Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Man Behind the Mic: Dean DeVore is THE VOICE at Beaver Stadium

For longtime Penn State football fans, reflecting on past fall Saturdays in Beaver Stadium usually brings a voice to mind.

For older fans who listened to games on the radio, it might be the voice of longtime play-by-play man Fran Fisher. For others, it might be current play-by-play man Steve Jones. But for those who have been frequenting Beaver Stadium for the last couple of decades, there is likely just one voice that comes to mind.

That voice belongs to Dean DeVore.

DeVore has been THE VOICE as the stadium’s public address announcer since 2000. He’s seen so many amazing moments and incredible games that there are simply too many to list here.

On a recent “Victory Monday,” DeVore sat in his home studio and reflected on his love of Penn State, his successful career, and what the future holds.

Where it began

DeVore grew up in Millersville, Pa., and attended Penn Manor High School. He arrived at Penn State in the fall of 1984. As a student, he fell in love with Happy Valley. He was in the Blue Band and, as a result, began to meet people involved with Penn State athletics.

“At the end of 1988 school year I stopped going to school and started working in radio with WMAJ and X 103,” DeVore explains. “Roger Corey hired me, and I was working with Steve Jones. I was doing a little bit of everything.”

Back in the day, radio stations were staffed around the clock, and DeVore found himself running the board for Pirates games in the evening.

His first PA [public address] job, he recalls, came in the spring of 1989.

“That was men’s lacrosse,” DeVore says. “They wanted me to do it, and I said, ‘I know nothing about lacrosse!’ They said, ‘That’s OK, we’ll teach you.’”

From there, he began landing more on-air gigs. He began hosting the Penn State football pregame show with Corey and the postgame show with then-PA announcer Jones.

“We’d set up at the rock out in front of Beaver Stadium and roll out a six-foot Subway sub,” DeVore remembers with a laugh. “Back then, it was all locally driven. There was no network, so all the local stations were doing their own thing.”

His radio career was in full bloom. DeVore started doing play-by-play for Penn State wrestling on both WMAJ and WRSC. Back then, he worked alongside current wrestling play-by-plan man Jeff Byers.

“We would drive everywhere in the EWL (Eastern Wrestling League) back then,” DeVore says. “We would be on the road for days, driving 10 to 12 hours at a time. It was crazy.”

DeVore was a fixture on the local airwaves.

In the Box

Being the PA announcer for lacrosse began to open other doors for DeVore.

“Other coaches would hear me doing lacrosse and they’d want me for their sport,” DeVore says. “I think the reason I am able to do this is because I have trained and done so much PA at Penn State that football was just the natural outgrowth.”

His success with men’s lacrosse led to PA for the women’s volleyball team.

“Volleyball became the big ignition point. I got pretty good at volleyball and got hired by the NCAA,” DeVore says.

By his count, he did five Final Fours in the mid to late 1990s.

Name a sport and there’s a chance that DeVore has run the PA for it.

At the present time, he does football and women’s volleyball in the fall, men’s volleyball and men’s gymnastics in the winter, and men’s lacrosse in the spring. He’s also helped out with women’s lacrosse and field hockey at times over the last few years, he says.

On the Mic

The PA job at the stadium opened up when Jones moved over to do radio for the Penn State Sports Network following the retirement of Fisher.

DeVore said that the stadium job was a natural extension of what he was already doing.

“(Penn State) trusted me to do it. They know that I’m really about the athletes. Magnifying the athlete’s performance is what it’s about. It’s not about me,” DeVore says.

Still, DeVore had to try out for the job.

“There was an audition of around eight people,” DeVore recalls. “They did it in the Jordan Center.”

Needless to say, the university liked what they heard. And once DeVore got behind the mic, he was not about to let go.

The 2021 season is DeVore’s 22nd season at the mic in Beaver Stadium.

And while he loves Penn State football, the PA job is real work. There is a ton of preparation involved and, while fans are out in the parking lots drinking, eating, and tossing footballs around, DeVore is up in the booth getting ready for “The Greatest Show in College Football.”

In fact, DeVore says, preparing for the game now encompasses the entire week. Sundays and Mondays are off days. There is “scattered stuff” early in the week, followed by a game day production meeting on Wednesday afternoon. He tries to get the opposing team’s travel roster on Thursday and starts making color coded sheets with names and pronunciations.

“You learn some little tricks,” DeVore says of the process. “I have a pretty good system now.”

By Friday of game week, all the prep work is about done. The game’s start time dictates when DeVore’s alarm goes off on Saturday. For a noon kickoff, he’s up before the sun rises in Happy Valley.

Once he settles in, there’s really no break. Since DeVore also announces the Blue Band, he’s on the mic from pregame until the victory bell rings.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, to be honest with you,” DeVore says.

Weatherman Says

Even if you have never been to Beaver Stadium for a football game, there’s a chance you’ve heard DeVore’s voice elsewhere in the United States. DeVore’s main job is as a meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, the largest weather forecasting service in the country.

“AccuWeather helped me get a meteorology degree from Mississippi State,” DeVore explains, “and I began doing on-air work as a meteorologist and took over some of the biggest radio stations when Joe Sobel and then Elliot Abrams retired.”

As a meteorologist, DeVore does forecasts all over the United States. You can hear his voice on radio stations in Pittsburgh, New York City, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago and Providence  ― just to name a few.

The Impact of COVID

During the 2020 season, the Nittany Lions got off to the worst start in school history. They were 0-5 before posting a win and reeling off four straight to finish 4-5.

Due to a mandate from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Beaver Stadium was empty for most games. DeVore, though, was there for each and every one of them, announcing the game to a vacant stadium as if there were 107,000 strong in the stands.

It had to be strange, right?

“There was a point where it was bizarre, but then we got to a point about halfway through the first game or maybe the second game where we understood that our guys were still loving it,” DeVore says of the games. “That’s who it became for.”

He pointed out that there were some games where families were allowed into the stadium to watch the student-athletes play.

“We were doing things and we were having fun. After a while, it wasn’t as weird,” DeVore says.

However, he was glad to see the fans back in the stands on Sept. 11 for the home opener with Ball State.

“It was so satisfying,” DeVore says.

Looking Ahead

With his 22nd year at the PA in full swing, DeVore says he realizes that he is a dinosaur, of sorts.

“This type of longevity is pretty rare, and I am appreciative of that,” DeVore says.

With all of his responsibilities, he can’t enjoy the game like a “normal” fan. Does he ever want to just hang out with family and friends, catch the game, tailgate, and head home?

That’s a loaded question, of course.

“There is coming a point where, for football, I’m not sure how much longer I want to do the whole game,” DeVore says.

When he’s not THE VOICE at numerous Penn State athletic events, DeVore likes to spend time with his partner, Joel, play disc golf, travel, work in his garden, or go camping.

But leaving the mic behind? It will be extremely hard. At this point in his career, it’s in his blood. He bleeds blue and white.

“Twenty-five (years) is a nice round number, maybe 30,” DeVore says of stepping away from the mic. “I do think I want a few years of not having the pressure, but just enjoying the game.”

Don’t worry, though, Penn State fans ― you still have plenty of time to enjoy DeVore’s dulcet tones over the Beaver Stadium PA.

“I do think there’s a time coming to ease out of it,” DeVore says, “but at the same time, I can’t imagine not doing it. I really do love it.”