MSU public address announcer Jason Walker might be known for his “First down, Bobcats!” call at football games, but few know the man behind the voice.
Walker has announced MSU football games for 15 years, women’s basketball for 11 years, and volleyball for 10. He also announced men’s basketball for four seasons from 1996-2000.
Walker started announcing for MSU in 1996 while working for a radio station in town. He got his start in volleyball, and had the opportunity to announce his first football game when the primary announcer became sick in 1996.
“When I started, I was supposed to do volleyball and women’s basketball.,” Walker said. “The guy that had been doing volleyball took over football. I was his spotter at football, and he got laryngitis before the homecoming game. I moved into the spot, and asked my dad to be my spotter, and he’s been doing it ever since.”
He has noticed changes in the MSU athletic department in his years here. “Each sport has gotten progressively better,” he said. “Football, is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were when I started. The overall talent level has gotten better as the programs have gotten better.”
The Bozeman native grew up watching the Bobcats and stated that, as a fan, being the announcer is a dream come true. “I’m from Bozeman and I was a ball boy for the Cats football team in high school, and I grew up watching the national championship run in 1984,” he explained. “My dad took me to games as a little kid.”
He is known for his calls during the game, which he came up with them on his own. “The first down call started in ’96. A guy in Missoula claims he got it from somewhere in Idaho, and then I stole it from there when I started here. That’s not true. I had never been to a game in Missoula and I don’t care about them.”
Walker’s favorite part of the job is the relationships he has made with players and staff. Since he is also a student, he forges friendships with student-athletes through classes and attending the games. “I don’t know many football players, but the ones I know, are really cool. It’s fun to have class with them,” he said. “And then with the basketball and volleyball players, it’s like having little sisters. There was a volleyball player a few years ago who was 5-foot-4, but I always had to introduce her as 5-foot-5.”
There are not many downsides to the job for Walker, however, when the teams lose, he feels especially affected. “When they lose, I feel like I’m a part of the team, and it’s painful. It’s not fun announcing a losing game. I announced the 0-11 [football] season when there were hundreds of people in the stands. Now there are 20,000.”
Walker loves his job, and said, “I’ll keep [announcing] as long as MSU will have me. I’m not planning on giving it up.”