50 years and counting: Phil Porterfield enjoys being ‘Voice of the Vikings’

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Monday, January 2, 2023 | 1:43 PM


When Phil Porterfield was in high school at Mt. Pleasant, he hoped to be a radio disc jockey.

So when late Mt. Pleasant athletic director Sam Freed was looking for a public address announcer for football games, Porterfield thought he would give it a try.

Little did the then-junior know that his silky and smooth voice would fill the stadium air for 50 years. Porterfield, 65, celebrated his 50th season as Voice of the Vikings, this past football season.

The Mt. Pleasant School District recognized his service during the season.

“I thought being a dee jay could be my career,” Porterfield said. “It’s a long time to do anything, and I still love it.”

Porterfield started his career during the 1973 season when the Vikings played at Hurst Stadium in Norvelt.

“I thought I’d do it for a few seasons, but I liked doing it and I’d do it as long as they wanted me to,” Porterfield said.

Local radio dee jay Bob Dearborn and David Ray inspired Porterfield. He also was a stringer for the late Ralph Conde and would call in the results of Vikings games on WHJB’s scoreboard show.

But Porterfield didn’t end up becoming broadcaster. He got a job at Levin’s Furniture store in Mt. Pleasant.

The press box at Mt. Pleasant changed drastically at the new stadium.

“It was like a palace compared to Hurst,” Porterfield said. “It was still fun.”

Porterfield teamed with Ray Bann, a senior, his first season. He and Bann split halves.

“I remember being pretty nervous that first game,” Porterfield said. “I was worried that I would pronounce a name wrong. But being in front of a microphone came easy for me. I’ve been blessed to be able talk in front of people.”

Porterfield has enjoyed his time, especially the 1980s when Bill Elder had the Vikings winning championships.

“Phil does a professional job,” former Mt. Pleasant athletic director Ron Firment said. “There is no one better than him. Mt. Peasant is lucky to have him.”

Even after he retired from Levin and moved more than three hours away to Smethport in McKean County, Porterfield came back to do games on Fridays.

“We made it a weekend,” Porterfield said. “Driving back for a game one weekend, I told my wife maybe it’s time to give it up. She said you’re approaching 50 years, try to reach it.”

So he continued, and now he and his family have moved back to Pittsburgh.

Porterfield said his famous catch phrase is after the Vikings make a first down. He’s changed his inflection.

“I’d pause and then say ‘First down and 10 for the Vikings,’ ” he said.

When a running back would carry the ball he’d say: “Labuda. Pause. Smith on the tackle, a pickup of 8.”

Also during the 1980s, he would announce a random score of the North Marion Huskies, which is located near Fairmont, W.Va.

“The Huskies were really good. Someone would find their score and announce it,” Porterfield said. “I always liked when they played the East Fairmont Bees. Fans would remind me to announce their score.

“We copied it from Michigan. It used to always announce the Slippery Rock score.”

And though he finally reached the 50-year milestone, Porterfield said he plans to return next fall.

With a voice like his, he could continue for years.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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