RACINE — After getting a new job, Jesse Booker didn’t expect to have his first week off of work. But after the Racine Raiders’ first game was canceled, Booker got to stay home last week.
But on Saturday, his ever-energetic voice was finally heard by more than 1,000 fans as the new public-address announcer at Horlick Field as the minor-league Raiders kicked off their 2019 season with a 53-18 win over the Grand Rapids Seminoles.
Booker is one of those guys who does a little bit of everything, but tries to be a positive force no matter what he’s doing.
“I’m just about spreading peace and positivity, man, in a community that can be overrun with negative information,” said Booker, a father of four. “Any kind of energy is contagious. You get out what you put in. We want to make it as fun for the 6-year-old as we do for the 80-year-old veteran who gets in for free. Football games are something that’s special to our community. And it’s important that we make all four quarters entertaining for those in attendance.”
He isn’t getting paid for his announcing talents, but doesn’t mind.
Booker’s favorite moments in announcing occur when he’s working at youth sporting events, which started a few years back at Racine Youth Sports Super Bowls, then dunk contests at the Gus Macker basketball tournaments, and youth basketball games at St. Rita and St. Lucy schools. In 2018-19, Booker took over the announcing duties for boys and girls basketball at Horlick High School, and will be announcing Horlick football in the fall, too.
“The look on a child’s face when he hits a 3-pointer in a gym that’s usually silent, for them to hear me say their name and get excited, is something you can’t duplicate,” he said.
Booker is anticipating similar moments with the Raiders, even if the players are grown up: “When these players score a touchdown, Mom and Dad get to hear their baby’s name screamed from the speakers. We want the fans to get excited.”
Two years ago, Booker contacted to the Raiders to see if they needed a PA announcer. They had one at the time. But this spring, Booker’s number got called.
“It’s been a slow go, man, but we’re picking up steam now and I’m just happy to being involved in all of the different aspects and opportunities that I get,” he said, amped to start his season. “I’m excited to make my debut.”
In April, Booker shared a promo video online, filmed by local videographer Justin Christensen of JY Films. In it, Booker stands alone on the 100-year-old Horlick Field grass, facing the empty bleachers, before turning around and yelling for the camera: “Raider Nation let’s go!”
Booker, who works in customer service at Cree Lighting, is also the leader of Rapcine, a social media page and movement devoted to the positive things going on around Racine.
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“Rapcine is basically a platform to promote anything good in the community. It started out as a website helping local artists get exposure with music,” Booker explained. “And the more I grew in the community and the more things I saw I could positively impact … the more it’s started to grow away really from just focusing on music to focus on making an impact in different avenues to try and help out as many people as possible.”
He also organizes the annual Racine’s Got Talent contest at the Dr. John Bryant Community Center and put together three Santa Does Exist fundraisers, which collected more than $10,000 to help families in need during the holidays between 2015 and 2017.
“Any kind of energy is contagious. You get out what you put in. We want to make it as fun for the 6-year-old as we do for the 80-year-old veteran who gets in for free.” Jesse Booker, Racine Raiders public-address announcer