Voice Acting

The Announcer’s Test

Ever heard of The Announcer’s Test?

One of my friends on Facebook happened to mention it to me and I thought you might be interested in learning more about this challenging yet fascinating elocution exercise.

This is the sort of thing that people wishing to enter into broadcast television and radio may encounter and warrants featuring and discussion amongst the voice over community.

Learn more in today’s VOX Daily!

What Does It Take To Be an Announcer?

Announcers have the exciting job and responsibility of sharing the news or providing commentary live without much time to review what has been handed to them to read. To be a professional announcer, one has to be quick on their verbal feet and on the ball so to speak to deliver a message clearly.

While some aspects of announcing can be rehearsed in the cases of award shows, game shows, and special events there are always surprises along the way that an announcer needs to be mentally prepared for in order to articulate on the go.
How do announcers prepare for cold copy live to air?

They train! The Announcer’s Test, as it is commonly referred to, originated in the 1940s at Radio Central New York employed as a cold reading test given to aspiring radio talent to demonstrate their reading ability.

The Announcer’s Test Involves:

  • Retention
  • Memory
  • Repetition
  • Enunciation
  • Diction
  • 10 factors that use every letter in the alphabet a variety of times

Here’s a Demonstration Courtesy of Wikipedia:

According to Wikipedia, Del Moore, a long time friend of Jerry Lewis’, took this test at Radio Central New York in 1941, and passed it on to him. Jerry has performed this test on radio, television and stage for many years, and it has become a favorite tongue-twister (and memory challenge) for his fans around the world.

Lyrics For The Announcer’s Test

  • One hen
  • Two ducks
  • Three squawking geese
  • Four limerick oysters
  • Five corpulent porpoises
  • Six pairs of Don Alverzo’s tweezers
  • Seven thousand Macedonians in full battle array
  • Eight brass monkeys from the ancient, sacred crypts of Egypt
  • Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity towards procrastination and sloth
  • Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.

Variations on a Theme

Others have created variations of The Announcer’s Test, even entirely new material in the same vein, compiling zany tongue twisters in the middle of relatively reasonable speech patterns. One such example is The Price is Right episode from September 15th, 1988 where announcer Rod Roddy (1937-2003) performed a number of “dreaded announcer tests” as he reveals the showcase packages.

I happened to find a video of Jerry Lewis reciting The Announcer’s Test. Enjoy!

Do You Recite The Announcer’s Test?

I’m curious to learn if this is something that you’ve come across before, and if so, how did you hear about the exercise and how often you use it?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes,
©iStockphoto.com/Andrey Tsidvintsev

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  • Avatar for Heather Jane Hogan
    Heather Jane Hogan
    February 24, 2010, 10:33 am

    LOL! That was a lot of fun – I tried the test and tripped up a few times! Jeez, I need to practice.
    Thanks for the interesting post, Stephanie!

  • Avatar for Peter K. O
    Peter K. O'Connell
    February 24, 2010, 11:49 am

    This begs the obvious question: who won the showcase?
    Best always,
    – Peter

  • Avatar for Ken Maxon
    Ken Maxon
    February 24, 2010, 12:25 pm

    That was fun. It reminded me of a day that I was running late. The network news had already run and the guy on the board opened the news with Good afternoon, it’s 4:05 and with the WPHB news, here’s Ken Owens… I swung into the chair as he swung out and gave the local news cold without missing a beat. Ah, the good old days. 🙂

  • Avatar for Candace
    February 24, 2010, 2:38 pm

    I’ll admit, I did OK until the last one. I tripped up pretty bad there. That was fun. I think I am going to work on this a little more.

  • Avatar for Carolyne
    February 24, 2010, 5:44 pm

    Haha, I came across a variation of the Announcer’s test in the late eighties or early nineties, cleverly disguised as a drinking game. I think I was the only person who made it to the end, and to my complete surprise, can apparently still recite it by rote!
    One fat hen
    Couple duck
    Three brown bear
    Four running hare
    Five fat, fickle females sitting sipping Scotch, smoking cigarettes
    Six simple Simon sitting on a stump
    Seven Sinbad sailors sail the Seven Seas
    Eight egotistical egoists echoing egotistical ecstasies
    Nine nude nublings nibbling nibblings of nuts, gnats and nicotine
    Ten, I’ll never be a fig-plucker or a fig-plucker’s son, but I’ll pluck those figs till the fig pluckers come.
    (Perhaps ironically, I am now on a trivia team with the unfortunate name of… well… something that results when you screw up #10.) 🙂
    I never knew the origin of this odd list; I’m thrilled to finally have a bit more of a clue as to its beginnings– thank you!

  • Avatar for Jay Lloyd
    Jay Lloyd
    February 25, 2010, 9:10 am

    I carry the “Announcer’s Test” in my DayTimer. I use it mostly to demonstrate to skeptics who think ‘just talking’ is not really A JOB.
    Listening to them try to read it always brings a smile to my lips!
    Jay Lloyd
    Benicia, CA

  • Avatar for Scott Schuster
    Scott Schuster
    March 1, 2010, 11:50 am

    Absolutely entertaining! I need to go practice…:)

  • Avatar for shawna
    March 2, 2010, 12:34 am

    I was a radio announcer for years. You know what they say about riding a bike. I used to do these sort of exercises before a show. Good luck to everybody.

  • Avatar for Emil
    January 6, 2011, 12:51 pm

    Question: As the word “quay” is actually pronounced KEE (as is the word “cay,” as in Cat Cay Island), was this put into the sequence as a “gotcha” to test the reader’s knowledge, or did the author of the test just get it wrong? Should future users of the test replace “quay” with a real KWA word such as “quark” (rhymes with “ark”)?

  • Avatar for Wild Bill Pollanger
    Wild Bill Pollanger
    April 29, 2013, 11:41 am

    OMG I haven’t seen this in years and still can do it in one breath.. whewwwwwww

  • Avatar for Sheffey Gregory
    Sheffey Gregory
    December 1, 2019, 3:08 pm

    I first learned this in the 1960’s from a friend. I believe he memorized it off the Johnny Carson Late Show.

  • Avatar for Rachel Herman
    Rachel Herman
    February 14, 2023, 12:29 pm

    This test was used in about 1968 – 1970 for a radio contest.
    It was called, “The Password”. WRKO was a top 40 station at
    that time.
    The designated caller would have to recite it perfectly and
    if they did would win the cash award. I used to practice
    but never got through when I called. Just as well since
    they may have not allowed my participation – I was about
    12 years old. I suspected there was some back story to
    the “password” and thank you for providing this!
    Now, my 24 y/o son who works for iHeart as an engineer
    is seeking to move into announcing – his dream job. I will
    pass on your site to him.