A year ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to shadow Pete Friedmann, the voice of the Northwestern University Marching Band (NUMB), on a typical game day. We had won the experience through a silent auction.
As a NUMB member way back when, I had always admired Friedmann from afar as his voice boomed confidently somewhere through the air to announce NUMB’s show programs. But I also knew that Friedmann was easily approachable with a winning smile and welcome handshake. Therefore, I was excited for the opportunity to have an up-close encounter with the man behind the voice.
For a night game against Duke University with a start time of 7 p.m., we met up with Friedmann at 3:30 p.m. to attend NUMB’s final rehearsal at the indoor practice facility. There, they did run-throughs of pregame and a Broadway halftime show including an arrangement from “Hamilton.”
Next, we wove around the perimeter of the building to a walkway where the band greeted the arriving football players with fight songs as they made their way into the stadium. Then because of a special singer for “The Star Spangled Banner” that day, we followed the band into Ryan Field itself to participate in a sound check with the guest artist.
Afterward, Friedmann gave us a personal tour of the press box, showing us where he sits and speaks during the game and where television reporters and other journalists relay their stories.
After a casual and quick lunch with the band, we followed Friedmann and NUMB to Wildcat Alley where NUMB performs a standstill concert to fire up the fans. We hurried back to the press box just a few minutes before pregame.
We watched the game from our special seats, catching up with Friedmann throughout the next few hours to watch him make announcements in his “fishbowl.” We stayed all the way until the post-game concert at nearly 11 p.m.
While we may think that band announcers have an easy job, the experience with Friedmann that day opened my eyes to all the different game-day activities in which they participate. It’s a long, grueling day packed with back-to-back-to-back appearances.
I decided that I shouldn’t be the only one getting this behind-the-scenes look. That day with Friedmann inspired this issue’s “The Voice” feature. The story profiles Friedmann as well as three additional familiar voices from the high school, college, indoor, and drum corps activities. In the article, you’ll see that these individuals provide not only the voice but also the heart behind the marching arts. Hope you enjoy getting to know them as much as I did.
Christine Ngeo Katzman
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief