It’s the end of a considerable era for Chicago Bears fans. The team’s longtime public address announcer, Jim Riebandt, worked his last game at Soldier Field in December when the Bears faced off against Kansas City.
He came to the team as a backup announcer in 1979 and started announcing full-time in 1982. Fans who have been to a game will recognize his voice from some of his signature call-and-response with the crowd.
Riebandt first started working as the late Chet Coppock’s backup announcer in 1979 and started announcing games full-time in 1982. Coming to the Bears with little professional experience, Riebandt says: “I was quite nervous doing that first game. (My bosses) were old-school football people, very strict.” He found his groove, and over the years says his style has become much more conversational and loose.
“I think (over the years) the fans realized I was one of them. I just happened to be describing the action,” said Riebandt, an attorney who also still works as one of the public address announcers for DePaul men’s basketball.
While Riebandt was ready to step away from the Soldier Field microphone, he says he doesn’t think anyone is ever “really ready” for retirement. Despite some standout matchups he remembers very clearly, for the most part he admits that “the games kind of all run together. But the personal relationships, the friendships … I’ll miss that the most. There’s no question.”