When President-elect Donald Trump officially takes over the White House in two weeks, his inaugural parade will be missing the legendary voice of 89-year-old Charlie Brotman, the announcer of every inauguration celebration since Dwight Eisenhower in 1957.
Brotman, who learned last week that he’ll be replaced by a younger, vocal Trump supporter, said he was “heartbroken” about the inauguration committee’s decision.
“I was destroyed,” he told local Washington D.C. news station WJLA. “I’ve been doing this for 60 years.”
Brotman, who has been the lead announcer for 11 presidents’ inaugural parades, will still be honored as the “announcer chairman emeritus,” according to a statement from the presidential inaugural committee’s director of communications, Boris Epshteyn. Brotman was offered a VIP seat as well.
But the new voice of the parade will be 58-year-old Steve Ray, a Trump campaign volunteer who’s also a local freelance announcer and audio engineer.
“We are thrilled for Steve Ray to be introducing a new generation of Americans to the grand traditions of the inaugural parade,” Epshteyn said in his statement. The job, according to a Washington Post report, is unpaid.
Brotman seemed to attribute the replacement as “ageism,” he said in an interview with The Daily Beast.
“Maybe they’re afraid I might drop dead at the mic,” he suggested.
But the inauguration icon, also known for his time as an announcer for the Washington Senators baseball team, said he wishes Ray the best on Jan. 20.
“I want [Ray] to do good,” Brotman told WJLA. “As opposed to, boy, I hope he fouls up so they say, ‘We want Charlie back.’ No. I don’t want that at all.”
“I’m saying, ‘You know what? Good luck, young man. I hope you do spectacular,’” he said.