It started one night in 1986 because the scheduled announcer failed to show.
Steve Hollister was not asked to fill in; he was told to fill in.
A junior at Columbia River High School at the time, Hollister was a team manager for the girls basketball team. The coach, Earl Enos, ordered Hollister to announce the starting lineups.
“I’d grown up listening to Schonely,” Hollister recalled, referring to longtime Blazer broadcaster Bill Schonely. “I also loved how that guy in Philadelphia (David Zinkoff) announced Dr. J.
“Now was my chance.”
He announced the visiting team. Nothing fancy. Just the basics. Then he put his own special spin with the Columbia River names, making the players feel special on the way to the court.
“The crowd seemed to like it,” Hollister said.
At first, though, he thought he was in trouble. Enos barked at Hollister: “You’ll never be a manager as long as I’m the coach!”
Then the coach smiled.
“As long as I’m the coach, you’re the announcer!”
Hollister lasted even longer.
Monday night is Senior Night for the Chieftains boys basketball team. It also is Hollister Night. Now in his 26th school year of announcing Columbia River sporting events, Hollister is saying goodbye.
A promotion at his work has led to a transfer to Tennessee, and the Voice of the Chieftains is giving up the microphone.
“I think it’s been a great run,” Hollister said. “It’s a part of me, and it will always be a part of me.”
David Long has been the boys basketball coach at River since the 1993-94 season. He has never had to worry about the announcing.
“His voice, he’s got that radio voice,” Long said. “He’s worked his whole schedule around ballgames. He’s hardly missed any through the years. For 26 years, you never had to think of it. Hollister was your guy. This is his school. We’re going to miss him.”
Hollister graduated in 1988 and later married his prom date — Danieal. They have five children — Trevor, 22, Cameron, 20, Magen, 16, Mackenzie, 13, and Ryan, 11.
Together, they have been on this ride with Columbia River athletics. In fact, cheerleaders would take turns caring for baby Magen when dad was announcing.
His first season was so successful, he was asked to announce the boys games when he was a senior.
The next year, at Clark College, he was the voice of the Penguins men’s and women’s doubleheaders on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and still announced the boys and girls games at Columbia River. There were weeks when that voice boomed six nights a week.
In 1994, he moved to the booth high above Chieftain Stadium to announce football games. He got that job only if he promised to remain the voice of boys basketball.
“The thing that makes announcing cool for me is I think I have the best seat in the house,” Hollister said.
Then, with a smirk, he added, “Everybody has to listen to me call the game the way I see it, whether they like it or not.”
All the Chieftains love it.
Hollister does not demean opponents. He simply announces the players and lets the crowd know who did what.
But when the home team does something good, well, there is that extra style saved only for the Chieftains.
When a Chieftain makes a 3-pointer, Hollister rolls the “threeeeeeee” for an extra second or five.
“Long enough to make a statement, but short enough not to be obnoxious,” he said. “But it really rattles the other crowd sometimes.”
Perhaps the biggest compliment he gets is when he hears people mimicking the way he calls out a name.
“When I hear that, I know they appreciate the way I’m doing it,” he said.
On Monday night, he will know how much he is appreciated when the Chieftains give him a sendoff.
Hollister expects it will be an emotional event.
To think, all the memories because way back in 1986, an announcer failed to show at a basketball game.
Turned out, it was a great break for the Columbia River Chieftains and Steve Hollister.