By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
The signature public address announcer for D.C. sports has passed away. Shellie Bowers, who was best known for his trademark phrase “HU…you know” during football and basketball games at Howard University succumbed December 4. He was 55 years old.
Bowers was an innovator in public address announcing by entertaining fans when behind the microphone during games. In 30 years as the public’s in-house voice of local sports events, the tone of his unique delivery became a fixture at college and high school events around the District of Columbia and in Maryland.
He was the PA voice for the Kenner League at Georgetown during its annual summer league basketball tournament games and was the longtime voice of the Turkey Bowl and the DCIAA basketball championships as well. Bowers personality behind the microphone was so unique he was missed when not calling these signature events.
“Nobody ever did what he did the way he did it,” Ed Hill, the former sports information director at Howard University who gave Bowers his first chance at public address announcing told the AFRO “He was a straight up dude who touched a lot of people’s lives. He loved D.C.”
Bowers impact on the community was expressed through comments on various social media. He was more than just an announcer. Bowers was a talented communicator who connected with students during a career that spanned 30 years with three high schools, including his alma mater Wilson High, where he was briefly an assistant baseball coach and media instructor. He also was attendance counselor at Ballou and School Without Walls.
“Shelly was a mentor of mine when I was at Wilson. This is so sad,” said former Wilson student and Sirius/XM broadcaster Ari Russell on Facebook. “What a great kind man. He always showed loved to me along the way.”
He was known as an inspiration to young broadcasters, PA announcers, athletes and aspiring comedians. Bowers’ Shel Shocked Productions produced DCIAA events that aired on D.C.’s community access cable TV service.
However, Bowers was a fixture on the local comedy scene developing as a stand up act that played Takoma Station and Chinatown’s RFD Restaurant and Sports Grille. In a business where peers are reluctant to give others respect for the content of their performances, Bowers earned his for more than just the material he performed.
“Even if you had a bad set the most important to Shellie was the fact you got on stage,” said comedian Ralph Cooper, who hosted the comedy showcase at RFD.
Cooper was one of the understudy’s in the media and comedy game who was inspired by his work in broadcasting for a brief time on WKYS-FM and on public address. When Bowers arrived on the scene and inquired about performing it was a form of validation for Cooper’s fledgling comedy enterprise.
“When he came to RFD I liked that because I looked up to him,” Cooper said. “That was big to me because I remembered listening to him on the radio when I was growing up around here. I knew who [Shellie] was just like I knew who [Lazy] Lamont King was.”
The impact of Bowers death has also sent tremors throughout the HBCU sports world. While he was most associated with Howard athletics Bowers attended Grambling before graduating from UDC. Bowers was an annual fixture at the Bayou Classic and it was the chance meeting with Grambling’s legendary coach Eddie Robinson that led to his most gratifying accomplishment when he performed the PA announcing for the Thanksgiving weekend Louisiana rivalry game in the New Orleans Superdome.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time.