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Who's doing the play-by-play?

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Who's doing the play-by-play?

“Martin, for-r-r three!” If you’ve been to a Skidmore basketball game in recent years, you’ll remember the enthusiastic cadence that announcer John Meaney gives to a successful three-point shot. “I am excited about announcing my threes,” says Meaney. “It’s turned into a thing.” And it’s a thing no matter which team sinks the long shot. Sort of. “I try not to be up for the home team more than the visitors,” he says. “I try to be enthusiastic about visitors’ threes.”

But the irrepressible Thoroughbreds fan can perhaps be forgiven for any extra oomph aimed at the home crowd. He has been a courtside fixture for twenty years, and speaks warmly about the maturing of Skidmore’s athletics programs. “I can remember, back in 1985, we were lucky to have thirty people at a game,” he says. “Now we get 200.” There is more than a little pride in the way he says “This is my hometown college.”

Meany first grabbed a microphone at a Saratoga Springs High School junior-varsity football game. After studying communications at Ithaca College, he worked at Saratoga’s WKMJ radio station, where he lined up Skidmore’s sports information director, Bill Jones, to give live reports on Skidmore athletics. Soon Meaney reciprocated, volunteering to announce Skidmore basketball games. He continued as a volunteer for seventeen years. Now a paid announcer for men’s and women’s basketball and men’s ice hockey, Meaney says it still all starts with being a fan. “I’m doing it because I love doing it.”

Meaney’s regular job has him on the air with three local radio stations—
co-hosting a morning show, doing news, and serving as operations manager. Meany is humble about his radio voice, which is resonant and reporter-like, but he takes a special pride in his sports announcing. He has a good memory for names, is handy with the electronic paraphernalia (he’s been known to handle the clock at hockey games while announcing), and holds himself to high standards (for example, “you don’t speak while play is actually happening”). He never hams it up or distracts from the game. And his work ethic is impeccable. “I think he got that from his dad, who was a mailman,” says Jones. “He’s here rain or shine…snow, sleet, whatever.”

Skidmore basketball regulars appreciate what English professor Murray Levith describes as the “professional polish” he lends to the games. For Meaney, it’s all about generating enthusiasm. “You want to create a mood,” he says, “but without being the center of attention.”

If no one notices him sitting on the sidelines, that’s fine. But he admits he’s pleased when fans and coaches from visiting teams compliment his announcing. Which must mean not only that he is accurate and clear, but that he succeeds in announcing all the threes with equitable gusto. —KG