Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers

Four tall coffee mugs, each with a television logo plastered on the front of the cup, sat in a row on a desk next to the television studios inside Moda Center.  Each one was filled three-quarters full with water, or sometimes coffee, for the four hosts inside the television set nearby.

Each week, as a local talk show was about to go live to air, the stage manager carried the four mugs, which he had recently washed by hand in a sink backstage, to the four hosts.

This particular stage manager, whose duties were to always assist the on-air talent and attend to their most random of needs, had at one time sat right where they sat, as a fill-in host in previous years.

Now, this script has been flipped.  

Those stage-managing days where Travis Demers took mugs of water to hosts is what makes Demers the ultimate guy-next-door. 

The scripts' new ending? 

The former stage manager ends up becoming the Trail Blazers newest radio play-by-play announcer.

THE YOUNGER YEARS

Demers interned at ABC Sports Radio his junior year, doing interviews and covering games, while studying Broadcasting at Long Island University. Demers then did a second internship with ABC Sports Radio his senior year.

A month after he graduated, they hired him to produce “The ABC Sports Call,” which he had helped with during his internships. That was a taste of his first real sports radio job.

 

But, Demers had bigger aspirations.

He wanted to be in front of the camera, or at least in front of the microphone.

Enter… The state of Oregon, in the year 2003.

“The first job that I got was in Seaside and Astoria doing High School football games on the coast for 50 bucks a week. I did football once a week and I did basketball twice a week,” Demers said.

“When I first got here, I called up The FAN, I called up KXL and I spoke to a Sports Director named Jay Allen, Demers said with a smile.

That smile now signifies his long-standing relationship with Allen, who is now one of his counterparts at Rip City Radio.

But it was The FAN that hired Demers for some part-time work to go get postgame interviews at Oregon State football games.

After calling a Tillamook High School football game on a Friday night, Demers drove 91 miles down to Corvallis on Saturday for the Oregon State-New Mexico game.

At that Beavers game, Demers got a chance to network.

“I’m sitting next to Scott Lynn, who was a Sports Director at KEX. I told him my story and all that. He hired me to be a stringer for KEX, getting sound for Blazer games. So, starting with the first preseason game… they were paying me 25 bucks a night,” Demers said.

If the name Scott Lynn sounds familiar, it should.

Lynn filled in for former Blazers radio play-by-play announcer Brian Wheeler during a handful of games over the past few seasons, just as Demers had done last season. 

WHATEVER IT TAKES

After calling high school football and basketball games for one year, Demers started doing even more for The FAN.

In March of 2004, 1080 The FAN hired Demers to run the radio board for the Seattle Mariners games. He was doing that while still grabbing interviews for KEX at Blazers games.  And, of course, there were a few other jobs that helped Demers pay the bills.

Because as most who work in the business will tell you: Radio doesn’t pay much.  

Demers would run to the back room to get the shoe size people needed while he worked at ‘Champs Sports’ at the Lloyd Center Mall. He even did construction for a little while.

Whatever it took, Demers was looking to make a lasting impression in the sports radio world, but he still had to make sure he could pay his bills.

Portland natives may remember the Portland Lumberjax Lacrosse team. Demers was their radio play-by-play announcer.

He also was a traffic reporter for KATU.

Traffic was not even close to what he wanted to be doing, but hey, it was an on-air job.

“I was a traffic reporter on KATU for a year and a half on TV at 24-years-old, and I had no idea what I was doing,” Demers laughed.

Juggling multiple part-time jobs is not easy, and can make having any type of personal life very difficult.  

 

“There was one stretch when I was 23 or 24, over the course of six months where I had four total days off… It’s hard to have a personal life. It’s hard to have relationships when you’re never there,” Demers said.

Demers’ personal life went through a few tough breakups, but he stood by his work, and his work ethic.

Now fast forward to when Comcast SportsNet Northwest launched in 2007.  

Demers was a Sports Update Host and a behind the scenes director for CSNNW.

He had extremely long days being a Sports Update Host, while also doing all that it took behind the scenes that typically two to three crew members would handle.

It was just Demers though. He did the job of multiple production employees.  

“I was in the same room everyday from like five thirty in the morning to six at night.  Everyday. All year long. And then during football season, I would call games on Friday night and then I would host a Saturday morning football show, and then I would go down to Eugene or Corvallis, every week during football season,” Demers said. 

That’s what most people call ‘the grind' in the sports broadcasting industry.

That grueling schedule was Demers’ life for three and a half years.     

In March of 2011, he left Portland for a job at Sirus XM in Washington DC. After pursing that for 15 months, Demers got a call to come back to Rip City.

It was in June of 2012, when the ‘Travis and Wilcox Show’ launched on 1080 The FAN.  

