Chris Demirdjian is the public address announcer at Lee Hedges Stadium.
In the coming weeks, the 2014 high school football season will begin at various venues in the area, including Shreveport’s Lee Hedges Stadium. There, on most game nights, you will hear Chris Demirdjian sharing information as the public address announcer.
Demirdjian, a Culver City, Calif., native, came to Shreveport in 2010 with no real connections to the city. But in 2011, along with work in local radio, Demirdjian had the opportunity to announce games for the Shreveport-Bossier Captains, the area’s former minor league baseball team.
Then in July 2011 Demirdjian was approached by Dennis Boddie, the PA announcer at Lee Hedges, who asked if Demirdjian would like to add football to his resume. Boddie’s health was causing him to cut back on his own schedule, and climbing to the Lee Hedges press box was made tougher by arthritis. Boddie suggested that Demirdjian interview for the position, which he did. He got the job, and on September 1, 2011 Demirdjian headed to Lee Hedges to announce the game between Byrd and West Monroe High Schools.
“I’m not from here originally, so I expected a small crowd. But when I got there, the place was packed,” Demirdjian says. “I had never announced a high school football game before, but I told myself to just do what I did with the Captains’ games, and to treat it like talking on the radio, and that’s what I did.”
He’s been announcing games at Lee Hedges ever since.
Demirdjian also currently works as producer for the Tim Fletcher Show weekday mornings from 6 to 9 a.m. on 1130 AM, The Tiger, a job he loves.
Of Dennis Boddie, the man who encouraged him to give announcing football a try, Demirdjian says, “he a great guy and a great mentor.” Boddie is certainly among those best qualified to mentor young announcers in Northwest Louisiana. From 1998 through 2012, Boddie was the PA announcer for the annual Independence Bowl in Shreveport, but his involvement in area sports has run the gamut from college basketball to drag racing.
Beginning in 1981 Boddie announced Centenary women’s basketball games, adding the men’s games in 1983. During that time he announced contests between Centenary and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a team that included future New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher among its players, and Louisiana Tech and their standout, Carl Malone, who went on to a 19-year NBA career.
“The first time I saw Malone walking over to the scorer’s table during a game, I thought, ‘this guy’s huge,’” says Boddie. “He’s the best I ever saw play.” Indeed, Boddie recalls Malone scoring 40 points in a game Boddie announced.
From 1990 to 2010 Boddie announced football games at Lee Hedges Stadium before giving way to Demirdjian. Boddie also announced games for the Shreveport Pirates of the Canadian Football League in 1994 and 1995, as well as drag races at Red River Raceway from 1998 to 2003.
But Boddie seems most fond of his time as announcer of the Independence Bowl. “Working there was an absolute blast,” he says.
That’s not to say there weren’t challenges over the years. On December 31, 2000, Boddie was the PA announcer for what has become known as the “Snow Bowl” because of a winter storm that rolled into town just before the game between Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
“I do my own spotting, just use a pair of binoculars,” Boddie says, “but when the game started there was so much snow on the field that I couldn’t see the yard markers. Gus Johnson from ESPN was sitting in the next booth and he must have had a good spotter. So when Johnson would say, ‘First down Texas A&M on the Mississippi State 30,’ I’d just repeat it. I repeated the ESPN calls all the way through the first quarter.”
When asked what makes a good game announcer, Boddie says, “Just enjoy sports, and know the sports.”
By Jim Freeman