The Portland Trail Blazers announced this summer that longtime radio play-by-play announcer Brian Wheeler would be exiting his post, with newcomer Travis Demers set to replace him. Maury Brown of Forbes profiled Demers, diving into how the Long Island University graduate ended up calling games for the Blazers.
Demers found an opportunity out of college that sent him across the U.S., starting his work in Oregon:
“I wanted to be on the air, so the last couple months of college I took all my tapes and sent them out to every possible place that had an opening,” he said. “I applied for the Auburn play-by-play job, which I failed to get. But I did get a job doing high school football in Astoria and Seaside, Oregon for $50 a game. I took the job sight unseen and that’s how I wound up on the West Coast.”
After several stops, Demers landed at 620 AM Rip City Radio. When Wheeler needed a last-minute sub two years ago, Demers got a call:
“It was just a preseason game, but I was treating it like it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals,” Demers says. “It’s like 5 minutes before the game, and I’m hyperventilating because I’m so nervous.” From there, he got up from the mic and walked down to the media room to try and calm his nerves. “I walk in and I see Bill Schonley. He asks how I’m doing and I tell him I’m nervous. He says to me, ‘You’re going to do great,’ and that settled me down and I was able to do the job.”