COOS BAY — You could make an argument Matt Jarvis has one of the most recognizable voices in high school sports in Oregon.
It’s certainly the case in early November at Lane Community College, where Jarvis is the public address announcer for the state cross country meet, a role he’s had since 1972.
And in late May each spring, his voice booms out over Hayward Field in Eugene, where he has been public address announcer at the state track meet also dating back to the 1970s.
This week, Jarvis will be providing the eyes for people around the state who don’t get to the Bay Area for the Class 3A state tournament, calling the broadcast during many of the games for people listening online through the Oregon School Activities Association website, www.osaa.org.
He’s been broadcasting playoff football and tournament basketball games for OSAA for a number of years, and has earned plenty of respect along the way.
“I think Matt Jarvis is, if not the best, is absolutely one of the top play-by-play broadcasters in the state,” said Steve Walker, the sports information director for OSAA. “We all know what we like to hear in a public address announcer and a radio broadcaster, and having some radio experience myself, I know what I like to hear in a play-by-play call, and it’s Matt Jarvis.”
Jarvis has decades of experience around a microphone.
He first tried his hand as a PA announcer during a track meet when he was an eighth-grader in Newport. He remembers not having time to prepare for his own race because he was so busy with that task.
His early broadcasting background included being a rock DJ and then getting a start in calling high school sports, including at Marshfield High School in 1980.
He did some work in television for a few years in Klamath Falls, Medford and Coos Bay before realizing a long-term goal of owning a radio station, purchasing a small one in Waldport and turning it into a success. To attract an audience, he provided a live talk show and broadcast sports ranging from football, volleyball and basketball to wrestling, baseball and softball.
He returned to the Bay Area in 2000 and, since Marshfield decided to broadcast its sports on its own radio station a decade ago, is the lead announcer for the Pirates for football, boys basketball and baseball and softball in the spring.
He loves being around the high school game.
“It’s true sports,” Jarvis said, adding that by the time some athletes get to big time college, they know they’re good and get a little cocky. “Here, they’re all still dreaming. They have the talent. You can see it coming.
“And it’s the whole town, it’s not just the high school. When I do a broadcast, I hope it’s special for the entire town.”
Jarvis loves the Class 3A state tournament in part because it involves smaller schools, often with vibrant student sections and big followings from their home towns.
“It’s great,” Jarvis said. “The whole town is excited about it. They come out and they yell and they cheer.
“And you can’t beat the venue. The smell is there and the sound and the feeling.”
Jarvis remembers the first game he listened to on the radio, Newport was playing in the state tournament at Pirate Palace in 1968, with the legendary announcer Bob Spangler on the call.
“You could hear the stadium,” he said. “(Spangler) was giving me the eyes that could see.
“(Now) I realize I’m in his place. That’s why Pirate Palace is special to me.”
Walker said part of what makes Jarvis a great broadcaster is his vast experience broadcasting high school sports.
“He’s kind of a walking historian of Oregon high school sports,” Walker said. “For as young as he is, he brings decades of experience to the table from all the state basketball tournaments he’s seen and all the state cross country meets and all the state track meets he’s attended.”
Next week, Jarvis will be in Forest Grove, broadcasting for OSAA at the Class 4A state tournament. But it’s this week he’s been anticipating throughout the season.
“The nice thing is I know the schools,” he said. “I know a lot of the coaches.
“The tournament atmosphere is fantastic and you get a lot of great games.”
And Jarvis looks forward to telling listeners around the state all about it.