When the voice of public address announcer Mike Jakubowski booms through the cavernous Bradley Center, the echoes go all the way back to his childhood parish in West Allis.
Flub a sponsor’s announcement or mispronounce a player’s name, and there’s nowhere to hide.
In that very public setting, Jakubowski calls upon the influences that shaped his life and his career – things like family, his Catholic education and a lengthy resume with some of the top sports organizations.
“It’s a realization over time of the building blocks that made you who you are,” he said.
Jakubowski is about to embark on his ninth season as announcer for Marquette University men’s basketball. He’s also worked the mic for MU women’s games at the Al McGuire Center for four years.
Jakubowski’s primary job since 2008 is as cross marketing and multimedia specialist for the Professional Bowlers Association. He hosts webcasts, directs social media and works with sponsors for the PBA, headquartered in Seattle.
He travels some 20 weeks a year for tournaments and special events, forcing him to miss an occasional MU game.
Attending Mass every weekend can be challenging with his schedule, admitted Jakubowski.
When home, Jakubowski goes to his childhood parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary in West Allis, or attends Church of the Gesu on Marquette’s campus.
He returned to Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish one evening last summer for a lively discussion of spirituality in the workplace.
“What I was able to present was, here’s a product of your community who took all the elements taught to him both within the context of the church and outside it,” explained Jakubowski.
(Submitted photos courtesy Marquette University Athletics)
The presentation sparked “very positive feedback,” according to Kathy Smith, young adult and adult ministry director for the West Allis cluster parishes who organized the event.
“He talked about all the people who were influential as coaches and mentors,” said Smith. “We think he should be talking to our kids about how all these influences as a kid had an impact.”
Jakubowski, 47, is the eldest of three children of Joyce and the late Tom Jakubowski. The couple served in many volunteer and committee capacities at IHM and founded the marching kazoo band that entertained parade-goers in West Allis for years. Joyce Jakubowski is currently a member of the pastoral council.
“The family has a delightful history with the parish,” said Smith.
Jakubowski said his upbringing was built around a strong work ethic, noting that his father called in to work sick only twice in 35 years.
“They never wasted anything, and they taught me the importance of taking care of things and valuing what you work for,” he said. “It sticks with me.”
Jakubowski graduated from Nathan Hale High School before going on to Marquette University, where he studied broadcast journalism. His previous jobs include time with the United States Bowling Congress and 10 years with the Milwaukee Brewers. He points to the Brewers’ Bob Betts, Robb Edwards and Bob Uecker as important influences on his career.
Make no mistake, however, Jakubowski bleeds MU blue and gold.
“We get lots of compliments on our game-day atmosphere, and Mike is a huge part of that,” said Kimberly Mueller, an assistant athletic director at MU. “A good announcer has to know the game of basketball but also understand the entertainment side, and he definitely has a solid grasp on both.”
One of Jakubowski’s favorite memories is of Marquette’s first home game in the Big East Conference.
The Golden Eagles were playing the nation’s No. 2-ranked team and prevailed, 94-79.
“Steve Novak dropped 41 points on Connecticut,” recalled Jakubowski. “I’ve never heard it as loud as it was that night. We just blew them out of the building.”
From his courtside seat, Jakubowski finds himself in awe of the players’ quickness and energy, and the coaches’ intensity.
“The thrill of being in an exciting moment and having that crowd lift you up as you’re concentrating on what you’re doing, it’s just so much fun,” he added.