Written by Jeff Falk
Not everyone can do what Steve Davies and Mike Ebersole do. How they pull it off is with outgoing personalities, unwavering character and a certain flair for the dramatic.
Through their witty and playful give-and-take on Lebanon’s WQIC 100.1 FM’s ‘Early Morning Show with Steve Todd’, Davies and Ebersole team to prepare radio listeners for the rigors of another day. Individually, they are also the two most entertaining voices Lebanon County sporting events have to offer.
For the past ten years, Davies has served as the unofficial game host and official voice of Cedar Crest boys’ and girls’ basketball played on a home court he affectionately nicknamed ‘The Cage’. Just this past fall, Davies expanded his public address responsibilities to include Falcon football.
Ebersole is ‘The Voice’ of Lebanon Valley College men’s and women’s basketball, as well as LVC footbal. His voice inflections and well-timed injections keep Flying Dutchmen fans – and players – in the game and on their toes.
“I enjoy it. I love the kids, the fans, the parents,” said Ebersole, who also does public addressing at his alma mater, Elizabethtown High School. “I love being in that environment. I think the fans get a taste of me. You can’t be predictable. If you’re predictable, you’re going to be boring. And if you’re boring people are going to tune you out.”
“You’re not the master of ceremony,” said Davies. “And you don’t want to be the center of attention. People are there to watch the game. You’re just trying to add seasoning or a little spice to the events.”
As public address announcers, Davies and Ebersole are both ‘homers’, but not to the point of being sickening. Ultimately, their goals are to entertain and inform – or to inform entertainingly.
“From the get-go, it stems from my training in radio,” said Davies. “I dont’ want to be offensive to people, or the visitors in the gym. I think you can be for the home team without being negative to the other team.
“I’ve had guys from the other team, coaches fans, come up to me and say ‘Good job’,” Davies continued. “Or ‘You’re the best in the league.’ I don’t ever want to come off as being unprofessional. I want to be respected by the other coaches and other teams.”
“I like to have fun with it,” said Ebersole. “And if it’s done right, it can be a little bit of a homecourt advantage. What you say and when you say it can jack up the kids on the floor and the fans in the stands.
“I do a little thing when there’s a two-shot foul,” continued Ebersole. “I’ll call out the team, the name and the player’s number. If the home team is shooting, I’ll say ‘Shooting twooooo.’ It kind of calms the gym and the people down.”
Davies’ and Ebersole’s personalities come shining through in everything they say. But what endears them to their audiences is their genuineness.
“It doesn’t hurt to have a set of pipes,” said Ebersole. “I’ve always said, ‘If you be yourself, you’ll be at your best.’ If people realize you’re real and approachable they appreciate that. I always wanted people to think, ‘That Mike guy is OK.'”
“I guess you have to be outgoing,” said Davies. “I guess you have to be confident. It’s a nice way for me to get out. It’s as much a social thing for me as a professional thing.”
Being a fan of the game isn’t a requirement for doing public address announcing, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
“I think you have to love the game,” said Ebersole. “If you don’t love the game, your heart and soul and enthusiasm can’t be in it. I like sports a lot. Quite a bit. It’s a big fabric of my being, especially having coached and played.”
“I think it helps if you appreciate some of the skills the players have,” said Davies. “If you can’t, it’s hard to be enthusiastic if something special takes place. I know people who are a lot more passionate about sports than I am. As I grow older, I’ve become less passionate about professional sports. I like the pace of a good high school event, more than a professional event. I like watching high school sports.
“I think people tend to lump radio and public address into the same thing,” Davies continued. “But theyr’e two separate skills. When I’m on the air with Mike in the morning, I’m talking to him and one listener.”
Davies and Ebersole have been doing ‘The Early Morning Show with Steve Todd’ on WQIC together for the last six years. Davies is the host and punch-line guy, while Ebersole handles the news, sports and straight lines.
“Basically what we try to do is keep it as local as possible,” said Davies. “We want to talk about Lebanon County events, and we try to keep it family-friendly. I don’t want to say anything an eight-year-old sitting at the breakfast table would ask, ‘What did he mean by that?’. And we try not to shoot the breeze too much.
“Mikes’ role is news and sports,” Davies added. “And for me to bounce things off of. I don’t want to call him a sidekick. He’s my news guy. He’s smart and he has his own opinion. It works really well. I think what we have is a good thing.”
“You know it works because of the e-mails and the telephone calls,” said Ebersole. “You hear it from people. All in all, it’s pretty good.
“I’m a little more animated,” added Ebersole. “A little more dramatic. He’s a little more stable. I can go off a little more.”
But what Ebersole and Davies do in the morning on the radio is not an act, nor is it rehearsed.
“It’s not rehearsed,” said Davies. “I’ll say to Mike during the break, ‘Hey, let’s talk about the Cliff Lee thing.’ I don’t want to call it flying by the seat of our pants. We start with a topic and wherever it goes from there, it goes.”
“We’ve been doing it for so long, we can banter and it works,” said Ebersole. “I follow where he leads. Most of the time, I don’t know where he’s going. I know my role as far as being busted on or made light of. But there’s nothing real personal.”