Jon Laaser, an STAA member since 2008, is the new football and basketball play-by-play voice at Virginia Tech.
One of the nation’s rising broadcasting stars, Laaser (pronounced “laser”) has been covering Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball and Virginia Commonwealth basketball. He brings to Blacksburg a great appreciation for the history and tradition of Virginia Tech Athletics along with a smooth delivery that set him apart from a talented field of candidates from across the country.
“Jon Laaser is the right man for Virginia Tech,” Director of Athletics Whit Babcock said. “IMG presented us with a highly-skilled pool of prospects for this position. We were impressed, but not surprised by the volume of national interest in our play-by-play job. We are confident that Hokie Nation will embrace Jon’s passion and enthusiasm for Virginia Tech Athletics.”
“Jon brings a complete package to the booth at Virginia Tech – a big-league voice, conversational delivery and great attention to detail,” said Chris Ferris, VP of Broadcasting for IMG. “The Voice of the Hokies is also an important representative in the community, and Jon’s natural charisma, strong work ethic, and willingness to go the extra mile will be a strong asset to the team at IMG and Virginia Tech.”
Laaser will be heard on more than 30 Virginia Tech IMG Radio Network affiliate stations from Washington, DC to Bristol, Tenn., beginning this fall as he joins longtime analyst Mike Burnop in the booth for Virginia Tech football. His first game assignment will be the 2015 season opener against defending national champion Ohio State at Lane Stadium.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Laaser said. “As a broadcaster you dream about the chance to call just one game from places like Lane Stadium and Cassell Coliseum. I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet that I’ll be announcing every football and men’s basketball game from these historic venues. Bill Roth has set the bar incredibly high. He’s an impossible act to follow, but I certainly aspire to live up to his lofty standards.”
Laaser brings a wide range of football, basketball and baseball announcing experience to his new post as “The Voice of the Hokies.” The Minnesota native joins Virginia Tech after spending the last four years working as a television and radio broadcaster for VCU basketball. His resume includes work with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants and television assignments including partnering with analyst John Feinstein on Comcast Sportsnet Washington.
Recognized by his peers as an emerging talent, longtime FOX Sports and Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman was one of several prominent sports figures who endorsed Laaser along with “Voice of the Minnesota Vikings” Paul Allen and San Francisco Giants general manager Bobby Evans.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that Jon will go down as one of the greats in the state of Virginia, not just Virginia Tech,” Brennaman said. “You’re very, very lucky to have Jon Laaser, and he’s very, very lucky to have you. He’s going to be great. I hope you enjoy his work. I think you will.”
Brennaman’s family owns strong ties to Virginia Tech Athletics. His father, Marty – a Portsmouth native, was named “The Voice of the Hokies” in 1973 after serving as a radio and TV announcer for the Virginia Squires of the ABA. The elder Brennaman departed Blacksburg to take a broadcasting post with the Cincinnati Reds, a role now held by his son.
You can now add Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer and Buzz Williams among the growing list of Laaser’s admirers, as well.
“I was pleased to be involved in the search process and can assure everyone that we interviewed numerous talented and impressive candidates,” Tech’s football coach indicated. “With Jon, I’m confident we’ve landed, not only a quality broadcaster, but someone who’ll work hard to be a respected representative of this university and this program.
“This position is vital because it serves as a direct link to our fans and the overall image of Virginia Tech,” Beamer added. “I predict that Jon will make a quick and strong connection with the Hokie Nation, and I look forward to working with him.”
“On behalf of everyone associated with Virginia Tech basketball and Hokies everywhere, we extend a warm welcome to Jon Laaser as “The Voice of the Hokies,” said Williams.
“I really respect the fact that Jon has earned this opportunity the old-fashioned way,” Tech’s men’s basketball coach continued. “He’s worked hard and I appreciate that about him. There’s no doubt that he’s smart and full of enthusiasm. Plus, he’s got a great voice. I am looking forward to working with him. We’re all glad he’s part of our team.”
Working for Hampton Roads Sports Network in 2014-15, Lasser served as lead play-by-play broadcaster for college, high school football and basketball telecasts featuring schools throughout Virginia. He was also “The Voice of the Buccaneers” for the football and basketball programs of Charleston Southern from 2008-09, in addition to baseball broadcasting duties with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, which at the time was the Class A Advanced Affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.
His extensive minor league baseball background also includes stints with the Altoona Curve (Pirates AA affiliate), Yakima Bears (Diamondbacks short-season A affiliate), St. Paul Saints (independent) and St. Cloud River Bats (Northwoods League). Laaser’s professional career began in Minnesota with stints working for KFAN Radio in Minneapolis and KXSS Radio in St. Cloud as well with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.
Laaser is a graduate of Brown College in the Twin Cities.
Mike Burnop, Virginia Tech’s Hall of Fame network analyst, was also provided a multi-year contract extension. Burnop, a former star tight end for the Hokies, enters his 33rd season in the booth as a football analyst. He still holds the Virginia Tech record for receptions in a season by a tight end with 46.
“Mike is a valuable member of our Hokie Nation,” Babcock said. “His ties to the community, service to the Hokies coupled with his insights into the game made getting this contract extension a priority. I’m looking forward to the great work he and Jon will do in the booth for many years to come.”
“I’ve been very blessed to be with the program all of these years,” said Burnop.
“One day I am on the field catching passes and the next day I am in the booth talking about passes being caught. It’s been a great ride that I am thrilled to continue. Jon and I will be the next great team in the booth and I am looking forward to getting started this summer.”
(Visit Jon’s STAA Talent Page).