By Rick Griffin
One day a few years ago, Bryan Main was ordering his favorite coffee at the Starbucks on Murphy Canyon Road in Kearny Mesa, near the iHeart Media studios, the home of eight radio stations in San Diego. A dad and his 12-year-old son inside Starbucks recognized Main’s voice as the public address announcer at San Diego State University men’s basketball games played at Viejas Arena.
“Right there inside the coffee shop, this dad asked me to announce D.J. Gay’s name for his son,” Main told Times of San Diego. “I said let’s go outside and I was happy to oblige.”
Sadly, after more than 2,000 games over a 35-year span, Main’s career as one of San Diego’s most active PA announcers in San Diego sports history has come to a close.
The native San Diegan decided a few months ago to retire from PA announcing, although he is keeping his day job as production coordinator at iHeart, where he has worked since 1998. At iHeart, he oversees day-to-day commercial production operations, which includes working with sales reps and on-air talent.
He also voices commercials for national iHeart clients. And he’s in his 22nd year of co-hosting the syndicated “Garden America” show, airing live from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Pacific time, on 50 U.S. radio stations, including KNSN 1240-AM in San Diego.
“I’ve seen and done just about everything that could be experienced as a PA announcer, such as sharing in various championships, hoisting trophies and being part of special moments,” said Main, 64. “Plus, I also wanted to spend more time at home at night with my wife Dayna. Also, after working 8-to-10 hours a day at iHeart and then adding another three-hours-plus calling a basketball game can be tough on your voice.”
“During this COVID year, I’ve realized I made the right decision because I would feel uncomfortable announcing to an empty arena since most of my energy comes from the electricity generated by the fans,” he added.
Main’s prolific career as PA announcer is impressive, including 144 consecutive Aztec football games. His resume includes: Aztecs basketball, 20 years (2000-2020); Aztecs football, 18 years (2000-2018); Holiday Bowl, 27 years (1988-2015); Poinsettia Bowl, four years (2010-2013); San Diego Sockers, 15 years (1994-1998); San Diego Gulls, five years (198-2001), San Diego Barricudas, women’s professional roller hockey, three years (1993-1996); San Diego Spirit, women’s professional soccer, three years (2001-2003).
He also has announced games for the San Diego Chargers and the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.
Main graduated from Mission Bay High School in 1974 and from North Arizona University on a hockey scholarship, where he majored in telecommunications with an emphasis on radio and television broadcasting. He considers himself one of the few Americans to receive a full-ride hockey scholarship in the 1970s.
Main, who has worked radio jobs in the San Diego market since 1978, was mentored in the skills of PA announcing by Bruce Binkowski, another tireless San Diego PA announcer with the Chargers (1977-1999), Padres (1986-1999), hockey Mariners (1977-1999 and Aztecs football and basketball (1980-2000). “Bink” retired in 2015 and relocated to Montana.
“Bruce groomed me and gave me my start. He taught me when in doubt about a certain play or situation, say nothing,” said Main. “My goal has always been to give the audience the information and let the game sell itself. A good PA announcer is really an edited-version of a play-by-play announcer. He knows when to get excited and involved and when to stay out of the way.”
In 2001, when Binkowski traded in PA duties to begin a 14-year run as executive director of the San Diego Bowl Association (the nonprofit overseeing the Holiday Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl college football games), Main became San Diego’s go-to PA announcer.
“I’ve had so many highlights in my announcing career. Adding up the years for all the teams I’ve announced for, it comes out to 99,” Main said. “I’ll never forget an exhibition game for the Chicago Bulls in 1992 when Michael Jordan was at his peak, or the 1988 Holiday Bowl when Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State scored five touchdowns against Wyoming.”
“I’m a former hockey player so I really enjoyed the NHL games. Of course, my 20 years with Aztecs basketball ranks near the top and my all-time favorite name to announce is D.J. Gay,” he said.
