MRN Announcer Spotlight: Jason Toy
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on June 4, 2014 | 11:00 A.M. EST
Jason Toy can be often be seen sporting his green Marshall University visor on pit road. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
Get to know Jason Toy - Pit Road Reporter - in this week's edition of MRN Announcer Spotlight. Jason resides in Barboursville, WV and can be heard on NASCAR and TUDOR United SportsCar broadcasts.
Q: When did you first become interested in broadcasting?
Toy: I grew up in Florida racing with my dad and we always either sponsored, owned a car or he drove a Dirt Late Model at East Bay Raceway Park. I grew up always listening to MRN. I was a huge fan growing up with it and then it was something that kind of evolved for me. I started in high school hosting some events along with still going to the racetrack. When I got into college, I played football and when I got done with that, I wanted to pursue broadcasting so I started with the radio station and it evolved from that - working with student and local radio until I got an opportunity to audition for MRN.
Q: After sending audition tapes to the Motor Racing Network, what do you remember about the process leading up to your first race with MRN?
Toy: John McMullen - general manager at the time - brought me into Bristol (Tenn.) and I got to meet everybody - Barney Hall, Allen Bestwick and others. I was in awe. He said, "Find a racetrack somewhere, sit in the stands and call a race" because all I had prior to that was football and basketball. I found a local short track next to my house. It was an historic track that NASCAR used to run at many moons ago. I started working on the P.A. for free. We actually had a little radio, an FM transmitter set up, so we did a little radio call. I was able to build up enough, I sent it back and David Hyatt brought me into Martinsville. I was told to practice all week learning the Modified series. So I'm studying and this is, of course, before the internet took off and I’m trying to research all these drivers that I don’t know anything about. I got pretty good on researching them and then it rained the whole weekend. The only time it didn't rain was Cup "Happy Hour" on Saturday and that was when I auditioned. It was great. I auditioned in the turn and I knew all the drivers. They had Allen Bestwick and Winston Kelley in the booth. A couple weeks after that, I was working my first race at Bristol Motor Speedway - doing the Truck Series race in the turn on top of the suites with Mike Bagley and Fred Armstrong in the booth. The race was the Loadhandler 200 and Ron Hornaday Jr. led from the drop of the green to the checkered.
Q: What is the No. 1 thing you do in your approach to a broadcast?
Toy: Be prepared. If I'm doing pit road, you might only have 12 drivers that are in your area. But you need to know something on everybody. So always have something on somebody. Always go in with that approach, but also have fun. When you're relaxed and having fun, it comes across like that on the air and I think people enjoy that. It works in with the flow.
Q: Who were some of your broadcasting role models growing up?
Toy: On the racing side, it’s Eli Gold, Mike Joy and Barney Hall. Marty Brennaman was always a big idol of mine. He’s the voice of the Cincinnati Reds.
Q: Tell me about your football playing days and how did that shape you into who you are today?
Toy: I went to a high school in Florida and we didn’t have a winning record. I wasn’t a great athlete. I was slow, but I had size going for me and I loved the game. When I left, I wanted to try and keep playing. I always wanted to go to Marshall University. My dad was from West Virginia and I just loved it up there. I fell in love with the school when they played the 1987 (I-AA) championship game. I stayed awake trying to watch it - I was out in Boise, Idaho. I knew that’s where I wanted to try and go, and they gave me an opportunity to walk-on and I did. I made the team for a couple years as a tight end. I played behind All-Americans so I was a human blocking dummy for a lot of practices. It was a great opportunity. It helped me grow as a man and it taught me a lot. It's funny because I just went back to our spring game a couple weeks ago and my old coach that brought me in is still on the staff. I thanked him because he was really hard on me. Like I said, I wasn’t the greatest athlete. I was running routes slower or whatever, but I still gave it 110 percent. I thanked him for pushing me hard because it kind of made the man I am today.
Q: You grew up in Florida, so did you go to Daytona International Speedway a lot?
Toy: Along with growing up with my dad racing Dirt Late Models, we would always go to the Firecracker 400. One of my firsts was in 1985. We drove over from Tampa the morning of the race. We didn’t have tickets. We bought them when we got there. The only tickets we could get were the front row. What I remember is that I went up to the fence to see. I kept poking my head up from the seat. I think I was 11 at the time. I remember Tim Richmond wrecked in front of me and my dad said he saw me a second and then I disappeared in the smoke from the wreck. The next year, we were up higher and every year we went to the Firecracker 400. Along with Daytona, my dad and I would also go to the NHRA Gatornationals.
Q: Outside of racing and working for MRN, what are some of the things you like to do?
Toy: I have two kids and that keeps me going most of the time. They will be 14 and 10 this summer. Most of the time is spent with them, but my other job from MRN is that I have six radio stations I run back in Huntington, W.V., and that occupies most of my time Monday through Friday.
Q: Past or present, what is your favorite restaurant you like to visit circling around a NASCAR race?
Toy: I miss going to Memphis for Corky's Barbeque. Babe's in Fort Worth, Texas, is also good. I got my first introduction to Babe's last year.
Be sure to check back every Wednesday for the latest MRN Announcer Spotlight.
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