Meet John Tuite, the voice of sports at the University of Connecticut

John Tuite started making play-by-play calls to University of Connecticut basketball games as a kid in Storrs. He recorded the UConn band performing the national anthem on his new tape recorder — “to make it more realistic” — and then started calling mock games while tossing a basketball into a stroller.

Today, Tuite has spent decades recreating that childhood fantasy as the play-by-play announcer for the UConn men’s soccer team on the university’s radio station, WHUS, since 1982. He is also the public address announcer for all UConn men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, ice hockey and softball games. Tuite has covered thousands of UConn games in both PA and play-by-play capacity and was the PA announcer for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun for a decade.

“There’s probably no sport I haven’t done,” he says. “Field hockey, women’s lacrosse — I’ve even done course meets on a reserve basis. It’s a pretty good part-time job for a rabid sports fan.”

In a way, Tuite, 65 and still a resident of Storrs, lives his life behind a microphone. When he’s not working on a game – some weekends he announces two a day – he’s the morning news director at WILI-FM in Willimantic, where he also hosts a show called The Vinyl Frontier weekdays at 11 a.m

“They go hand in hand,” Tuite says of his day and evening/weekend jobs. “You have to work quickly and precisely under deadlines. They may be cousins ​​of each other.”

“I would follow it anyway. I might as well be sitting in the front row and fully committing to it.”

Unlike garrulous sports commentators, good PA announcers follow the less-is-more theory, according to Tuite. When broadcasting a game, “you have to name everyone on the radio who touches the ball. For the PA, your job is to A) provide all the information quickly and accurately, but also try to give the fans a better experience,” he says. “You’re less of a reporter and more of an enabler for fans to follow the game with ease. I just need to figure out who committed the foul or made the basket to do the public speaking job correctly. I do the main games, not the play-by-play. The more concise and concise I can be, the better the public address.

“It’s a good idea to keep it short, sweet and to the point because people get tired of hearing it,” he adds. “If I’m a fan of the place, I just want to hear the meat and potatoes what’s going on. My real job is to fill in the blanks of the who and what of the situation and let them enjoy the game on their own.

“There is no cheering in the press box,” Tuite continues, “but there is room for enthusiasm from the PA spokesman. It’s similar to a referee. As a referee, the best thing you can do is go unnoticed and blend in with the game.”

In preparation, Tuite collects the team rosters in advance – he’s already studying upcoming basketball teams in late summer – and comes to the stadium an hour before the game to check the pronunciation of the team members and any last-minute changes. Names, says Tuite, “can be one of the biggest hurdles, especially in football where you can be dealing with six or seven nationalities”. Having the right pronunciation and the right starting lineup is, he says, “one of those moments in the spotlight when you can’t go wrong.”

As a decades-long UConn sports spokesperson, Tuite has been a sideline participant in many of UConn’s historic sports moments. He lists a few: the 1999 game when UConn women’s basketball forward Swin Cash took a rebound from a foul shot and put it in the wrong basket; the 2013 men’s game against the University of Florida when Shabazz Napier threw a buzzer beater to give UConn the win; Kemba Walker’s buzzer-beater against Pitt in 2011, which gave UConn victory in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament; and the “entire 1990 Dream Team that was a magic carpet for all UConn fans and the start of Husky Mania”.

While Tuite says he has a “place in my heart” for every sport he touts, basketball will always have a particular sweet spot. He grew up within walking distance of campus and regularly attended basketball games and practices. “Who knew we’d be talking about national championships when it was a little Yankee conference when I was young? Also, the excitement of the crowd watching the game is probably the best in basketball.”

As he admits, it’s a dream job that he doesn’t want to give up anytime soon. “I would follow it anyway. I might as well be sitting in the front row and really getting into it,” he says. “It’s like horseback riding – you feel the pulse and the ups and downs of the games themselves. Everything from the excitement everyone remembers to the boring parts, even people walking to the exit – it’s all part of it .”


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