For student athletes, fans, reporters and anyone who happened to stop by a Mustangs’ athletic event over the last two decades, one man has established his voice as one of the most iconic on the Central Coast: public address (P.A.) announcer Mike Moreno.
His voice has been heard after every first down, every goal, every three-pointer and just about anything else you can imagine, since taking over as the Mustangs’ P.A. announcer 23 years ago, in 1996.
“In the five years I’ve been here, I [have] appreciated every first down that [Moreno has] called, every touchdown, every time [he has] hyped up the crowd,” senior fullback Joe Protheroe said.
Moreno’s passion for announcing began in his childhood, when his father took him to UC Santa Barbara basketball games. Moreno’s father loved the P.A. announcer, and Moreno himself took a liking to the announcer as a result.
“I didn’t know back then that I would eventually be a public address announcer,” Moreno said. “But that was just a part of the fun of going to the basketball games, to listen to him as well.”
Moreno spent 19 years working as a commercial fisherman, while also serving as an on-air radio personality. He moved from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo at the tail-end of his fishing career to help his brother with his fishing.
As his time as a fisherman came to a close, another door for Moreno opened when Cal Poly Athletics made a phone call in search of a P.A. announcer for football games. Moreno got the job – and soon, his voice boomed throughout all of Spanos Stadium and its surrounding areas, so loudly that his voice caused issues with the stadium’s previous sound system.
“In those old days, it was old equipment,” Moreno said. “A couple years into my doing the P.A., they changed up some speakers around the scoreboard and still, I kept blowing the speakers up [. . .] they just weren’t equipped to handle what we were putting through them.”
Moreno has expanded his announcing repertoire since his 1996 debut. In addition to football, Moreno also serves as the P.A. announcer for soccer, basketball and softball. He described the difference in announcing style between the sports, with football’s meticulous and well-timed announcement schedule being one of the biggest changes since his arrival.
But the nitty-gritty of his duties has remained the same since his start: getting pronunciation right. The voice of the Central Coast has pronounced many names over the years — from men’s soccer goalkeeper Simon Boehme to CSUN women’s basketball player Ofa Tulikihihifo (who Moreno considers the hardest name he ever pronounced) — and recalls a funny moment shared with sophomore defensive linebacker Saia Fonongaloa.
“I ran into [Fonongaloa] and he said ‘Mike, I had two solo tackles and you gave them to No. 7 Jayson Lee,’” Moreno said. “‘You don’t like to say the Polynesian names.’”
These interactions with the student athletes, his dedication to being accurate over the speakers and his ability to energize a crowd have made Moreno a favorite with fans and student athletes. While Moreno is grateful for the compliments he receives from fans and student athletes for his boisterous and energetic calls during games, the long-time P.A. announcer downplays the attention he gets from those in attendance.
“I try to be as inconspicuous as possible because I’m not the focus of the game, it’s the athletes on the field,” Moreno said about his role as an announcer. “I’m just the voice trying to convey some information.”
After putting down the microphone at the end of this season — which he describes as one of the hardest things he will ever have to do — Moreno says the one thing he will miss the most is the people he works with as a P.A. announcer.
“It’s just a great place to work and there [are] great people that we’re working with,” Moreno said. “That’s what I’m really going to miss.”