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After 15 Inaugurations, Why Brotman's Voice Won't Be Heard This Year


All right. As Inauguration Day approaches, we are marking the end of an era. It's the era of Charlie Brotman known for 60 years as the president's announcer.


CHARLIE BROTMAN: Mr. President, my name is Charlie Brotman. I had the pleasure of introducing your dad and it's a similar honor introducing you as the 43rd president...

GREENE: That is Brotman announcing President George W. Bush in 2001. Brotman not only introduced the president but also the bands and the floats as the inaugural parade made its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol.


He did this for 10 presidents at 15 inaugurations. The regular gig started with a chance encounter back in 1956. Brotman was stadium announcer for the Washington Senators when President Dwight Eisenhower threw out the first pitch.

BROTMAN: And we became 15-minute buddies, the president and this ordinary guy, Charlie Brotman.

GREENE: Fifteen-minute buddies. Well, later that fall, Brotman got a phone call.

BROTMAN: And the lady says, are you the announcer who announced President Eisenhower? I says, yes, ma'am. She says, thank goodness. The president has had everybody at the White House going crazy trying to find you. You must have really impressed him because he wants to know if you're available to introduce him again.

GREENE: Yeah, he was available. Brotman agreed immediately.

MARTIN: (Unintelligible) Four years later, he got another call from the incoming Kennedy administration.

BROTMAN: Mr. Brotman, we've never, ever been involved with a parade before.

MARTIN: They asked to pick his brain. They ended up picking him.

BROTMAN: That's how I happened to go from president to president to president to president.

GREENE: President to president to president for six decades actually. A Nixon inaugural was especially memorable. At one point, the president waded on to Pennsylvania Avenue and word got out that he was signing autographs.

BROTMAN: And we're talking about thousands and thousands of people, and they would have crushed the president.

GREENE: The announcer quickly ad libbed.

BROTMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, the parade is over.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Brotman has memories of president after president, Republicans and Democrats, but this year, Brotman, now 89 years old, got an email informing him his services would no longer be needed.

BROTMAN: I wish I could tell you why.

GREENE: Well, Steve Ray, a broadcaster and Trump supporter will replace him. When Brotman first got this news, he was hurt. He says he's now over it. The Trump team offered him a new title - announcer chairman emeritus - and also a prime seat at the event. He turned down that seat and will instead join Washington's local NBC station as their special inaugural commentator. And don't forget that NPR and reporters from stations around the country will be live on Friday reporting on that inauguration. Listen live and watch a live fact-check on the inaugural address at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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