THE STRUGGLE

The year was now 2014 and Demers’ hand was forced when he was without work for 10 months after 1080 The Fan canceled the 'Travis and Wilcox Show.'

“I got told the day before Thanksgiving 2014, that they were making a change,” Demers said. “They told me they were going to make a change, they were going to be putting me on at nights from seven to ten… They said it was for budget reasons, and that if I wanted to, I could do the show for the rest of the year.”

Demers did host the night show until the end of the year.

And then came the rough patch that many young adults go through.

“I was basically out of a full-time job from December of 2014 until October 2015. In that ten months, I needed to make money. I was collecting unemployment… I was coaching high school baseball,” Demers said.    

Demers was also able to work part-time as a trackside reporter for Emerald Downs horse racing.

But then one day, he got that phone call from NBC Sports Northwest.

On the phone was Coordinating Producer Adam Willis, offering Demers a part-time gig.

‘Okay, I’ll do it,’ was Demers' response to make some extra money as a stage manger.

“It was tough because it was on shows like Talkin’ Ball and Talkin’ Ducks and Talkin’ Beavers that I had hosted, and not to take anything away from people who do the stage managing job, but it was hard, it was really hard,” Demers said.

 

It was as if Demers went from starting on the varsity basketball team to then, in an instant, becoming the team manager, who had to hand out the water to those varsity players.

There was a feeling of moving backwards in Demers’ career. 

“It was really hard to watch other people doing the job that I had done, doing the job that I wanted to do, and know that, that’s not my place. My place is not to be up there. My place is to be back here and get the set ready, and get the water… I had to separate myself from that world to this world, and it was really hard at first,” Demers said.

Then in March of 2015, Rip City Radio was launching a morning show that Demers thought he would be in the mix to be the host.

But he wasn’t.

“I was pretty demoralized. ‘What am I gonna do?’,” Demers said.

WHEN IT ALL REALLY BEGAN

Eventually, with former Trail Blazers radio play-by-play announcer Brian Wheeler’s crazy NBA schedule, Rip City Radio needed to have a host to replace Wheels during the afternoon show.

Demers had previously filled in for Wheels on the show when the Blazers were in the playoffs or different times during the summer.

It was in October of 2015 that Demers was hired to takeover the afternoon show at Rip City Radio. He was set to host the Rip City Drive.

Things kept moving upwards when, in September of 2016, Demers was promoted to Assistant Program Direct at the station. And, in March of that year, Chad Doing joined Travis as his co-host for Rip City Drive.
It was all coming together.

Little did Demers know that after three years of hosting the Rip City Drive in Portland, he would then be walking into Moda Center this fall as the new radio voice of the Trail Blazers. 

PORTLAND IS NOW HOME

Demers couldn’t imagine that he’d be where he is right now, especially back in those days of bringing water to on-air talent at Comcast SportsNet. 

He never even thought he would truly be rooted in Portland, Oregon.

Until now.

The big opportunity rang when the Trail Blazers Director of Broadcasting came calling. 

“I got the call from Jeff Curtin two years ago the day before the Maccabi Haifa [preseason] game, ‘hey, can you call the Blazer game tomorrow?’ I’m like, ‘excuse me? You want me to call a Trail Blazers game on the radio? Yeah, I can make that work',” Demers chuckled.

Before that call, too much was up in the air.

“When I lost my job, I was trying to find something and I didn’t feel like my roots were going to be here,” Demers said.  

 

Enter Demers’ now wife, Hannah.

“When I met Hannah and we got married, there was always the possibility of moving, but when I got the job with [Rip City Radio], and all that, and I knew I’ve got job security now I thought maybe there might be someday where we'd move, but we’re going to be here for awhile,” Demers said.

The 37-year-old says he “never imagined” the Blazers' radio job would open up even after he got the opportunity to fill in for Wheels last season.

This past summer, Demers thought he would still need to pack up and move his wife and nearly one-and-a-half-year-old son wherever he could find a play-by-play job.

But not anymore.

“This really is the first time in my life that I can say, ‘alright, I’m here and I’m going to be here.’ I’ve never really ever been able to say that,” Demers said with a smile.

LIVING HIS BEST LIFE

To add to this perfect ending, Demers met his wife in a suite at Moda Center as they watched the Blazers host the Jazz.

It was a Sunday, February 21st. It was suite 7.

Demers remembers it like it was yesterday, even though he was not excited about it because it was a total setup by Demers’ co-workers.

Yet, it all really worked out.
“I didn’t watch any of the game because her and I were just talking the entire time,” Demers said with a grin.

A dream job.

A dream family.

Dreams definitely came true for Travis Demers.