UW Husky Marching Band E-news
October 2010  |  Return to issue home

Frazer Cook—50 Years with the Husky Band!

One of the real privileges of my tenure as director has been to work with such a dedicated staff. This year marks a very special anniversary for one of our beloved staff members as it is the 50th season in which Frazer Cook has been the golden voice of Husky Marching Band. Since stepping up to the microphone prior to the second game of the 1961 football season, he has announced over 600 halftime and pregame performances. Recently I sat down with Frazer and asked him to reminisce about his incredible career with the band.

HMB announcer Frazer Cook
HMB announcer Frazer Cook

Q: For those who do not know, would you regale our readers with the interesting story of how you became announcer?
A: The year before I began announcing for the Husky Band there was an announcer who was less than satisfactory. The announcer never wanted to write a script and most of the time he ad-libbed the show and even came out with such spur-of-the-moment memorable lines as: "There goes the Husky Marching Band making it down the field." Bill Cole, who was the director, had finally reached a state of exasperation; Mr. Cole told the announcer that his services would no longer be needed and began a search for a new announcer.

Mr. Cole tried out several people from the radio-television department, but did not find what he wanted. Noel Abrahamson, who was one of Mr. Cole’s graduate student assistants, recommended a local English and drama teacher—who taught at my high school—be the next Husky Marching Band announcer. Although this teacher spoke before his classes everyday and had appeared in many dramatic productions on stage, he had never spoken to a live audience of 50,000 people and became so overwhelmed with the situation that he almost passed out on the sideline at his very first football game as the band’s announcer. As such, Mr. Cole continued his search for an announcer.

In my opinion it was a shame that the teacher was unable to continue doing the band announcing because he had a wonderful voice and excellent style. The band still had no luck finding a replacement, so they called upon the English and drama teacher again and asked him if he had any suggestions. While I was in high school I had worked extensively with this teacher as I was in almost every dramatic production that was presented during my high school career. For some reason he suggested me and even called me in my dorm room at the UW to encourage me to try out. I told him that I would probably not get the job since I had not done any of that type of work and they probably would not take me seriously because, at that time I was a math major. Anyway, he finally talked me into trying out and I went down Saturday morning and, believe it or not, they hired me. In retrospect, they may not have hired me because of my great artistry, but rather from a case of desperation inasmuch as I tried out at 9 a.m. and they had a game to do three hours later. Little did I realize it would turn into a longterm relationship.

Q: You have seen an incredible five decades worth of Husky Marching Band pregame and halftime shows under three of the band's four directors.  Are there any that really stick out in your mind over the others?
A: As far as the shows are concerned, they all seemed pretty good to me. I suppose they did vary in quality, but basically they all seemed pretty good. Ones that might stick out in my mind are probably more related to things from my personal standpoint, such as coping with the weather as I did for the first 33 years in which I announced from down on the field. Others might relate to special guests, such as the time I introduced Bob Hope at halftime.

Q: Frazer, it is incredible that you have not missed a single game during your years as announcer. Were there ever any Saturdays that you woke up sick thinking your streak was going to come to an end?
A: I never had any specific thoughts about my streak coming to an end, but there were at least three times (one was a Rose Bowl) where I had a moderate, or severe, case of laryngitis and didn’t know whether I would get through the show before my voice failed. There certainly were times at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday where I would look out my window to see 38-degree weather with torrents of rain coming down and driven by a 27-mph wind, but I never considered calling in sick. I guess the best answer to the question is, when your job consists of only six or seven days of work a year, it is easy to have a good attendance record.

Q: Since the September 11, 2010 Syracuse game—which officially marked your 50th year as the voice of the Husky Band, did you find yourself reminiscing at all during that game?
A: Not really because one is always busy concentrating on the show, the timing, etc., but I do recall thinking for a moment as I began the first announcement at pregame, that at least from a personal perspective, it was a small moment of history.

Q: You have undoubtedly had some interesting encounters in the press boxes of the many stadiums over the years. Do you have a favorite story?
A: No favorite stories, but there certainly were some difficult times. When they find out that you are "the band announcer from the other school" it does not impress them at all, and there were many times when for some reason or another I would not receive my credentials. As a result, there were many times where I had to talk my way into the other school's "sacred" press box and there were a few times where I had to undertake a heated argument on the matter. I also recall a couple of times when I finally shoved my way past a security guard and figured I would deal with the fallout later.

Q: As you know, song titles have gotten more "interesting" over the years. Are there any that stick out in your mind that gave you fits?
A: There are several that stick out in my mind, but they are so irritating that I am not going to glorify, or even recognize them by mentioning the titles in this otherwise respectable publication. Besides, mentioning them would only give recognition to the fact that I found them irritating and that would probably give satisfaction to the directors who, in a twisted moment of humor, picked those titles just to irritate me.

Q: Since the announcer at the University of Pittsburgh is the only college band announcer with more years at the microphone than you, if given the opportunity, is there anything you'd like to convey to him?
A: I would like to know if he ever missed a game. I also would be happy to assist him with retirement planning.

Q: What's the worst movie you have ever been forced to watch while on a long bus ride with the band?
A: There certainly is a large collection from which to choose, but as the worst, I might hone in on the one whose title escapes me at the moment, but was centered around a giant python-like serpent slithering its way through someplace like the ruins of Rome and one by one gobbling up otherwise innocent bystanders.

Q: What has it meant to you personally to be involved with the band all these years?
A: It has been a really wonderful association. I have always looked at my position as being roughly equivalent to the guy who paints the lines on the field, or hauls the equipment into the storage room after the game, etc.: necessary, but not really noteworthy. The really meaningful part has been working with the three directors, the adult staff, and all of the band members who, year after year, are always fully dedicated to what they are doing and as a result, do it really well. As I have said many times, I can think of a lot of college bands with whom I would not want to be associated, but working with the Husky Marching Band has always been truly an honor, a privilege and a pleasure.    

October 2010  |  Return to issue home

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