From Eisenhower to Obama, Charlie Brotman's front-row seat to inaugural history
While dozens of celebrities have made it clear they will not perform at President-elect Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration, even if invited, there’s one man who desperately wants to be part of the festivities, but won’t.
For decades, Charlie Brotman has been the announcer for the inaugural parade, informing new presidents exactly which acts, bands or people are parading past him at any given moment. He first got the job in 1957 for Dwight Eisenhower’s second inauguration. Since then, he has announced 15 parades for 10 different presidents.
“I have never been asked my affiliation, whether I am a Republican, a Democrat or an independent,” Brotman said in an interview with McClatchy. “They don’t care who I am, they don’t care what I am. They just know I’ve been doing a professional job.”
But now Brotman, who is 89, is out as announcer, he has told media outlets. He received an email from Trump’s Inaugural Committee informing him his services will not be required come Jan. 20, he told the Washington Post.
“First and foremost, on behalf of the PIC Staff we want to thank you for your service to this country as the Lead Announcer for the Inaugural Parade,” the email to Brotman read. “There is no question that you are a Washington Institution and a National Treasure.”
But the committee has decided it will instead give the job to Steve Ray, a Washington D.C.-based announcer who has done work for Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals and other local radio stations. Ray was also a volunteer for the Trump campaign, per the Washington Post.
And while Brotman told WJLA that he hopes Ray does well, he described himself as “heartbroken” and “destroyed” that he would not be announcing Trump’s parade. It would have marked his 60th year on the job.
Instead, Trump’s Inaugural Committee announced in a statement that Brotman will be honored as “Announcer Chairman Emeritus” and has been offered a “prime-time seat” at the parade, per NBC 4. He has yet to decide whether he will accept Trump’s offer.
Brotman told WJLA that he thinks Ray received the job because of his prior support for Trump and Trump’s reputation for valuing and rewarding loyalty.
However, the Trump team’s decision did not violate any contract with Brotman. In the past, every four years, the new president’s team would reach out and formally ask him to announce the parade, but there was no guarantee he had the job, he told McClatchy in an interview before the decision was announced.
“Everybody is new,” he said. “Every four years, somebody contacts me. This is even newer than new with the new group coming in.”
Still, he said at the time that he expected “within the next two weeks everything will be pulled together and it'll go on like we've rehearsed it a thousand times.”
Now, he told WJLA, he is considering offers from other media outlets to assist with their inaugural coverage.
“I'm thinking - you know what, Charlie Brotman? You are one lucky son of a gun,” he said.