Heidi Kranz didn’t think she could be the first woman to hold any position.
She thought history had already been made in those ways and didn’t think being the pioneering woman for any job was in the cards for her. But now, she has made history herself as the first woman to serve as the announcer for the Ohio University Marching 110.
Kranz, a Marching 110 alumna who graduated in 2017, played the trumpet in the band for four years. When she heard about the available announcing position through a mutual friend, she quickly contacted the band’s assistant director and asked to audition. Her tryout was scheduled for the next day, and almost immediately after, she was informed that the position was hers.
“I wasn’t even thinking about being the first female to do it,” Kranz said. “I didn’t even realize I would be the first one. But I thought this is a super cool opportunity, and I’m so glad I got the job.”
The OU football team’s home opener served as Kranz’s announcing debut. She felt nervous at the thought of using an unfamiliar microphone and the possibility of mispronouncing the name of a visiting band director who came to town for the 110’s annual event to feature local high school bands. But after her pre-game duties were finished, plenty of other band alumni and friends approached Kranz to offer their commendations on a job well-done.
“I didn’t know what to expect with it, so just everyone being so congratulatory and sweet afterward, that was just awesome,” she said. “I felt like a superstar.”
The initial nerves of a first-time performance are gone now, but in the future, Kranz looks forward to the challenge of coming up with the snappy lines she will say to introduce the songs the band will perform that day.
“I want someone cheering before the band even starts playing because they’re so excited for a song,” she said. “I think that’s going to be pretty hard throughout the season but a good challenge.”
Marching 110 Assistant Director Josh Boyer said announcers for the band have to capture the certain style the position has cultivated over the past several decades. They must be able to excite, without being overzealous, and maintain a clear tone that can be easily understood when amplified. There’s a certain rhythm to it, he said, and Kranz captured it immediately.
She was the last of seven candidates to audition for the job, and Boyer and 110 Director Richard Suk only deliberated for a moment before informing Kranz that she got the job.
“It was pretty quick once we heard her,” Boyer said. “She had exactly what we needed. She definitely won the audition pretty easily.”
Boyer said several alumni and Facebook fans of the 110 congratulated Kranz on a great performance and her historic appointment. Boyer said he can’t remember any woman auditioning for the role previously, but nevertheless, the landmark achievement is a big deal to current and former band members.
“She’s the first (woman) to show interest in it, but it’s a really cool thing,” Boyer said. “And I think a lot of our alums were pretty happy to see that, which is pretty great. And she did a great job.”
Emma Holbrook, a freshman studying music education and a mellophone player in the Marching 110, thinks it would be quite difficult for both men and women to be a marching band announcer. Perfecting the lines said before each number would be similar to practicing lines for a theater performance, and any mistakes would reflect poorly on the group.
But Holbrook said Kranz did very well in her debut as announcer. Holbrook can’t recall ever hearing many women announcing for bands, even in high school. But it seemed to her that Kranz was meant for the job.
“I think that having the first woman announcer is definitely ground-breaking,” Holbrook said. “I love female figures stepping up and … breaking the glass ceiling. I love that, and she’s a powerhouse.”
Kranz acknowledged that there is still progress to be made for women in the Marching 110. The band has yet to have a female field commander, and she hopes that perhaps her appointment as the first woman to announce will help to nudge the group toward finding the right woman for that job as well. But in the meantime, Kranz is happy to shed light on the importance of the announcing position — making 110 history while doing it is icing on the cake.
“I think it’s definitely the step in the right direction,” Kranz said. “I feel honored to be the woman that holds that position.”