To his left was a bag overflowing with Ricola cough drops. To his right were the rosters of the Northeastern University and College of William & Mary men’s basketball teams. As Charlie Bame-Aldred sat at the scorer’s table for an afternoon matchup at Matthews Arena, he thought back on his time as a public address announcer.
“I’m happy to do it, because I’d be sitting there [in the stands] if I wasn’t sitting here announcing,” he said. “Why not at least be part of the action and be able to participate and help make it an exciting environment, not that it really needs it? It’s already exciting, but I just try to add as much as I can.”
Bame-Aldred, 55, is an avid sports fan, so when he was hired to teach accounting at Washington State University in 2002, he went on a mission to get involved with the athletic department. He decided he wanted to be the public address announcer for the Cougars’ athletic teams, despite never having announced a sporting event before. After months of persuading the sports information director to give him a chance, he got his first assignment – a women’s volleyball game.
“I went and did a lot of research on volleyball terms,” Bame-Aldred said with a smile. “The first game I did, I was uncertain about what I could or could not do.”
Over the years, however, he developed confidence as he continued announcing, and he expanded his range to track and field, baseball and other sports (though he revealed that volleyball remains his favorite sport to announce).
In 2007, though, Bame-Aldred decided to head back east. He is a Franklin, Mass., native and actually attended Northeastern as an engineering major for a short period of time.
“I fell in love with cheap scotch versus going to class,” he said of his experience as a student at Northeastern. “I squandered my opportunity for a Northeastern experiential degree. When the opportunity to come back here became available, I jumped at it. In 1980, I needed someone to grab me by the ear and tell me I was screwing up my opportunity. I came to Northeastern to help those students understand the importance of the Northeastern experience.”
So he arrived back at Northeastern – this time as a professor – and it was only right for him to bring his passion for sports and his booming PA voice with him from Washington. An executive professor of accounting, Bame-Aldred now spends his evenings and weekends announcing Northeastern sports, from field hockey to basketball to ice hockey.
“I’m always testing the boundary of what I can do, and people will come over and say, ‘You’ve got to stop doing that,’” he said. “I’m fine with that, but I’m always going to try and figure out how I can push the envelope a little bit more.”
For example, Bame-Aldred used to announce the starters in hockey games by stating the visiting players’ names in a dull monotone before announcing the Northeastern players in a strong, thundering voice, before the athletic department higher-ups asked him to take a more balanced approach.
“It was hilarious,” he said. “But listen, I serve at the discretion of the athletic director, and if the athletic director says, ‘Stop doing that,’ I’m going to stop doing that.”
Still, he continues to take risks, and his passion doesn’t go unnoticed by the fans. Bame-Aldred is well-known across campus, and he waves and smiles at everyone from the students to the arena security staff before the game.
“You can feel Charlie’s energy in the whole building, and it translates up into the DogHouse,” said Ashley Demirali, one of the leaders of Northeastern’s student section. “He gets us excited at the start of the game, letting his personality through in his announcing.”
Much like his announcing style, Bame-Aldred brings that same passion to his classroom, although he did mention he has gone to class with a strained voice on the days after particularly dramatic games.
“My classroom is not subdued,” he said. “I have a basic educational philosophy. Unconscious people do not learn. My goal is to entertain and educate. I call [it] ‘edutainment.’ Each week I put on a variety of shows.”
From the classroom to the arena, Bame-Aldred believes his jovial spirit is part of what keeps everyone engaged.
“I still mess things up a lot, but no one really cares,” he said.
“It’s really not the words that I’m saying or the pronunciation. It’s the intonation and the excitement. People really aren’t focused on the little details. They’re focused on the bigger picture that somebody, at least, is enthusiastic about what just happened.”
His greatest gratification comes from contributing an atmosphere that leaves an impact on students during their time at Northeastern, as well as after they graduate.
“[Alumni] can walk in and smell all the smells from Matthews Arena and see the environment…but then they also hear the voice boom out, and it brings them back to when they were students,” he says. “However meaningless or meaningful it is, having that connection for alumni to come back and just feel like, ‘I remember what it was like as a kid. I remember when I was a freshman here, and I remember that crazy, crazy bald guy doing what he was doing, and he’s still doing it.’”
Northeastern’s 69-67 win over William & Mary turned out to be thrilling in itself that afternoon, but the vigor with which Bame-Aldred announced the game was evidence of his love for the Northeastern community. And as the clock ran out, along with his supply of Ricola cough drops, the crazy bald guy at the scorer’s table signed off with his go-to exclamation that has come to define the conclusion of Northeastern sporting events.
“Please drive home safely, and as always, GO HUSKIES!”
Photo by Brian Bae