As copywriters, copyeditors, proofreaders and translators, our heroes are people with a gift for words. In this new regular addition to our blog, we’ll be looking at the men and women whose voices transcend their industries and whose words are quoted, remembered and revered.
Rick Jeanneret —The Bellow of Buffalo
No one would consider the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres an “important” team in the league. They don’t have the cache of the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens, the draw of the New York Rangers or the Los Angeles Kings, the success of the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Chicago Blackhawks, or the trendiness of the Edmonton Oilers or the San Jose Sharks.
They made it to the finals in 2000, and all anyone remembers was the controversial winning goal and how Sabres’ fans are still complaining about it.
They’re in last place this year. They were in last place last year. And it looks like they’re going to be in last place next year.
But they have Rick Jeanneret.
The NHL’s best announcer
The job of an announcer is to describe the action in a way their audience will appreciate. As a national announcer, this often necessitates objectivity because you’ll have supporters from both sides to appease.
But announcers lucky enough to work for a regional broadcast can be fans. They know who their audiences are rooting for and have the freedom to root alongside them, with the added benefit of creating the sounds of the game for everyone else.
Rick Jeanneret takes full advantage of this fact. He’s unabashedly pro-Sabre and doesn’t care who knows it.
Like Bono, Barack Obama or Sean Connery, Rick Jeanneret has an unmistakable voice. It’s loud and expressive, a tad high-pitched and a lot nasal. But it’s what he does with it night in and night out that puts our jaws on the floor.
Some announcers do it with their mastery of vocabulary. We see that every four years during the FIFA World Cup of Football. Others do it with their insightfulness, and no one does that better than the NFL’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.
Jeanneret does it with his excitement and his ability to create catchphrases on the spot.
You’d think he has them cued up and ready to go, but if you listen closely, you can tell he’s just riffing off-the-cuff. Something magical happens on the ice, and out come these gems.
Jeanneret was inducted into the Buffalo Sabres’ Hall of Fame in 2011, and into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012 as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.
We could go on and on about Rick Jeanneret’s talent or we could just let the man speak for himself. So without further ado…
Most of our copywriting, copyediting, proofreading and translation work is for content that’s meant to be read. Once in a while, we get the chance to work on speeches and it’s such a treat. It’s one thing to see your words on the page. It’s another thing entirely to hear them spoken and watch a crowd react to them. It’s one of the great rushes in our business actually.
So while some people take breaks from the day watching cat videos or setting their fantasy sports team roster (okay, we do those things too), we like to watch history’s great speeches and pick up a tip or two for the next time an oratorical assignment gets thrown our way.
Here are five of our faves:
Ronald Reagan’s Endorsement of Barry Goldwater (29 minutes)
Coming from Hollywood, Reagan clearly knew how to deliver a line. And he delivers a few good ones here. Our favourite is “this time gives no choice between peace and war; only fight and surrender.”
But what makes this speech a great one is the cadence and the vocabulary. He speaks to his audience like they’re intelligent. He doesn’t pause for cheap applause. He lays his argument out and trusts that people will get it. And even though Goldwater lost the election, this speech went down as the catalyst for the re-rise of Richard Nixon and the Republicans just four years later.
Tom Hanks after winning Best Actor for Philadelphia (4 minutes)
The courage Hanks had to take on this role in the first place was an inspiration. But then to follow that up with a speech like this in a time like that was off the charts. And even with the gravity of the topic he still managed to toss in a few little laughs.
Winston Churchill will never surrender (12 minutes)
Imagine you’re the once-proud Great Britain. You’ve ruled the world for 200 years and you just had your clocks cleaned by the Germans. How do you motivate an entire nation shell-shocked beyond belief?
These days, you might get a bunch of yelling and screaming and finger-pointing. But Churchill took a different approach. Calmly and rationally, he reminded Britons what made them who they are. It was just the right mix of somber and riling. And it worked.
Martin Luther King’s Dream (5 minutes)
No list of great speeches can exist without this one on it. Obviously, the message is important, but consider the way Dr. King invites the audience to share in his vision. The brilliance of this speech is the way he turns rage into hope. It would’ve been easy to stand up there and (rightfully) bemoan inequality. But he looks past it to a better world and brings everyone with him.
William Wallace (The blue paint)
Were those words actually uttered on the battlefield? Who cares? They’re amazing.