And That's Another ... Cougar ... First Down

PULLMAN -- Keith Jackson may be the voice of college football and Bob Robertson the undisputed bard of the crimson airwaves. But to the truest Cougar fans -- the ones who actually plant their rear ends in Martin Stadium, the Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum and, on Saturday, Seahawks Stadium -- there is but one voice. The Voice.

Clear, mellifluous. Full of personality. You might even say it's a bit sassy.

CNN once saw fit to cap a sports report with a clip from the player introductions at a Cougar basketball game.

Why? Because The Voice took a crowd-pleasing eternity (7.2 seconds according to the CNN timer) to belt out the name of star Cougar guard Benieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Seltzerrrrrrrr.

And who could ever forget the forgettable 1995 grid season when The Voice took great delight in calling the name of Cougar running back Frank Madu.

Why? Because when The Voice bellowed "Frank Maaaaaa . . .," the Martin Stadium faithful dutifully finished it off with "duuuuuu."

"What can I say? I love audience participation," says The Voice, otherwise known as Glenn Johnson. "I think people not only want to watch the game, but to be entertained along the way."

He's one of the nation's premier broadcast communications professors. His former students -- spread everywhere from ESPN and NBC to KOMO and KGW -- stay in lifelong contact. His dogged fundraising efforts have brought WSU tens of thousands of dollars in new broadcast equipment.

But to legions of Cougar fans, he is first and foremost The Voice.

When ex-Oregon hoop coach Jerry Green left Eugene for Tennessee, one of his first orders of business was to call WSU.

The reason? He wanted a tape of Johnson doing player introductions, of course. It would be invaluable for Green in tutoring the Vols' lackluster P.A. man. If you want to maximize home-court advantage, he reasoned, you've got to Johnsonize the crowd.

So it's been at WSU since a sun-drenched September day in Spokane when San Jose State upset Jim Walden's Cougs 31-26. Little did anyone know that the new public address announcer with the network quality delivery would become a Palouse fixture.

Come Saturday, when WSU opens the 2002 campaign in Seattle against Nevada, the 58-year-old Johnson will be marking his 23rd season as the Cougar P.A. announcer.

He's called well more than 100 games in football and nearly 300 in basketball. He's out-distanced six head coaches, as well as four athletic directors -- including the last one, Rick Dickson, who threw water on Johnson's signature phrase, "And That's Anotherrrr . . . Cougar First Down."

Rest assured, the term should make a glorious debut in Seattle on Saturday.

Plain and simple, Johnson loves his weekend job.

If there was any doubt, a quick look at his office at the Murrow School of Communications confirms it. On one wall is the dog sled and parka poster that was part of the Rueben Mayes Heisman campaign in 1985. Another wall is adorned with the Cougar-head monogram, autographed by creator Randall Johnson. There's a photo of Seltzer. An Ike Fontaine button. An autographed Walden poster. And more.

Fittingly, one section of wall is devoted to the memory of his beloved daughter Karen. Five years ago, she and her husband Jeff were killed in a car accident en route to Pullman for Christmas.

Were it not for Karen and little brother Eric, you see, the rest of the stuff covering these walls would not be there. If not for them, Glenn Johnson wouldn't have come to be Pullman in the first place. The Voice would never have been.

Back in 1979, Johnson chucked his job as a radio station manager in Sacramento for the chance to cut his salary in half by taking a teaching job at WSU. For he and wife Kathy, though, it wasn't about money. It was about the kids. They wanted to raise them in a place where you didn't have to worry about crime or the schools or the person next door.

"This has been a great place for our family. Great schools and no traffic jams. I tell people my commute is 25 minutes - and that's if I walk to work," says Johnson, who also stays busy with the Pullman Chamber, the hospital board, and as public information officer for the Pullman Police and Fire departments.

And the rest is one great Cougar moment after another...

FAVORITE NAME TO ANNOUNCE: "No doubt about it: Bennie Seltzer is my all-time favorite. A real neat guy, too," says Johnson. "Craig Ehlo (Eeeeeeeeeeehloooo) was definitely No. 1 till Bennie came along. In football, Frank Madu was a great one. So was Donnie Sasa."

FONDEST FOOTBALL MEMORY: "A game when I wasn't doing the P.A.: the 1997 Apple Cup when we clinched the Rose Bowl," Johnson says. "My son Eric and I were sitting in the end zone at Husky Stadium and ran out onto the field to celebrate. We later went into the Cougar locker room. There were a lot of hugs. It was really something special."

FONDEST HOOPS MEMORY: "It would probably have to be Bryan Pollard's tip-in at the buzzer to beat UCLA 70-68 (in 1983). It was pandemonium. The backboard shattered. Great team. Great season."

WORST MEMORY: "Todd Marinovich leading USC on that maddening 90-yard drive with a minute left to beat the Cougars 18-17 in Mike Price's first year (1989)."

HOTTEST WATER: "A basketball game against USC when Kelvin Sampson was here. Unlike now, P.A. announcers in those days could talk when a player was shooting a free throw. Well, I was timing it just to the point that when this one SC player was about to release the ball I shouted 'shooting two.' Startles the holy krud out of him. The ball rockets off the rim. I was splitting a gut I was laughing so hard. The USC coach on the other hand just threw a fit. We won the game. I told Kelvin I deserved a stat in the box score for blocking a shot. Never have liked USC."

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