His nickname, “The Voice”, is on his license plate. His signature harness racing announcer voice is known by everyone in North America and throughout the world who has ever listened to harness racing. And most recently he called his 165,000th race.
He’s Roger Huston, the voice of The Meadows Racetrack in Washington, PA., and today is the 30th anniversary of The Meadows going live with its television broadcast show. And Roger has been there and hosted the show in nearly every performance since its inception.
“It was on Wednesday, October 16,” Huston said, “My 165,000th race call was the third race and it was won by Tomasso and driver Mike Wilder in 1:58.3. It was an $11,000 Claiming Trot.”
Most people would not be able to recall such data in a moment’s notice. That’s not the case for Roger Huston. His memory of racing dates, events, horse names, drivers, trainers, records, the whole nine yards, is part of his trait as one of the best racetrack announcers of any horse breed in history. But where does keeping all those statistics both horse related and personal come in?
“I have always been a stats person,” Huston explained. “It started from my teenage days watching the Cleveland Browns. I then started keeping stats during the game for the Sports Information Director at Wilmington College and the Mid Ohio Conference. Keeping Wilmington and League stats and writing stories for newspapers and the schools in Wilmington, Cedarville, Ashland, Defiance, Bluffton, Ohio Northern and Findlay.
“So when I started announcing,” Huston added, “I also started keeping track of the races and time trials and a complete itinerary for each year. 128 different venues I have called races at and 165,128 races going into today’s card at The Meadows.”
Huston is also very proud of his records as an announcer. Records that will most likely never be broken as Huston, age 71, has no plans on retiring any time soon. He has also called races at 37 different locations for remote broadcasts of the Meadows races. At these venues Huston actually called the races at the Meadows from the other tracks, watching them on television.
“My first remote broadcast was pretty unique,” Huston said. “I called the races at the Meadows from my parent’s house in Xenia, Ohio. It was their 50th wedding anniversary. It was covered by two newspapers and three Dayton TV stations.
“I once called a race from a viewer’s swimming pool.” Huston recalled. “We did a remote from the residence of horse owner Jim Schamming. They had a party that night with about 35 people and we did the whole TV show from his living room and the swimming pool.”
I asked Roger if that was the most unique venue to have called a race from, but he shook his head, laughed and said no way.
“Aside from horse races,” Roger said, “I have called actual baby races, pig races, turtle races, you name it but one of the most unique races I called was from 2,000 feet above the Three Rivers in a Medivac helicopter and it was broadcast by a Pittsburgh radio station. The race was between the inclines of Mt. Washington and Duquesne. It was trolley cars racing down the incline.”
When it comes to different racing venues, Huston has done most of them. He has called at 37 different county fairgrounds in Ohio alone. Then there are the fairs in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota and more.
But Roger, you forgot New Jersey! Only because this reporter was there, working at Freehold Raceway and I got to co-host the show that night with Roger Huston. It was great. We were set up in the hallway at the restaurant entrance, an eight foot table, head sets, one 19” TV monitor, broadcast equipment and tons of Roger’s stat books and race programs. People stayed and watched us all night. They wanted to personally meet Roger and get his picks for the night. But most exciting was to see Roger call the Meadows races on TV yet it sounded just like he was at his home track.
As for calling races outside the USA, Roger has done that too. He has called at tracks all over Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Wales and even in Australia.
“And to this day I still keep records each year,” Huston said. “I use them for the TV show which I am so proud is celebrating its 30th anniversary today! Our first show was Tuesday, November 1, 1983. Jerry Connors was my co-host for the first two shows and then we had various drivers, trainers, owners and caretakers on the show.”
It is an amazing feat for Roger Huston and he never tires from traveling to remote fairs and events to call races. It’s what he lives for and enjoys.
By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com