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Answering The Call: Jason Horowitz is living his dream as Raiders play-by-play announcer

By Rachel Gossen | Digital Managing Editor

Like a young player dreaming of his phone ringing on draft night, it was a call Jason Horowitz was waiting for nearly his whole life.

This is the Las Vegas Raiders. We're considering you for the role of our play-by-play radio announcer. Are you interested?

"I never actually thought I'd get the job," Horowitz admits now. "And then a week later, I got a text message [reading], 'Hey, you're our guy.'

"Aside from the fact that I didn't know how to respond to that text message — Do I smiley-face it? Do I [use the] like emoji? I was sitting at dinner with my wife, Karen, and just kind of screamed a little bit."

For a talkative kid who grew up in Michigan listening to the likes of Detroit announcers George Blaha and Ernie Harwell, it was the job: being the voice of a team.

"My brother tells stories all the time of how he would leave us playing video games in the family room because I wouldn't stop talking," Horowitz says, as a smile spreads.

"I would broadcast our video games and annoy the crap out him, and then he would leave. So, as far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a play-by-play announcer."

When he met Karen, his wife of now 14 years, in college at Syracuse, it was clear to her there was something special about this charismatic, driven guy with a passion for sports.

"You can just hear how much he loves doing what he's doing," she says. "I don't think there's anything else that he could be doing. … When you hear him, he is creating a story for people.

"And I don't know that Jason knows how to use Excel very well, so I don't think he could ever have a desk job."

Years of aspiring led Horowitz to choose Syracuse University's broadcast journalism program as where he would continue to pursue his dream job.

He just didn't know those last two words would become literal during his senior year.

In the early 2000s, at the height of America's reality TV show era, ESPN jumped aboard the trend with "Dream Job," a competition show designed to find the next anchor of SportsCenter.

Like the smash reality success "American Idol," auditions were hosted in cities around the country, and after absorbing every second of the first season, Horowitz knew he had to take a chance on himself. So he drove down to Washington D.C., from upstate New York, crashing on a friend's floor, and stood in a line wrapped around what is now the Capital One Arena just to have a shot in the audition room.

A few weeks and one more audition later, Horowitz was making his television debut.

"It was stressful, actually," Horowitz says. "I was a senior in college. I was going back and forth between Syracuse and New York City. … But at the end of the day, the whole goal was still the same. 'Hey, let's be an ESPN employee. Let's work on SportsCenter.' And although I didn't win, it definitely jumpstarted my career."

Horowitz finished in the final four of his season, getting eliminated on Election Night 2004 with his mom, Sharon, and his grandfather in the audience.

Sharon, who passed in 2016, was his biggest fan – although it depends who you ask because his father David will try to claim that title as well.

"They were always telling everybody what I was doing," Horowitz says. "High school game that I was broadcasting, a college game I was broadcasting … They were front and center for all of it."

"I'm really lucky," he adds. "I've had a lot of family support my entire life."

Oakland Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon (12) during a home game at Network Associates Coliseum in 2000, in Oakland, Calif.

While Horowitz may not have started at the Worldwide Leader in Sports, he joined CBS Sports out of college as the host for a new internet video series – CBS SportsLine.

"A half-hour show on the internet in 2005? I'd be willing to bet eight people watched. But it was an unbelievable opportunity."

From there, Horowitz branched out at CBS, calling college football and college basketball, including NCAA Tournament games. He also got opportunities to broadcast with Westwood One, Big 10 Network, SiriusXM and finally – in a full circle moment – ESPN.

And yet, the job has always been the same: being the voice of a team.

"In the history of football, particularly the history of the NFL, there are 32 franchises, so there are only 32 of these jobs," he says. "There are certain franchises that stand out in the history of the NFL more than others, and there's no question that the Raiders are in that upper echelon of the history of importance of this league."

Longtime sportscaster Jim Gray, who met Horowitz years ago through Westwood One, was one of many to see the inate ability in Horowitz to perfectly describe and give context to a play as it unfolds in a genuine manner.

"He just has amazing likability," Gray says. "He has tremendous credibility because of his preparation. And his voice is terrific. When I was asked my opinion, it wasn't hard for me. I said, 'This is a guy you should talk to. This is a guy who I think is really, really good.' And I knew him as a human being.

"He's the same guy when he's with his friends or with strangers who he's just meeting. He's not putting on a show for either his audience or for those who happen to be in person."

Along with weekly preparations of storylines, learning opponents and other game prep, Horowitz is a father of three kids 10 years old and under. It can be a challenge during the season to balance home life in New Jersey and work life on the road.

"The schedule of a sportscaster can be intense, and there's a lot of travel involved and time away from home," Karen says. "Jason could very easily say, 'You know what, I'm going to do this game, and then I'm going to stay at the hotel and get a good night's sleep, and then I'll come back the next day.'

"But he is putting everything he has into broadcasting for the Raiders, and then sometimes he's taking a redeye home that night so that he can walk the kids to school the next morning."

Such hardships are worth it in Karen's eyes to see her husband fulfilling his passion.

"When the kids and I are listening to him broadcast a game, you just hear that he was meant to do this. I think having a partner in your life, where their happiness and seeing their success fills you up, what's better than that?"


After one year in the booth with the Silver and Black, Horowitz learned Raider Nation isn't just on the West Coast; it's worldwide.

"People would come up to me in New Jersey — I got stopped near my in-laws' house in Philadelphia, like, 'Oh, I grew up a Raiders fan, and I can't wait to hear your call.' … I think meshing with Raider Nation is easy no matter where you are. Because Raider Nation literally is everywhere."

That responsibility isn't something he takes lightly. He wants to be more than a pair of eyes and a voice to those who tune in. He wants to be familiar. He wants to be passionate. He wants his excitement to extend into the living rooms, cars or wherever else Raider Nation is listening.

"My style is as genuine as possible. It comes across sometimes probably a little more excitable than it always has to be. But it's pretty genuine."

What is Horowitz's goal entering Year 2? Deepen that bond with Raider Nation.

"Every broadcast I open with, 'Hey, folks, how are you?' And I end it with, 'Take care, folks.' There are different reasons for why it started, with things from my mom back in the day, but it's kind of just like a welcome. You're one of us. And I will see you soon."

As that little kid from Detroit found his voice, one thing hasn't changed: the love Jason Horowitz has for the game.

"As an adult, you come across so many people who just – their job is whatever. … You ask them what their hobbies are, and it's always sports. That's how they like to do the extra. But for me, my work is the extra. I'm always very appreciative of the opportunity to work in sports, the opportunity particularly to work in something that everybody is focused on every weekend, the NFL, and my love of all that hasn't changed.

"I hope that I fit in with this franchise for a long time to come."

Photos courtesy of the Horowitz Family.

View photos of Raiders' radio play-by-play announcer Jason Horowitz through the years.

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