Voice of the Pack

November 10, 2009

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Ed Funkhouser really knows how to work a crowd.

He does so every Saturday in the fall when NC State plays a home football game at Carter-Finley Stadium.

On game days, Funkhouser, the stadium’s public address announcer, can get nearly 60,000 Wolfpack fans to yell “first down” in unison by simply inflecting his voice, measuring his tone and pacing his delivery.

“Fifteen-yard gain on the play,” Funkhouser says, “and that’s good enough for another Wolfpack…”

“FIRST DOWN!” the crowd responds.

The cheer has become a fixture at Wolfpack home games since Funkhouser first took over the microphone 10 years ago. Later, while back in his office in Tompkins Hall, Funkhouser, a veteran communication faculty member and associate dean in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, explains that the popularity of the cheer is based on concepts of “paralanguage,” which refers to the manipulation of one’s voice during communication to achieve a desired effect.

“People think I announce the games because I love football,” Funkhouser says. “Well, I do love football, but I do this most of all because I really love communication. I enjoy the process of engaging audiences, and I’ll do it for as long as I can.”

In fact, being behind a microphone is all Funkhouser says he’s ever wanted to do.

Dr. Ed. Funkhouser

By the time he was a teenager, Funkhouser hosted his own sports show called “Eddie’s Corner” at his hometown radio station in Mount Jackson, Va., where he covered news and high school sports in the region. While working on his bachelor’s degree in business administration at Madison College (now James Madison University) in Harrisonburg, Va., Funkhouser also worked five days a week as a disc jockey.

“I don’t know how I graduated in four years,” Funkhouser says. “I passed my classes and made OK grades, but I could have done a lot better if I hadn’t been working at the station all the time. But it’s what I love to do.”

Shortly after joining the faculty at NC State in 1977, Funkhouser became the announcer for the marching band and held that post until 1999. That’s when C.A. Dillon, the longtime public address announcer for NC State football and men’s basketball games, approached Funkhouser about taking over the announcing duties for football. Funkhouser has been behind the microphone on game days at Carter-Finley Stadium ever since, and he also serves as the public address announcer at NC State women’s basketball games.

“Communication is all about conveying information, and there’s a lot of information to convey during the course of a football or basketball game,” Funkhouser says. “Announcing these games gives me an opportunity to be behind the microphone. I’ve done it for so long that being behind the microphone is just part of who I am.

“I would miss it greatly if I didn’t have that opportunity.”