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For This Announcer, It's The Inaugural Inauguration

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to shake up Washington. And the inauguration, it seems, will be no exception. Breaking with tradition, Trump's inaugural committee has replaced the man who's been the announcer at inauguration parades for the past 60 years. It's hired a new voice, that of Steve Ray. He's a local announcer who's voiced commercials for the Washington Nationals baseball team, and he joins us now on the line.

Hello and congratulations.

STEVE RAY: Lulu, thank you so much. I'm actually a big fan of yours, believe it or not. I find your articles about Brazil just fascinating.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

RAY: And that's the absolute truth. Thank you so much for having me on and even more so for being flexible. I know I was supposed to be on earlier in the day, but we had the dress rehearsal...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The dress rehearsal...

RAY: ...For the inauguration parade.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...How did that go?

RAY: Oh, phenomenal. I am very impressed with the - literally 13,000 military folks who are part of the logistics of this. Six thousand of them are in the parade. But on top of that, you've got literally hundreds of volunteers coordinating every aspect of this. And you know Washington. You're here with us.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yes.

RAY: Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Capitol to the White House - that's a good bit of territory to cover and keep everything very tight to time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right.

RAY: But everything went off without a hitch this morning. And the marching units, the equestrian units, drill teams and even some of the civic organizations, like these beautiful pipe and drum corps from different first responder groups around the country - this is going to be a beautiful parade, and it will run maybe about an hour-fifteen, hour-twenty, tops. Mr. Trump has requested that it runs about an hour or so so that he can get right to work.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And you'll be making the announcement. Just for those people who don't know, what does the inaugural announcer do?

RAY: Well, the president's announcer, in particular - and there are five other announcers that we've chosen to be along that route as you come up Pennsylvania Avenue just because of the the fact that you can't have a PA guy that covers that entire length - that one of the things that's very key for me is that because that person now is the commander in chief, whoever takes that oath of office, they are required by protocol to stand and, in some cases, salute when there is a unit or a color guard.

So I work with the military protocol folks to be the eyes and ears of the president and the first family who then respond...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you're the...

RAY: ...Right across the street.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're basically the presidential whisper, if you will.

RAY: Exactly. I like that, yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So...

RAY: Exactly I'm - OK. That's a new hashtag for me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Presidential...

RAY: No, he's the Trump whisperer.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The Trump whisperer. Just briefly, in a few sentences - you supported Mr. Trump during the election. You were a volunteer for his campaign. Is that how you were tapped for the job?

RAY: Actually, it's only part of the story. And I'm - Lulu, thank you for allowing me to clear this up, especially to your audience. And I love NPR, by the way. You guys, historically, have done a great job (coughing). Pardon me. I've been talking for two and half hours.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just in a few sentences - we're running out of time. Just a few sentences.

RAY: OK - very quickly. Very quickly - I was a driver in the Trump motorcade. I was not a campaign volunteer. And the other thing that people think is I'm a huge donor. I paid all of $35 for a souvenir gold-and-black Trump card. It had everything to do with my qualifications and nothing to do with who I voted for because it isn't a political position.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. Steve Ray will be the announcer for the inauguration parade for President-elect Donald Trump this Friday. Thank you.

RAY: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY BAND PERFORMANCE OF JOHN PHILIP SOUSA'S "STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.