Inauguration Day will sound a bit different this year without Charlie Brotman behind the microphone at America’s biggest political extravaganza. Brotman, 89, has announced every inaugural parade since President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second term in 1956.
And he was hoping to do the same for the 45th president Jan. 20. But President-elect Donald Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee has tapped a new lead announcer, instead naming Brotman “Announcer Chairman Emeritus.”
“I’m disappointed,” Brotman said. “I know I can do it. I know that I’ve done it many many times. They ask me every time and it’s such an honor.”
An inaugural committee official told Brotman in an email this week that the group would also offer him a prime seat at the parade and honor him for his decades of gratis service.
This inauguration, Steve Ray, a D.C.-based freelance announcer and audio engineer, will take the lead.
“First and foremost, on behalf of the PIC Staff we want to thank you for your service to this country as the Lead Announcer for the Inaugural Parade,” the email to Brotman read. “There is no question that you are a Washington Institution and a National Treasure.”
Brotman, a Washington native, was an announcer for the old Washington Senators baseball team and was also the voice of what is now D.C.’s Citi Open tennis tournament for 46 tournaments. He said is honored by the Trump inauguration committee’s recognition of his work, though he has not yet spoken to them about details and is not sure whether he will attend.
Ray, 58, who was a volunteer for the Trump campaign, has worked for local radio stations and has served as the promotional voice on commercials and segments for the Washington Nationals baseball team. He described Brotman as a “legend” in the broadcasting world.
“All of us think of Charlie as as much of the Washington landscape as any building,” Ray said. “I’m on top of the world. From my point of view, I am not filling his shoes, I’m not taking his place, I just happen to be the guy who’s next.”
Each inauguration, there are a handful of announcers along the parade route. But Brotman has been the guy who announces the parade to the president, from a perch inside the media viewing area directly across the street from the presidential reviewing stand. He says it’s not an easy job; in addition to announcing which group is approaching the president in the parade, he has to fill lag time with presidential trivia and banter.
“Just because there is a stop in the parade, doesn’t mean we have to stop having a good time,” Brotman said. “Being the parade announcer — you are informing and entertaining. You don’t want to just let it lapse into silence.”
A representative from the President Inaugural Committee did not return a request for comment.
Emily Heil contributed to this report.