Jeff Striegle's job title says he’s the head NASCAR radio play-by-play announcer, but that is not the way he sees it.
“Let’s make sure we do it right,” he says with complete sincerity.
Instead, the Wyoming native views himself more as a co-anchor, which is a much more accurate description of his role.
“I think what makes magic for radio is the fact that all of our mics are always live,” the 24-year Motor Racing Network play-by-play announcer says.
You see, unlike most sports, NASCAR on the Motor Racing Network doesn’t use one play-by-play announcer to describe the action.
They use four.
“We do a baton-style handoff,” explains racing veteran announcer Mike Bagley. “I’ll pick up (the announcing) and then the others will take off (by speaking after me).”
Along with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace serving as an analyst, there are two play-by-play announcers in the booth, and two others around the track, each stationed at a corner.
Now here’s what’s really impressive.
“It’s all voice inflection,” said Bagley. “The down pitch of the voice is the cue that I’m up next or the next announcer is up next.”
Yup, that’s right. There’s no button cueing them up. Nor is there someone screaming in their ear to start talking. In fact, all producer Ryan Horn primarily does is make sure they make their sponsors happy.
“They are so talented,” Horn said. “I mean they are able to carry these things with all the experience they have. They have it kind of locked down.”
The multi-play-by-play announcer approach started in 1970 when the Motor Racing Network was formed. Back then, the MRN felt NASCAR needed a shot in the arm.
It got one.
“Is it an art?” Striegle ponders. “I don’t know, but there is always that feeling, when you know, that the entire group jelled and you delivered the best performance possible.”
And when that happens, it’s not only a win for them, it’s one for their audience too.
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