Oneida High School public address announcer Kevin Acres has been named the 2020-2021 National Sports P.A. Announcer of the Year by the National Association of Sports Public Address Announcers.
The award is named for Bob Sheppard, the long-time stadium announcer for the New York Yankees, widely considered to be the best P.A. announcer ever.
“As a public address announcer, being mentioned in the same breath as Bob Sheppard is like being compared to John Wooden, Walt Alston or Vince Lombardi as a coach, or Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan or Jim Brown as an athlete,” said Jeff Kurtz, NASPAA board member and P.A. announcer at Kent State University. “There could be no higher form of praise in this field. It means you are recognized as one of the best at what you do.”
The award is based on clear, concise and correct P.A. announcing, voice quality, and the delivery and style of announcing, as well as adherence to proper ethics. The NASPAA has a strict code of conduct for P.A. announcing that largely mirrors Sheppard’s style. The long-time Yankees’ voice once said, “A P.A. announcer is not a cheerleader, or a circus barker or a home town screecher. He’s a reporter.” The NASPAA strongly discourages sports P.A. announcers from being “homers.”
Acres is a 20-year veteran as a P.A. announcer. He is largely known as the voice of Oneida’s Jim May Stadium, and does basketball games as well. He’s perhaps best-known for his trademark, rallying fans from both teams just before kickoff with his signature line, “Are we ready for some football?”
He began doing P.A. at Oneida Middle School games in 2001, and stepped up to do the high school games a few years later. He has done basketball games since 2009.
Widely recognized as a consummate professional in his approach, Acres — whose day job is training and safety specialist at PermaFix in Kingston — is also a part of WBNT Radio’s broadcast crew for Oneida football and basketball. He works alongside Tim Smith to set up and take down the broadcast equipment at each game, and also lends his voice to the broadcast. At halftime of home games, Acres often goes back and forth between P.A. for band performances and other stadium announcements that need to be made and doing the halftime broadcast on radio so that Smith and his color commentators, Mark Matthews and John L. Strunk, can have a break.
In an interview last year, Acres shared some of the influence for his style of announcing with the Independent Herald.
“You always want to do things with an emphasis to help get the crowd into it,” he said. “Everything you do as far as wrestling goes is focused on getting the crowd in on it. You have to add a little flair to it.”
But one thing Acres never did was try to emulate someone else. In high school gymnasiums and at football stadiums all across East Tennessee, PA announcers try to model themselves after Bobby Denton — the late University of Tennessee football PA announcer — or someone they’ve heard at the professional level.
“I can’t stand guys who try to copycat off of somebody else,” he said. “I think you need to be yourself. Being yourself will be a lot more natural than trying to be someone else.”
Acres is also careful to add flair without being too dramatic.
“Sometimes it’s hard not to go over-the-top,” he said. “I’ve made the mistake of doing that.”