as a back-up, and then it started building up.”

This sounds like an excellent example of seizing the opportunity as one arises. So, what goes into doing the PA duty?

“Passion – you have to be interested in the sport, so that you have an idea of what is happening on the field and who is playing. You also have to come to terms with talking to a house full of people through the PA system, which can be very exciting. And you have to be able to mind your tongue, to comply with the values of the club,” Berg lists. “Ice hockey is a big business, and the PA’s talk is more regulated, but in some other sports like floorball you’re expected to be more active.”

Can an immigrant become a public announcer?

“I’d say they ought to have a pretty good command of Finnish to do it here,” Berg says. “Basically, your voice is your instrument, just like on the radio. And if you want to be able to really excite the crowd, you’d better sound natural.”

And so, dear reader, here you have another excuse for not missing your Finnish class, if you are aspiring to become a PA for a Finnish sports club.

Mika Oksanen