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How the Las Vegas Raiders’ new stadium announcer turned his voice into a one-man industry

When Tim Hughes talks — for KSL, the Utes, radio and TV ads, and now the Las Vegas Raiders — he’s working

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Radio personality Tim Hughes laughs during an interview with Lee Benson at his home studio in West Jordan on Oct. 26, 2021.

Radio personality Tim Hughes laughs during an interview with Lee Benson at his home studio in West Jordan on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

In his deep, resonant, well-trained announcer’s voice — one that is equally comfortable riffing with Amanda Dickson on KSL Newsradio’s morning drive as it is announcing a world championship kickboxing bout — Tim Hughes could tell you it was all a well-designed plan.

That he would go from a country music disc jockey, to a KSL mainstay, to announcing Olympic medal winners, to becoming arguably the most popular kickboxing ring announcer in the world, to now, at the prime time age of 62, landing dream work as stadium announcer for both the Utah Utes and Las Vegas Raiders football teams.

And because of that deep, resonant, well-trained announcer voice, you’d believe him.

But he won’t do that. Because the truth is, he’s still not quite sure he can convince himself it all happened.

“I have to pinch myself,” he says. “None of this stuff was really planned out by me. It was not some grand design. The only thing I can attribute it to is my willingness to go through whatever doors happened to open along the way.”

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Radio personality Tim Hughes shows some of his Las Vegas Raiders items in his home studio during an interview with Lee Benson in West Jordan on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Every now and then, when a young person aspiring to go into the announcing business tells him they’re questioning if they have what it takes, Tim will pull out a recording from 40 years ago and play it for them.

“Listen to this guy,” he’ll say.

The voice is high, screechy, sounding like the proverbial nails-on-chalkboard.

“That’s me,” he smiles.

Keep at it, he advises, that’s the key. You’ll hone your delivery. You’ll refine your craft. Just don’t stop while you’re doing it.

Hughes is exhibit A for hanging in there; his four-plus decades in the business a paean to stick-to-it-iveness. He’s been hired, fired and rehired, transitioned, repurposed and reprogrammed, and now here he is, telling 50,000 people packed into Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday night “THAT’S ANOTHER UTAH — pause for effect — FIRST DOWN!” and the next day informing 65,000 people packed into Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, “AND NOW, STARTING AT QUARTERBACK FOR YOUR LAS VEGAS RAIDERS, THE CAPTAIN, DEREK CARRRRRRRRRRRR!”

And those are just his weekend jobs.

“I like to think I’m an enthusiastic team guy for whoever wants to pay me to work,” says Tim, attempting to define a career and lifestyle not easily defined.

His day job — if you call 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. daytime — is helping Utah wake up weekdays alongside his co-host Amanda Dickson, the longtime KSL Newsradio host with the energy of a dozen Starbucks.

After that, you might find him doing freelance work in his home studio in West Jordan.

Or you might catch him at the airport, flying to one of 14 countries where Glory Kickboxing events are held.

“I do wear a lot of hats,” agrees Tim, “Or maybe I should say I wear a lot of different suits.” For his kickboxing gigs, for instance, he wears a smokers jacket made by the same company that makes jackets for longtime UFC announcer Bruce Buffer, “although I have to pay for them; he doesn’t, which is a big difference.”

For KSL morning drive? “If I’m in my studio at home, my jammies.” For Raiders and Ute games? Raiders and Ute gear, of course.

“You hear actors talk about it all the time. They get dressed in a period outfit to go on the set for a Western, all of a sudden they’re a cowboy,” Tim explains. “When I put on a smokers jacket for ring announcing it’s a different guy from the one doing the ‘Greenhouse Show’ on KSL.”

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Radio personality Tim Hughes laughs during an interview with Lee Benson at his home studio in West Jordan on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It all began when Tim was 19 years old and his hometown radio station in Pocatello, Idaho, hired him to program the automated music tapes.

“I wasn’t supposed to speak,” he remembers, “they wanted me to record the top of the hour IDs. But I’d call everyone I knew and tell them I was going to be live and at the top of the hour and I’d come on and say, “KISU, KSNN, Pocatello.”

It was that unrelenting drive that got him to Salt Lake City three months later, when KSOP, the country music giant, hired him to do the graveyard shift, midnight to 6 a.m.

“I swore I’d never work at a country station — until they offered me the job,” says Tim. “Now I love country music.”

KSOP was responsible for two milestone events in Tim’s life. One, it was there that he met his wife, Becki, who worked in sales. Two, it got him noticed by KSL, far and away the market’s most dominant station.

In 1988 he went to work for KSL. He left five years later, in the midst of a KSL upheaval, to work at KISN/KNRS and open a studio in his home for freelance work, then was back at KSL in 2001, just in time for the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Games. As fate had it, NBC, KSL’s parent network, was doing the Games. That opened doors. Hughes won the plumb job announcing medalists each night in the Medals Plaza, and also landed work doing bumpers and billboards — broadcasting terms for identifying the network and announcing ads — for NBC. (He has been doing periodic Olympic work ever since).

It was during this period that he started doing ring announcing for local mixed martial arts events as a favor for a promoter friend — $100-a-night gigs at places like Sandy’s Station.

Little did he know that much bigger ultimate fighting organizations would hear the tapes of those fights. The biggest of these was Glory Kickboxing, the preeminent kickboxing league that broadcasts in 180 countries around the globe. Hughes became Glory’s resident ring announcer in 2012, shortly after the league’s inception, and has been ever since. His passport has more stamps on it than a CIA agent.

If all that wasn’t enough, in 2019 Tim auditioned for — and won — the University of Utah stadium announcing job after the departure of longtime announcer Mike Runge. And in 2020, when the NFL’s Raiders moved from Oakland to Las Vegas, the Raiders people in charge of Game Day, searching for a new stadium announcer with an up-tempo, high-energy style, typed “voice” into Google. A YouTube video of Hughes’ Glory work popped onto the screen. They had their guy, and he was right next door.

“Like I said, I have to pinch myself,” says Tim, in a rare moment of reflection and relaxation with Becki at his home studio. “There was no road map for this. I’m pretty sure if I went back to try and do it again, I couldn’t.”

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Radio personality Tim Hughes sits in his home studio during an interview with Lee Benson in West Jordan on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News