Openings for pro teams’ public address (PA) announcer jobs are rare, especially in the National Basketball Association. As glamorous as these jobs appear, it is after all only a part-time gig.
Jedidiah Jones, a 2016 Minneapolis North graduate, is one of 30 NBA PAs, in his first season working the arena mic at Minnesota Timberwolves home games. He replaced Shawn Parker, who stepped down this summer after five seasons.
“It’s definitely a blessing to be here,” Jones told the MSR after a home contest. “Growing up I really wanted to be a basketball player, I wanted to be right here on this court.
“Things didn’t work out for me in high school,” said Jones. “At that time basketball wasn’t for me. I wasn’t in the right headspace for it. I wasn’t as dedicated as I should have been.”
But instead, unbeknownst to him at the time, he would in a few years be in the NBA. Jones was hired by the Wolves after he survived several auditioning rounds this summer. He heard about the opening while listening to the radio at work.
“I just caught it by chance,” recalled Jones. “As soon as I got back home from work, I told my wife, ‘I think I’m gonna try [for the] PA position.”
When he finally got the call informing him that he had indeed won the Wolves PA job, “My wife is jumping for joy with me,” recalled Jones. “Ever since then, it still feels surreal.”
Jones has a distinctive bass voice: “Everybody was calling me Barry White. It really started when I was about in eighth, ninth grade. I’ve always been told that it was money in my voice.” But once he got to North High, one of his teachers “stopped me in my tracks. He told me I had the voice of God.”
The North teacher was indeed prophetic as Jones this season is one of the 30 NBA’s “Voices of God (VOG),” the industry term for a PA announcer. He’s one of the few Black PA announcers—Detroit’s John Mason and Kyle Speller of Denver are among them.
After graduating from high school Jones attended college for music production. “That didn’t go so well for me,” he admitted. “So, after going from job to job to job, I got sick and tired of doing that. I went back to college at MCTC (Minneapolis Community and Technical College). I studied for theater arts.”
“I was on a dean’s list, doing really well, and then COVID happened,” continued Jones, who eventually left school, signed up with an agent, and starting seeking acting jobs.
He hasn’t given up on that acting thing, “a waiting game, waiting for auditions to come my way. I always liked basketball. Even though I’m not a player, I’m still involved in the NBA. In a way I made my dream come true.
“For me to be in this position so young and just take everything in, piece by piece, is definitely a blessing.”
The new Pac-12/SWAC Legacy Series Games are now underway. The men’s and women’s games will be aired live on ESPN+ and the Pac-12 Network, including a total of five non-conference matchups played on SWAC campuses.
The Legacy Series is an educational and basketball scheduling partnership between the two athletics conferences to tip off the 2022-23 season.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.