What makes a GREAT Roller Derby announcer?

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Just so all our readers know we are bringing you not only one of the best at his craft but a good friend of mine Danny Wolf. We have received quite a few emails over the past couple months of new announcers wanting some guidance on how to become better at their craft. It didn’t take me long to think of the name Danny Wolf when it comes to being a great announcer.

Heather: Danny, Could you give me and fill in our readers of a brief description of your career highlights in announcing and being a radio/TV personality?

Danny: Hi Heather!  Thanks, of thinking of me!  Well, I have been announcing roller derby since 1989!  Did the last games of the Los Angeles T-Birds, still am the voice of the San Francisco Bay Bombers, and have done on-track play-by-play for other co-ed Indy promotions also since around ’89!  Boy, did I just date myself!  Now, for RollerJam, I did all 4 seasons but not play-by-play, but rather in the infield doing the interviews which couldn’t be more fun being right there in the infield smack dab amongst all the excitement!   Besides the ‘banked track’ I have announced professional wrestling all over the country and on tv.  Everything from ring announcer to ringside play-by-play.  And there was also a time when I was known as “the King of Outrageous Videos,” long before the YouTube generation.  I produced several ‘reality clip shows & series’ mostly for FOX, so that gave me the chance to do the talk-show circuit for years presenting videos from my shows on the likes of Maury Povich, Sally Jessy Raphael, Jenny Jones, and others.

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Heather: What led you to decide you to become an announcer with Rollerjam? You took quite a bit of abuse from the “Characters” on RollerJam, how did you keep your composer so well?

Danny: First answer is I had been announcing roller derby here in LA when RollerJam was looking for announcers.  So, I pretty much was the only play-by-play co-ed game announcer in the country (and still am).  Two local skaters helped launch RollerJam for Executive Producers Ross and Stephen, looking for skating talent.  I was told to go to Florida, I did with several other candidates.  There was a large warehouse type building where there was a track, and they had us candidates call various plays.  Well, I did not get the play-by-play job, which I was always kind of happy about because I thought it would be more fun hanging in the trenches with all the skaters and being right there in the middle of the action.  I am always happy it worked out that way.  Now as far as keeping my composure, let’s just say we, rather I was always lucky that we had two cameras when I did interviews.  One was a wider two shot on me and whoever I was interviewing, and the second camera was a follow for who was talking.  Thank god for cam 2 as you do not, (well Heather maybe you do), know how many times while interviewing our dear commissioner Kenneth Loge III, that whatever odd rant he was delivering would make me crack-up and start laughing.  And then it was always me hoping his answers would be long so I would have enough time to compose myself for whatever follow up question.  As far as getting hit, kicked, chased, slapped during interviews, I loved every minute of it!  Btw, I remember you Heather coming to that training facility the day I was there auditioning, and you showing up as well to skate for them, and if I’m not mistaken you skated wearing a dress!  Am I remembering that correctly?  And boy could you skate!!!

Heather: For our readers who are interested in being announcers for Roller Derby, what are some hints/tips/tricks that you would recommend that they practice on so that they can become more proficient?

Danny: Great question and over the years I have been asked this.  Without a doubt the most important thing to know while announcing LIVE to the house or on tv is to make sure the fans know the rules!  I was invited once to an LA Derby Dolls game a long time ago and remembering fans sitting around me being frustrated and not enjoying the experience because the announcers were not explaining the rules, why what was happening was happening, and not explaining the game to anyone who might be there for the first time.  You have to make the fans know how the game works…..how points are scored…..why someone received a penalty…..why was a specific block so important leading to points on a jam, etc.  There are so many options out there for people’s sports entertainment dollars, and if they feel they cannot understand the game, or the rules, or why or how someone gets points, well, then there is other channels to turn to or other live event sports to attend where you won’t be confused or understand what’s going on.  Also, when announcing live ‘to the house,’ always keep it exciting.  Roller Derby is one of the only sports ever that even when a play has ended, there usually is something still going on.  No ‘dead air,’ keep it alive, keep an exciting level of excitement going throughout.  Get people on their feet, get them to chant & get them on the edge of their seats to the very last second of the game!  It’s an experience you don’t want them to forget, and more importantly come back to again and again, and come back with new friends who then can come back with new friends.  This great sport would never exist without enthusiastic fans and fan support!

Heather: Since the cancellation of RollerJam have you heard about the possibility of Roller Derby returning to TV?

Danny: Wow, have people tried and tried!  All girl leagues have tried with very little success and traditional co-ed leagues have tried but with even less success because with co-ed there just hasn’t been a real league, with several teams, that skates consistently.  Here in California it’s not happened because small promoters just don’t skate enough games on a consistent basis to get any fan momentum, nor have a full time training center to develop new skaters, so there is nothing to follow on a regular basis.  My dream has always been to get Roller Derby back on TV as it was the first ever televised sport!  It’s a wonderful soap-opera loaded with great skaters, personalities, and action.  I plan to make a push myself sometime this year to various networks to see if we can get something back on, but I’m talking traditional co-ed, ‘scripted,’ nostalgic Roller Derby!  It’s funny, Roller Derby and Professional Wrestling have always been ‘sister’ sports.  When one is big, the other isn’t, and back-n-forth, but it’s been a very long drought as wrestling has stayed relevant and big for decades now, and not since Rollerjam has there really been any banked track presence to a national television audience.
Roller Derby back where it belongs….on tv!  And Heather, I am glad you didn’t ask me my opinion on why Rollerjam didn’t continue past the 160 episodes and a season 4!  That’s a whole other interview for a whole other day!

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