BY MIKE LEONARD
Chuck Crabb, the “Voice of Assembly Hall,” says he’s had many mentors and influences over the years, with none more important than the fabled “Voice of Yankee Stadium” from 1951–2007, the late Bob Sheppard.
“He said your role as the stadium announcer is not to sound like a rabble-rouser or a cheerleader. I’ve always tried to be one who related to that,” says Crabb. “You let the cheerleaders be the ones who get the crowd going.”
Crabb, 65, began his 39th year as the public-address announcer at Indiana University’s Assembly Hall in November. “What amazes me is that’s one year less than the 40 years Bert Laws gave to the university as my predecessor,” he says. And if Crabb has his way, he’ll surpass the longevity of Laws, staying on in his roles as announcer and assistant athletics director for facilities for at least a couple of more years.
A native of Brazil, Indiana, Crabb did public-address announcing and called sporting events on radio during his high school years. He was recruited to be a sportswriter by The Daily Herald-Telephone (now The Herald-Times) as soon as he arrived as an Indiana University student in 1969. “You have to know how to write to know how to speak,” he advises.
Crabb has been an announcer for various IU sporting events and always embraced the “just the facts” ethos of Sheppard and Laws. It did raise a few eyebrows, he chuckles, when, early in his professional career, he veered slightly outside his old-school peers’ style with his signature Assembly Hall introduction of “Your Indiana Hoooooosiers!”
Crabb also has a passion for track and field. He worked as the press center interview manager at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles; competition producer for in-stadium presentations at the 1996 games in Atlanta, Georgia; and announcer for every event he could at the 1988 Olympic Trials. He acknowledges that he looks for major track and field events around the country to work during vacation time. “There’s a real fraternity of broadcasters in track and field,” he says.
And what does his wife, Madeline, have to say about those working vacations? “She’s proud of what I do,” he says. “I’ve pretty much devoted my life to broadcasting. There are no little Crabbs running around.”