CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When you first turn on a Carolina Panthers radio broadcast this year, you’re going to hear an unfamiliar voice.
That voice — the new voice of the franchise — belongs to radio play-by-play announcer Anish Shroff. In a position that has only changed over once every 14 years, Shroff will take over what he calls a dream job. His first game for Carolina will come Saturday, when he calls the Panthers’ preseason 1 p.m. contest at Washington.
Shroff already does play-by-play for college sports on ESPN and will also keep that TV job, which will necessitate some busy travel each weekend during the fall. Frequently, Shroff plans to broadcast a college game on Saturday for ESPN, then fly or drive to wherever the Panthers are to call their Sunday game.
It’s the sort of ambitious schedule that Shroff, 40, has long envisioned. He has imagined becoming a team radio play-by-play man ever since he and his brother were listening to baseball games at night in their shared bedroom in New Jersey.
The Shroff family didn’t have cable. So unless the game was on network TV, Anish Shroff was listening to it on the radio, forming pictures in his mind based on whatever the play-by-play announcer was saying. The words, to him, felt like magic.
“You’d get a feel for the cadence,” Shroff said, “and the words they would use. The way they would find different ways to say the same thing over and over. There was a science to it — the basics. The score. The situation. The moment. But there was also an art — the manipulation of language. I loved all of that.”
Shroff wanted to practice his own play-by-play, even then. So as a kid, Shroff would do play-by-play of video games he and his brother were playing, or of his friends’ pickup basketball games.
“He was good at it even back then,” Nilay Shroff, Anish’s younger brother, said with a laugh. “But it could be a little annoying.”
The Shroff parents, Hitesh and Nikita, immigrated from India in the 1970s. Their two sons were then born and raised in New Jersey. As a sports junkie from an early age, Anish Shroff loved the library, where he wanted to routinely go to check out sports-related books. His mother made him a deal, though — for each sports book he read, he had to read one non-sports book that she picked out.
“I hated it at the time,” Shroff said, “and I love her for it now. I’d read something like ‘Great Football Teams from the 1970s’ and she’d go, ‘OK. And here’s Wuthering Heights.’ But then one day we’re broadcasting a game in a backdrop of a snowstorm and I could say, ‘It’s like somebody ripped a page out of Emily Bronte.’ So thanks, Mom.”