The time on the clock was 8:56 in the third quarter of the women’s basketball game against U-Maine Presque Isle and Lauren Petit ’18 just made her second three-pointer of the game. Over the cheers from the crowd and the yelling from the sidelines, Mike Salisbury’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker: “Lauren Petit … for three!”
After serving as the public address announcer (PA) for men’s and women’s basketball since 2015 and for football since 2011, Salisbury knows exactly how to change his voice to reflect the excitement of a game without drawing attention to himself. He enjoys his role in rousing the crowd and motivating players.
“Being a public address announcer is really about sharing the information of the game for the fans that are there as well as shining a spotlight on the players on the court or the field,” Salisbury said.
His interest in public announcing began in high school when he was a sophomore on the varsity basketball team at Madison High School in Maine. While sitting on the bench at the state tournament in Augusta, Salisbury listened to the PA and noticed how it affected the “arena atmosphere.”
In 2009, Salisbury’s father passed away from cancer, giving Salisbury the push he needed to begin pursuing public address announcing.
“It was kind of one of those things where you lose somebody close to you and you think about what you want to do with your life,” he said. “I had always just thought that it was something that I really always wanted to try. So it timed up where my father had just passed away and I was like ‘Gosh, I always wanted to do this. I might as well try it.’”
When Salisbury got word of Freeport High School’s new varsity football program, he jumped on the opportunity.
“The Freeport football program was just starting and I figured they needed somebody so I knew I wouldn’t have to replace anybody or wait for somebody to leave,” he said. “Football was something that I followed and certainly had an interest in. It was one of those first opportunity things and it came at the perfect time.”
Soon after, he reached out to Bowdoin asking if there were any openings to PA at any sports games. In 2011, then Sports Information Director Jim Caton asked Salisbury to PA football games.
“It took a little while to get in. I needed to wait for some openings to happen and have them get to know me a little bit,” Salisbury said. “I was just some random guy off the street … so they had to figure me out a little bit, which was fine and very understandable.”
The one connection Salisbury has to Bowdoin is through women’s basketball coach Adrienne Shibles, who is currently leading the team through an undefeated 18-0 season. Salisbury’s mother was roommates with Shibles’ mother during college, and the families have been close friends ever since.
“That tie to Adrienne and her parents certainly makes me a big fan of the Bowdoin women’s team,” he said. “They obviously are having a really special season here so I’m really interested in seeing how the rest of this year shapes up.”
Bowdoin offered Salisbury the chance to PA at the Frozen Fenway women’s ice hockey matchup between Bowdoin and Connecticut College last season which Bowdoin won 3-0.
“For folks in the PA circle, doing a game at a big, professional, sports stadium is pretty awesome. I was able to sit in the same seat where the regular Boston Red Sox PA announcer would be,” he said. “To be able to kind of be part of that and to hear my voice while I was introducing the teams and the players was one of the most special moments that you can get. So I was very appreciative of Bowdoin for inviting me to do that.”
For Salisbury, however, a successful PA never makes the game about oneself, but instead focuses on the players.
“As a public address announcer, if people leave the game thinking about the players and the excitement of the game and just the overall feeling of the game, that’s great. But if they leave the game thinking about me, that usually means that I’ve done something wrong or I was too much the focus of the attention of the game,” he said. “I get a kick out of it obviously, but it’s the players on the floor that I’m really trying to bring people’s attention to because they are the ones really working hard.”
Although being a PA is not a full-time job, Salisbury feels lucky to be able to have an opportunity to complete a goal that he has had since high school while living in a place that he loves.
“It’s kind of a best of both worlds,” he said. “I’m able to kind of fulfill this public address ‘itch’ that I call it, I’m able to get a great day job here in Portland and I’m really able to leverage all the natural beauty and wonder and opportunities that are available here in the state of Maine. I’m pretty happy with where I am.”