That’s right, starting S29, there won’t be a different announcer every week. Only one man will stand in what used to be Charlie O’Donnell’s booth, and that man is Los Angeles radio personality Jim Thornton.
I know this is going to be bad news for our friend Lora Cain, who I interviewed earlier this year. I’d like to offer my condolences, but to be honest, I wanted Johnny Gilbert to win. After all, he has experience. Not only did he work the job during the April Fool’s Day 1997 episode, but also in 1995 (video courtesy of DownsA530):
That proves he’s not just a Johnny-come-lately. (Little joke there, and I do mean little.) I’m glad this search is over, and I offer my congratulations to Mr. Thornton.
What has this experience taught us? Having on-air auditions work. It gives the audience a chance to respond to the announcer. It provides material for certain message boards. It gives announcers equal pay and equal opportunity.
This process had its genesis in 1985, when Price’s Johnny Olson passed away:
There were only 2 contestants, Bob Hilton, Rich Jeffries and Gene Wood. On the syndicated version, Wood took over, so it would seem to be no surprise that he would be a shoo-in winner. However…… a man from one of CBS’ other hit games, Press Your Luck, got the job after Hilton left to host a pilot for Chuck Barris. His name…… Rod Roddy. He was announced as announcer on February 17, 1986 after announcing merely 6 episodes.
He kept the job until October 20, 2003; 1 week before his death. (You can find this information on Wikipedia.) Before then, they had subs come in while Rod was going through chemo. Now, a show cannot just quit production while they find a new announcer, so again they had on-air auditions (video courtesy of thewhammy83).
And you can guess who won. He continued even as Price found a new host, Drew Carey. Drew and Rich’s on-air relationship continued until July 2010, when he announced that he would be leaving the show. (Personally, methinks he was fired.) According to his press release, the executive producer Mike Richards wanted someone who could do improv comedy. So, on-air auditions began again (video courtesy of WayoshiM and davidhlawrence).
And surprise surprise…… George Gray won. I consider these auditions stacked, because I personally think someone with experience should’ve gotten the job. Of course, out of all the options given, I’d have to flip between David and Jeff. It doesn’t matter now, because George won.
Of course, Price and Wheel aren’t the only shows to have rotating announcers. I’ll show you what I mean in a bit.