July 17, 2013

While my job in the special events department holds many responsibilities, one of my favorite roles to fill is announcer manager. Now what is that you might ask? As a member of the opening ceremonies team, the announcer manager manages everything the opening ceremonies emcee says from start to finish.

Prior to the race, the event producer feeds information to me, and I develop a script for the announcer. On-site, I finesse the script, make changes as they occur throughout the weekend and meet with the announcer to walk through the script before each race.

Once it is race time, the intensity increases quickly. I’m wearing a radio and listening to both the NASCAR and JHE teams. With communication coming from two sources, people are constantly talking to me and changes happen quickly. It’s key to stay on your toes for whatever is thrown at you. Being “in show” with so many moving parts is the most challenging part of the job but also my favorite aspect. Managing the momentum and anticipation of a live event is thrilling and becomes second nature with practice. 

Though the job can be intense, it is also a nice break from the norm. I love traveling and exploring new cities as well as the opportunity to work with employees I don’t usually interact with and see faces that are always on the road. Occasionally known as the “road mom,” the job sometime calls for a random trip to the infield care center with a sick co-worker or an attempt at helping our hauler drivers make a meal. I’m no chef, but I can make a mean PB&J.

One of my favorite memories as an announcer manager is from Texas Motor Speedway when Eddie Gossage was serving as announcer for an IndyCar race. I was staring at Eddie’s toes while cueing him from the flagstand. It was definitely a different take on the role! Through a variety of different settings and challenges at the track, I’ve cemented a fun relationship with the permanent track announcer who is always up for a few practical jokes.

Everyone at JHE wears many hats, and this role is no different. It’s important to be flexible and willing to jump in wherever and whenever help is needed. When the opening ceremony ends, you feel a huge sense of accomplishment for being a part of the team who created such an impressive show.

– Kristin Thompson

Kristin Thompson, announcer manager, opening ceremonies, NASCAR, Texas Motor Speedway, Eddie Gossage, IndyCar