Richmond Flying Squirrels games at The Diamond will sound a bit different this season. For the first time, the team will have a woman as the public-address announcer.
The Double-A franchise, which starts its 11th season at home May 4, hired Bianca Bryan, a Richmond-based voice-over and theater personality, to handle introductions of players, and to provide other announcements and entertainment.
In recent years, teams at various levels of many sports moved to women as PA announcers. The San Francisco Giants, the Flying Squirrels’ parent club, employ a woman, Renel Brooks-Moon, as their PA person. Three other teams in the major leagues feature women in PA positions.
“I have been a longtime Squirrels fan and, actually, a longtime San Francisco Giants fan because my dad grew up around [that] area,” said Bryan, 42, married, and the mother of two. She added that the prospect of PA work at The Diamond, “just sounded like a totally fun thing to do because I’ve been in radio for a long time so announcing comes easily to me, and announcing and watching baseball all summer sounds like a pretty fun job.”
For the last three seasons (2017-19), PA responsibilities at The Diamond went to Anthony Oppermann, also the organization’s executive director for marketing and promotions. Todd Parnell, the team’s CEO, said the Flying Squirrels determined that Oppermann’s involvement with in-game promotions during this season’s 60-game home schedule would increase, creating an opening in the PA booth.
The Flying Squirrels advertised the vacancy at TeamWork Online, a portal that presents openings in the sports industry, and received about 40 applications. Bryan said she came upon the ad during an online search. The team auditioned eight candidates, Bryan among them. They read scripts that included pregame announcements, lineups, player substitutions and other information.
“She just really stood out because of her professionalism and just the overall sound quality of her voice. You could tell she is someone who has done professional voice work during her career,” Oppermann said of Bryan.
Parnell said, “We’re very much looking forward to having her be part of the team. We felt like she was a great fit.”
Bryan was born in South Africa, the daughter of diplomats. She also spent time growing up in South America and speaks Spanish, which helped her candidacy, according to Oppermann. Typically, many players on Richmond teams and their opponents are from Spanish-speaking lands.
Being a woman did not work to Bryan’s advantage, or against her, Oppermann said, though her hiring brings a positive.
“I don’t think we started off particularly looking for a woman to fill the role,” said Oppermann. “However, we are excited about the fact that if little girls come out to a Flying Squirrels game and hear Bianca in the PA booth, they can think to themselves, ‘Wow, that could be me one day.’”