Gay played 140 games for the Aztecs from 2007 to 2011. “He had a name that just rolled off the tongue,” Main said. “During the starting line-ups, I announced him as, `Number 23, Deeeeee…Jaaaaayyyyyy…Gaaaaayyyyy.’ It became so popular that when I got to his name, the crowd of 12,500 would step in and say his name in unison. It was an incredible feeling.”
Gay, a guard and team captain his senior season, led the Aztecs to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, and he was named first-time all-conference. After playing professional basketball in Europe, Gay returned to San Diego to coach high school basketball at Victory Christian Academy in Chula Vista before his appointment in 2020 at La Jolla Country Day School.
Larry Himmel Foundation Helping Restaurants Amid COVID Closure
The Larry Himmel Neighborhood Foundation, a nonprofit named after the late TV personality who spent 35 years telling uplifting and humorous stories on KFMB-Channel 8, has announced a restaurant assistance program that will help restaurants that stay open during the COVID-19 shutdown.
According to Miles Himmel, son of Larry Himmel and foundation founder, generous San Diegans donated more than $20,000 to the foundation during Christmas week for the foundation’s restaurant assistance program.
“After rolling out the program just a few days before Christmas, the response has been tremendous,” Himmel told Times of San Diego. “We’ve received donations ranging from $10 to $5,000. People have been very generous because they understand the need.”
Himmel said recent grants from the foundation included $5,000 apiece to the Uptown Tavern in Hillcrest, The Landing Strip in Otay Mesa and Tavern at the Vogue in Chula Vista. He said the eateries will use the grants to cover outdoor equipment expenses, utility bills and employee needs. He said additional grants will be announced this week.
“The foundation believes that San Diego restaurants have been unfairly treated during the pandemic deserve assistance,” said a statement from the foundation. “Restaurants are encouraged to apply for assistance, including assistance for any fines they may have occurred by remaining open.”
Restaurants were ordered closed except for takeout amid a surge in coronavirus infections that has led to over 1,400 deaths in San Diego County. Many outbreaks of the disease have been traced to restaurants and bars.
iHeart Radio Raised Money for Rady Children’s Hospital
The eight iHeart San Diego radio stations participated in a two-day “iHeart Rady Children’s San Diego Hospital Give-a-thon” on Dec. 9 and 10. According to iHeart, more than $503,000 was donated by listeners who made contributions via phone, text and an online portal. Donations will help fund lifesaving technology and research, as well as provide a safety net for children with little or no medical insurance, said iHeart.
On-air talent from the eight stations broadcast remotely from the hospital and conducted interviews featuring stories and experiences of former patients, physicians and parents and families of patients under treatment at the hospital.
“I am in awe of the generosity we witnessed from our audiences,” said Melissa Forrest, president, iHeart San Diego. “This holiday season is like nothing we have seen in generations but the goodness in peoples’ hearts shown through for the children at Rady.”
Participating iHeart stations included KMYI-FM Star 94.1, KHTS-FM Channel 933, KGB 101.5-FM, KGB 760-AM, KIOZ-FM Rock 105.3, KSSX-FM Jam’n 95.7, KOGO-AM News Radio 600 and KLSD-AM Fox Sports 1360.
Cox Charities Distributes $100,000 to 10 Nonprofits
Cox Charities, the employee-funded nonprofit of media company Cox Communications, ended 2020 with a donation of $10,000 apiece to 10 San Diego-based nonprofits. Grantees included Alpha Project, Casa de Amparo, Cesar Chavez Service Club, Coastal Roots Farm, Girls Inc., Just in Time for Foster Youth, Neighborhood House Association, Promises2Kids, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, and Urban League of San Diego County.
A Cox spokesperson said Cox employees selected the grantees based on COVID-19 relief, the digital divide and social justice efforts. Employees who donate to the nonprofit are given the opportunity to vote on organizations to receive grants. Employee donations to Cox Charities are matched by Cox Communications, the largest division of Cox Enterprises, a family-owned business founded in 1898 by Ohio Gov. James M. Cox.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.