South Charlotte

You have probably heard this guy's voice

You can't miss Mike Markham at sporting events. He's always the loudest - his voice deep, crisp and resonate.

He's the guy who gets fans' hearts racing after a big play, who makes the audience hoarse from yelling in unison.

No, he's not the face-painted, wigged, shirtless dude in the third row who spends half the game on the Jumbotron.

In fact, sometimes you won't see Markham at all.

South Charlotte's Markham pays the bills with a mixture of voiceover work, public-address announcing and ring announcing for boxing and mixed martial arts.

He has worked for the Marine Corps, Queens University of Charlotte, Winthrop University, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Arts & Science Council and a number of Charlotte radio stations.

He's even taking his talent to the international stage. The 32-year-old recently was selected to announce a series of mixed martial arts events throughout Latin America, and he has applied for a PA announcing position in the 2012 Olympics in London.

But being the man on the mic wasn't always the New Orleans native's dream.

Growing up the son of two teachers, "my mom used to get on me for the way I pronounced words," said Markham. "In a lot of ways, I had poor diction."

It took him a little while to find his niche.

After graduating from high school, he attended several colleges - a semester at University of Tennessee, a semester at junior college and a few semesters at University of Southern Mississippi - but no diploma.

He met his wife of 10 years, Ginger, at USM.

Ginger was a soccer player for the university, so Markham spent a lot of time at her games. That's when he first thought about PA announcing. "The guy who did her (games) wasn't very good," he said.

After working some temporary PA gigs in El Paso, Texas, he and Ginger moved to south Florida, where she convinced him to get formal training at a branch of the Connecticut School of Broadcasting.

It's there he perfected that diction his mom had pestered him about.

After graduating in 2003, Markham and his wife moved to Charlotte. They now live in the Starmount neighborhood in the SouthPark area.

Markham got a job with Westwood One's Metro Network, a large broadcasting company with a wire service, where he covered the Panthers, the Bobcats and the ACC as a part-time sports reporter and part-time traffic reporter for local radio stations.

Local radio listeners might recognize some of his many radio aliases: Mike Thibodeaux (TIB-uh-doe), David Lagniappe (LAN-yapp), Johnny Biscuits, Roger Maxwell and Mark Michaels.

Thibodeaux is a Louisiana last name, and Lagniappe is Louisiana lingo for the icing on the cake.

"Many traffic reporters don't go by their real names," said Markham. "Sometimes, it's just for fun, and sometimes it's because competing stations" don't want the appearance of sharing traffic reporters.

In 2008, he entered the world of ring announcing for mix martial arts matchups.

"The little things make a big difference," said Markham. "In ring announcing, that could be looking up more at the camera and at your cards less ... the position of your feet, not rocking back and forth."

Former Queens University Sports Information Director Sarah Waple hired Markham when the university was searching for a go-to PA announcer for basketball games.

"It's small community, sports," said Waple. "It's a different type of crowd engagement and knowing what sounds good. I would give Mike a pretty good script, and he would turn it into something better."

Working at a smaller university like Queens means big-time accountability. When the announcer is four seats away from the home-team coach, if there are any mispronounced names or over-zealous talk about the opposing team, there's instant feedback.

That was never an issue with Markham, Waple said.

Waple, now the communications director for SwimMAC Carolina, whose headquarters is in south Charlotte, said she's still good friends with Markham, who's now the go-to PA announcer for Winthrop.

Markham's dream job is to be the ring announcer for the Ultimate Fighting Championships, a position currently held by Bruce Buffer, whose brother Michael started the "let's get ready to rumble" cheer.

But for now, Markham splits his time between work; his 1-year-old son, Jack; and perfecting his art.

"As soon as (people) open their mouths ... they have a certain degree of credibility because of the way they sound," said Markham. "I just love a strong, crisp, resonant voice, someone who commands that authority."

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