The Voices of Frisco SportsSep 01, 2022 ● By Stephen Hunt
Frisco is Sports City USA — a moniker reinforced by the fact that several professional sports teams are headquartered here including Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas; the Indoor Football League’s Frisco Fighters; Frisco Roughriders, Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers; and the National Basketball Association’s G-League team the Texas Legends.
When most fans think of these teams and attend games locally, it is the players who first come to mind. However, there are countless others working behind the scenes to support the teams and otherwise ensure that games and matches go off without a hitch.
These include the announcers at area stadiums and arenas whose job it is to relay details all of the exciting action before and during events, as well as broadcasters who call the games for radio or television audiences (and, in some cases, both).
Fans in the stands and those who watch or listen to broadcasts with any regularity may not know the announcers’ names or recognize their faces, but they likely are familiar with the smooth delivery of these experienced professionals who do more than merely provide play by plays: In fact, they are crucial in helping to connect and engage spectators.
In Frisco, we’re fortunate to have a highly talented group of announcers and broadcasters working to ensure that sports fans and viewers don’t miss a minute of the action. Frisco STYLE recently caught up with several of them and got the insider’s perspective about the incredible views from what can only be considered the best seat in the house.
FC DallasCarlos Alvarado | Mark Followill | Steve Davis
The FC Dallas broadcasting team consists of Carlos Alvarado, the team’s Spanish radio voice since the club’s inaugural 1996 season; television color analyst Steve Davis, considered one of the nation’s top soccer writers; and TV play-by-play announcer Mark Followill, the longtime TV voice of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. This trio has a level of experience that is nearly unmatched in Major League Soccer.
Alvarado began calling games when FC Dallas was the Dallas Burn and played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. “It has been a long and exciting 27 years,” Alvarado said. “I never thought that the journey would last so many years. I will always be grateful to” former Burn General Managers Billy Hicks and Andy Swift “for believing in me.”
He said seeing FC Dallas play for the 2010 MLS Cup in his most treasured memory because his favorite player, 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira, headlined the talented squad.
Alvarado has been a paragon for longevity as he has yet to miss a match in his 27 seasons on the radio. “Soccer or football is about passion. It’s about your feel for the game. After 27 seasons, I still love what I do,” he said. “To this day, I try to do it the best I can.”
Davis is a former soccer writer who first covered the sport in 1992 for the Dallas Morning News. After covering the 1994 World Cup, which included matches at the Cotton Bowl, he continued writing about the game and co-hosted a radio show on a local ESPN radio affiliate before calling FC Dallas games on radio beginning in 2014. Four years later, he pivoted to television.
“Whether you’re a writer, doing radio, podcasting or now on TV, at some point it’s all the same,” Davis said. “You’re telling stories. You’re providing narrative, hopefully in ways that educate people with good information wrapped in useful contexts. That’s what I like doing. It’s fun providing stories and useful information.”
Followill has been the Dallas Mavericks’ TV play-by-play announcer since 2005 and has called FC Dallas matches since 2012. The University of North Texas grad also called the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Olympic soccer in 2018 and 2021.
A longtime soccer fan who got his start as a fill-in public address announcer for Burn, he considers it an honor to call FC Dallas matches. “To get to call the games for the team in your hometown is a real thrill. ... They’ve had some great voices in the past with Craig Way, Brad Sham and the late Bobby Rhine. To follow in their footsteps is a really cool thing.”
Followill credits Davis’ excellent work as a color analyst for making FC Dallas TV broadcasts informative and entertaining. “He has an extraordinary perceptiveness about the game and does a fantastic job breaking things down on the air. I learn things listening to him and I’m quite sure our viewers at home learn things listening to Steve because he's got some excellent knowledge of the game and is able to convey that knowledge,” he said.
Texas LegendsMike Taylor
Anyone who has attended a Texas Legends game since the team’s inaugural 2010-11 season at Comerica Center is likely familiar with Mike Taylor’s voice.
Taylor, who worked in radio for 25 years and has the smooth delivery to prove it, has been the Legends’ only in-arena public address announcer since the franchise came to Frisco. He enjoys helping to keep the crowd engaged and is proud to play a central role in the Legends’ “three-ring circus.”
“The first two seasons were just wildly fun and chaotic. It still is a three-ring circus. There’s so much going on,” Taylor said. “It’s meant to be family friendly. Yes, there’s basketball; there’s so much for the kids to do as well. We’re the top draw in the whole NBA G-League and have been for several years.”
In the past, Taylor — who moved to Texas in 1989 from his native Michigan, where did broadcast and PA work for teams there — has called minor league hockey with the Dallas Freeze and Texas Tornado, soccer for FC Dallas and filled in for the Dallas Mavericks and NHL’s Dallas Stars. However, it has been his 13 years behind the microphone for the Legends that has allowed him to build a strong relationship with the team’s die-hard fans.
“The fans will come up to me, shake my hand and ask, `Did you see who got a call up to the NBA?’ We’ve had so many of our past players that are now playing in the NBA like (Dwight) Powell, who is starting for the Mavericks,” he said. “He started and played for us for a couple seasons. Just this most genuine, friendly, family-oriented kind of guy. … It’s a very humbling and sweet connection to see these players finally get their call up.”
