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Ted Leonsis and the Wizards pick a new PA announcer in voice-off

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, center, with the five finalists for the team's PA announcer job, including winner Ralph Wesley, far right. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

Since becoming owner of the Washington Wizards in June, Ted Leonsis has been busy with another of his famous "to-do" lists. His newest: "101 positive changes in 101 days" -- suggestions from basketball fans who asked him to brighten up the garage at Verizon Center, paint the arena steps, spice up the music, introduce new videos,, other amenities.

"Don't laugh: Men were complaining there was no place to put their beer when they used the urinal," he said. "So we put little shelves over all of them."

Monday night, Leonsis presided over the final auditions for the team's new PA announcer: you know, the voice who introduces the players, pumps up the crowd and keeps everything hopping at the 41 home games. The part-time job doesn't pay all that much -- a few hundred dollars a game -- but comes with a center-court seat.

"These are platform kind of jobs because they get exposure," explained Leonsis. "They become the 'Voice of God' and it leads to radio, advertising, promotion and corporate work."

More than 200 hopefuls applied for the gig; 50 were asked to try out and 16 made the final cut. Leonsis sat in one of the upper rows, eyes closed, listening for a voice that "wears well. I really do think fans can smell authenticity a mile away." Applicants read from a script introducing each player, ad-libbed the "kiss-cam" and other duties. The mood was pretty intense, except when forward Andray Blatche sauntered in and sat down at the mike. "I was just messing with you," he said with a grin. "I can't do it."

The Wizards brass expected one exceptional voice to dominate the competition. Instead, they narrowed the field to five men, and went into overtime: Each contestant had to man up for one final interview to gauge his basketball knowledge. On Tuesday, the team announced a winner, who was right under its nose the whole time: D.C. native Ralph Wesley, 26, the current PA announcer for the Washington Mystics. Yeah, he just made about a zillion new friends.

By The Reliable Source  | September 15, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
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"The part-time job doesn't pay all that much -- a few hundred dollars a game"

Are you kidding? That's not all that much? Please. He'd do it for free.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | September 14, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

He sounds like Carlton from "Fresh Prince"' I wonder if he can dance also.

Posted by: bobilly1 | September 14, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

They need to have an "announcer-cam" to show the funny faces he makes lol

Posted by: AJohn1 | September 14, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the Wizards have a new PA guy. Now, how about a center, two forwards and maybe a shooting guard or two. Uncle Teddy's to-do list isn't done yet.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | September 15, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse

Wish we could clone Marvelous Marv Brooks.

Posted by: ldnational | September 15, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

No offense Ted, but Ralph was a bit annoying to many Mystics fans. I can only hope he steps up his game.

Posted by: mitch661 | September 15, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

What was wrong with Kevin? If the PA situation wasn't broken, why did it need a fix?

Posted by: jefam | September 15, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"No offense Ted, but Ralph was a bit annoying to many Mystics fans. I can only hope he steps up his game."

More than a "bit," I'd say. Mr. Wesley has enthusiasm and a good voice, but he was way over the top with the Mystics announcing, and frequently mispronounced names -- even of OUR players.

Posted by: Epigon | September 16, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

Congrats Ralph!! Good pick Mr. Ted. Ralph does have the skills you requested. The fans will enjoy the new voice.

Posted by: Fresh1100 | September 20, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Did you see how much effort he was putting into each syllable, that looked like a workout. He's probably underpaid if anything.

Posted by: twigmuffin | September 20, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

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