ICYMI The Week on Front Row PLUS: Mike Jakubowski has talent to spare as ESPN’s PBA voice, rock musician

Mike is on the right, Randy Pedersen left, Kimberly Pressler center.

(l-r) ESPN’s PBA commentators Randy Pedersen, Kimberly Pressler and Mike Jakubowski (PBA LLC)

Mike Jakubowski is calling ESPN’s 34th season of PBA action, alongside PBA Hall of Famer Randy Pedersen and former Miss USA Kimberly Pressler. The next installment is the World Series of Bowling V Chameleon Championship (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). The veteran announcer spends his “spare” (rim-shot) time working on his music. Front Row caught up with Jakubowski to get the details on bowling and his recording project.

What do you think about the use of blue-tinted oil during ESPN’s World Series of Bowling telecasts? Is it helping your calls?
Like the first-down line in football and the “hole” card in poker, the new blue oil gives viewers an unprecedented look at the only defense in bowling. The blue oil is a great visual cue to accompany our interpretation of the action. The visible oil provides context for the viewer, yet for the bowler, it is still all about feel and watching the ball react to the lane and oil transition. This allows viewers to “play along.”

How did you get your start in bowling and announcing?
It began in the ninth grade [in Wisconsin] – I gave the school’s morning announcements, participated in junior bowling and watched the PBA Tour on ABC. Then in 1997, I was a producer for the World Team Challenge series and had the opportunity to call action on national TV with Hall of Famer Earl Anthony. In that year, I called a 300 game in the Masters and bowled one of my own. Fast forward to 2013, I’ve had five years with the PBA’s Xtra Frame and now the opportunity to call play-by-play with Randy on ESPN. An amazing journey.

You’ve worked previously alongside Randy Pedersen. How has your working relationship evolved?
I was the first commentator to work with Randy, in 1997. We were both fairly green. Randy only had 11 PBA Tour titles then, but he possessed all the tools for television. The stars lined up in 2010 when we worked the GEICO PBA Team Shootout. Randy has a flair for personality and a humorous touch. I worked with him then — and now — to focus and showcase his expert knowledge of the game and the people who excel at pro bowling.

Many may not know you have a side project, Mike J. “Laneside” With The Front 4, as a recording artist. Describe your musical style.
I was the tour manager for the group, Los Straitjackets, in 2006-07 and have always been a fan of 1960s-style, guitar-influenced garage rock. I wrote “Beer Frame Judy” as a way to fill the void of songs about bowling in pop culture. “No Bueno” was inspired when I lost my voice for a week at the 2011 World Series of Bowling.

By Tara Chozet

ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row

• One of the few things ESPN commentators love more than sports is their pets. Meet 12 ESPN pets and their owners.

• “Awesome, baby, with a capital A!” Colleagues help Dick Vitale celebrate the start of his 35th season on ESPN.

• Go behind the scenes with Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson during his undercover day at Tim Horton’s for a piece on Sunday NFL Countdown.

• Before the Chicago Bears retired his No. 89 jersey on MNF, ESPN’s Mike Ditka shares memories of his Chicago heyday.

Row of Four
Our favorites from across ESPN over the past week

• By Ian O’Connor: A year after the Newtown, Conn. tragedy, Giants star Victor Cruz is thankful to have touched the lives of the Pinto family

Matthew Berry: Jim Valvano’s words to live by

• By Richard Lapchick: Love for Nelson Mandela was universal. It showed as the rainbow culture mourned.

• Enjoy an array of photos from the ESPN Images’ Images of the Week.

  • Barry Rahmy

    As if the blue lane oil wasn’t enough, love Los Straitjackets!