BEREA -- When the Cleveland Browns announced their new radio partnership with ESPN 850 WKNR, 92.3 The Fan and 98.5 WNCX on Thursday morning, their play-by-play voice, Jim Donovan, called it an “exciting” day for the team and fans.
But for Donovan, every day is an exciting day because being the play-by-play voice for an NFL team was a lifelong goal.
“It’s a great thrill anytime anybody ever says to me, ‘You’re the voice of the Browns,’” Donovan said. “The hair on the back of my neck goes up because it’s a dream come true. It’s something that I never take for granted, and I think it’s because of all the great people that have had the job before me and how great they were and how revered they are in Cleveland Browns history.”
It is that excitement Donovan feels from someone talking about him being the “Voice of the Browns” that drives him throughout the weeks leading up to each of the team’s games.
“You never take it likely in your preparation for a game, and if a game isn’t going the way you want it to go, you really have to snap to it, continue on and become great at it because that’s what people deserve and that’s what they’ve had in the past,” Donovan said. “That’s what they expect from you and that’s what you need to expect from yourself.”
From Gib Shanley to Jim Mueller and Nev Chandler, the Browns have had a long history of their radio broadcasts in the hands and descriptions of some of the most recognizable names in the NFL.
When the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 after the original franchise moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, Donovan auditioned for the play-by-play role. After getting the opportunity, Donovan and former Browns left tackle Doug Dieken were paired together in the radio booth, where they have remained for the past 14 seasons.
Donovan, Dieken and sideline reporter Jamir Howerton will be back as part of the radio team for the Browns this fall, and the former Brown is excited about the opportunity for his partner’s calls to reach a broader audience through the new radio partnership.
“The way Jimmy does the game, I think if you were unfortunate and didn’t have your eyesight, you could see the game through Jimmy’s words,” Dieken said. “I think that’s a talent that not many have, but when you have someone that has that ability, I think Cleveland is very fortunate. We’ve had a lot of good play-by-play guys in the history of sports.”