A former athlete, Taylor’s love of sports began at a young age, and he views connecting with Legends fans as an extension of that passion. “I’d played sports all the way up to junior college,” he said. “I played basketball but was never anything close to being NBA G-League or NBA material, but it was one of my favorite sports.”
It was tough missing the 2019-2020 season when the Legends did not participate in the G-League bubble in Florida due to the pandemic, he said, but admits that break further raised his interest in following the NBA and G-League.
What words of wisdom does a seasoned pro such as Taylor have for young, up-and-coming PA announcers? “For me, it’s all about the show prep. … I try to come in there as prepared as possible because it’s one thing for me to read sponsor (messages) and everything, but it’s another thing for me to give the information to the fans that they may not know,” he said.
Ryan Medellin recently completed his first season broadcasting games for the Frisco Fighters indoor football team. However, the 2015 Texas Tech graduate has already built quite a resume, having worked on air at local ratings juggernaut The Ticket SportsRadio 1310 AM, filling in on Legends’ television broadcasts last season and announcing at area high school football games.
Medellin (whose great-grandfather is noted Mexican-American artist and sculptor Octavio Medellin) spent several seasons calling high school football for Little Elm High School before shifting to pregame and postgame work for Southlake Carroll High School. However, it was filling in on TV for the Legends last season that helped lead to his landing a gig with the Fighters — thanks to colleague Jared Sandler, the Legends’ TV play-by-play man, who also works radio for the Texas Rangers.
Medellin was Sandler’s backup last year for Texas Legends games, filling in for up to 15 of them. He said he “loved doing that, working with the G-League and the team that the Legends had. It was just a great scene.”
Although he’d never before called indoor football, he approached games for the Fighters with an open mind. Medellin said he went into the job “not really sure how it was going to go, but it has been an absolute blast. … IFL football is a ton of fun. It’s certainly a lot different than your normal football games. There’s a lot of scoring. Every play is a scoring play if you want it to be. Wild is the word I’d use, but it’s a very fun wild.”
When not calling Fighters games, he works full-time as a senior consultant in the AdTech/MarTech fields. “I work with companies on how to bring their marketing and advertising strategies into the 21st century,” he explained. “Completely different from broadcasting.”
On Saturdays, Medellin co-hosts a radio show on The Ticket. He calls it a dream come true to work for the station he grew up listening to. “Since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be in broadcasting. I grew up listening to The Ticket with my dad every day, so when I graduated from Tech, of course the first thing I did was reach out to The Ticket to see if there were any job openings.”
This fall, Medellin won’t be announcing high school football for the first time since graduating from college. That’s because he and his wife, Joy, are expecting their first child. He doesn’t want to miss a single second of that experience. “I had to make some decisions to get my Friday nights back,” he said. “I want to make sure in those early months with my son that I’m able to see him as much as I can while also trying to live my own dream” as a broadcaster.
Frisco RoughridersZach Bigley
Zach Bigley is in his second season as the Frisco RoughRiders’ radio play-by-play announcer.
He has enjoyed his time with the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate thus far because he’s already seen several players reach the big leagues including A.J. Alexy, Ezequiel Duran, Elier Hernandez, Josh Smith and Nick Snyder.
“I don’t think that there are many better broadcasting jobs in all of minor league baseball when you’re looking at the market size, the organization that you work for, the talent that is coming through the Rangers’ system that we get to see and just the incredible people I get to work with every day,” he said.
Born in Olympia, Washington, Bigley’s family moved to Oregon when he was 6 years old. As much as he loved baseball growing up, becoming a broadcaster didn’t enter his mind until his senior year of high school. “I love baseball (and) wanted to play in college. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t good enough, so I set my sights immediately on what’s the next-best thing and that was getting in the (announcer’s) booth,” he said.
During his sophomore year of college, he joined a student radio station “and was immediately able to hop on calling games. I started doing volleyball and a little high school football and basketball," and University of Oregon softball. "It was awesome. It was so incredible to get that opportunity.”
It was former RoughRiders radio play-by-play announcer Ryan Rouillard — who stepped away from the game in 2019 to become a firefighter in Colorado — who helped Bigley land his first baseball play-by-play gig in the West Coast League, a collegiate summer league.
Bigley worked in the California League and the Carolina League before coming to Frisco in September 2019, when he replaced Rouillard calling local high school football games.
In 2020, Bigley was poised to make his RoughRiders debut. But when the pandemic forced the entire minor league season to be canceled, he was laid off. He worked a retail job for a while and was hired back by the team in 2021. In his first season, the team played 119 games and is scheduled to play 138 games this year.
Even for die-hard baseball fans, calling an entire season can be a grind. That’s why Bigley relished the Texas League All-Star break in mid-July, which provided a short respite from the game and allowed personnel to recharge their batteries before the remainder of the season.
“I love my job and what I do, but it can be emotionally exhausting. A short day is still 13 hours,” he said. “It can be a long season and sometimes it’s good to step back to realize how lucky you are to do your job. I certainly am very, very lucky.”
When the RoughRiders’ current season concludes, Bigley plans to call local high school basketball and football games. “It’s so much fun. I love it. I’m lucky enough to be full-time with the RoughRiders as well. Being able to do that and the high school stuff really keeps me busy during the off-season for sure.”
Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer and longtime Frisco resident who works behind the scenes for several local professional sports franchises.