The Hawks are replacing Ryan Cameron with Big Tigger as in-game announcer at State Farm Arena after 20 years of service with the team, 17 of them as the announcer.
Cameron, who now is an afternoon jock at Majic 107.5/97.5, joined the Hawks in 2001 running around the stands playing games with customers. In 2004, he took over the mic and missed almost no games, covering more than 700 home games, including playoff runs.
Steve Koonin, CEO of the Hawks, said in an interview Tuesday that this was a synergy issue with Audacy, the company that airs the Hawks games on 92.9/The Game on the radio and also owns V-103 where Tigger is morning host. Cameron no longer works for Audacy since Majic 107.5/97.5 is owned by Radio One.
Tigger, whose real name is Darian Morgan, has been the in-game DJ for several years for the Hawks. Tenitra Batiste, a host and reporter at the Game, will be part of the in-arena show as an analyst.
“Ryan is fantastic,” Koonin said. “We love him. But this is 21st century media, and we need to be vertically integrated. That means using on-air talent with the Game and V-103.”
Rick Caffey, who runs Audacy in Atlanta, added this comment in a press release: “This is a great opportunity to have our talent have a more visible presence at State Farm Arena during Hawks games.”
Cameron, for much of his 30-year radio career, was at V-103, which has been owned by different companies over the years. Entercom, recently renamed Audacy, purchased what had been CBS Radio in 2017. Cameron left V-103 in early 2018 to pursue other ventures but decided to return to radio with Majic later that year.
The Atlanta native changed the way in-game announcers worked, injecting a level of panache unheard of before his arrival. He would introduce places like a boxing announcer, elongating the names of the players with a flourish during introductions. He turned 3-point shots into a signature “threeeee!” hitting a falsetto that gave attendees an extra jolt of excitement.
“I’ve always been a fan,” Cameron told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2015. “I have this button. I can’t talk until I hit this button. (Producers) tell me to calm down because I get so excited about the game.”
Cameron on Wednesday declined to comment about losing this gig.
On air when he did his first shift on Majic since the news broke, he said, “The city speaks for me,” adding that it was clearly a business decision, not a performance decision.
For now, he will continue to do in-game announcing for the Falcons, which also airs on 92.9/The Game.