Glenn Johnson is celebrating his 26th year as the “Voice of the Cougs” and he has the press pass to prove it. Along with a wall collage of broadcast-station photos from WSU students past, Johnson’s office proudly displays press passes from his 26 years of service to WSU Athletics.
“I thought this was his 25th year,” said Rod Commons, assistant director for sports information. “I was wrong — Glenn still has his press pass from 1980!”
Johnson came to WSU in the fall of 1979 as a professor of broadcast communication. Since then he has immersed himself in WSU and the Pullman community. In addition to his duties with the university, Johnson is the city of Pullman’s mayor and a volunteer spokesperson for the fire and police departments — among other things.
Sometimes he combines duties. Johnson once conducted a broadcast class from the scene of a 12-hour standoff between police and an armed man at a Pullman nursing home.
Shortly after arriving in Pullman, Johnson came to Commons’ attention because of his voice.
“When I heard the guy, I knew he would be really good,” Commons said. “He has a great voice for PA (public address). You want the message to come through; his voice is deep and resonating.
“I think Glenn is one of the best I’ve run into. There are a lot of frustrated radio people (in the athletics field) who talk too much — the people in the arena are watching the game, the PA announcer doesn’t need to do a play by play.”
Doing the public address does not mean simply showing up on game day. It entails watching team scrimmages, arriving on game day one to two hours ahead of time, taking notes on the starting lineup, meeting the visiting team’s sports information director, and ensuring proper name pronunciation of the players.
“That’s the fun thing about it,” said Johnson. “You have to stay current. That’s the nice thing about working with students.”
Despite the praise Johnson receives for his work with Cougar Athletics, he remains in awe of the programs for which he announces.
“I am so happy we got (basketball coach) Dick Bennett. We were in a real hole with (Paul) Graham. The new crew is just outstanding!” he said. “Bennett not only wants good players, but he wants smart kids too. He has really turned this program around.”
So what does Johnson want for the basketball program?
“I just wish the public would come out more,” he said. “You’ve got a great team and the privilege of watching one of the finest minds in the basketball profession coach. Not only is he a good coach, but he runs a class operation — he doesn’t use any foul language and he is brutally honest.”
With 25 years behind him, Johnson’s service to Cougar Athletics remains steadfast. Not only does he do the public address for basketball and football, he also helps recruit for athletics. This usually means giving up some part of a Sunday to talk with prospective players.
“He spends countless hours helping recruit,” said Commons. “He’s a real credit not only to the communication school and athletics, but to this university.”
Indeed. Who of us can say we’ve been long at WSU and don’t know Johnson — or at least recognize the voice of the Cougs?