For Kirk Randazzo '94, the Carolina Band has had a monumental impact on his life. When he arrived at the University of South Carolina, he went from not knowing a soul to finding his home in the Carolina Band. In addition to making lifelong friends, many of whom he considers family, he also met his future wife Carol (Davis) Randazzo in the band.
Since 2010 Kirk has been the Voice of the Carolina Band. A true mentor to many, he recently shared thoughts about his band experiences from the past and present.
What is a typical gameday like as the Voice of the Carolina Band?
As the ‘Voice of the Carolina Band’ the typical gameday works very similar to the entire Carolina Band. I arrive to the Copenhaver Band Hall on Fridays for the Band’s rehearsal the night prior to games. During this time we run through both the pregame and halftime shows so that the students can hear my announcements and I can see their drill. The latter becomes incredibly important to me for halftime shows because I often cannot hear what the Band plays from the announcer’s booth in the pressbox. Therefore, I write down visual cues from the drill that let me know when one song ends so that I can immediately introduce the next one. On Saturdays I arrive at the same time as the Carolina Band (now at the indoor football practice facility, but previously at the Copenhaver Band Hall), which is approximately 6 hours prior to kickoff. We then have one final run of both pregame and halftime and I make some last minute edits to the script based on any changes that may have happened. After rehearsal, I walk with the Band to Gamecock Park for the pep rally where I introduce the songs played for our fans who come to hear us perform. Then it’s into Williams-Brice Stadium where I separate from the Band and head up to the pressbox to get ready for the pregame show. I meet with folks from the Athletics Department to discuss any special presentations they may have and I meet with the reverend, priest, or minister who is saying the invocation just before the Band plays the National Anthem. Once I finish announcing the pregame show, I walk down to where the Carolina Band sits to watch the first half of the football game and then head back up to the pressbox for halftime. After the halftime show, I move back to the Carolina Band and watch the game with them. I much prefer watching games from where the Band sits because I feel closer to the action on the field and I love listening to the Band.
What are some of your fondest memories of being a student and now a staff member?
Some of my fondest memories as a student in the Carolina Band involve road trips. One trip in particular took us to Knoxville, to play the University of Tennessee, and we spent the previous night in Gatlinburg. As we were unloading buses, Mr. Copenhaver came to me and handed me a large envelope. Inside were 30 tickets to a laser tag arena. Mr. Copenhaver simply said, “I don’t do laser tag so invite your friends and have a great time.” Another memory involves a road trip to Tallahassee, FL, for a game against Florida State University. We stopped for lunch at a rest area somewhere on I-75 and ate these premade sandwiches that contained some awful pickle slices. Well Carol decided she didn’t want the pickles so she grabbed one slice and threw it over her shoulder. Unfortunately, it stuck to the side of a stainless steel camper that was parked near the buses. We all thought that was the funniest thing we’d ever seen and the next thing I know 20 people are throwing pickle slices at this camper. By the time we left, one entire side of the camper had pickle polka dots littered across. I can only imagine what the owners thought when they came back and saw their camper.
Why does The Carolina Band mean so much to you?
It’s hard to identify just one reason why the Carolina Band means so much to me. Part of the answer involves how the Band made me feel at home when I arrived to the University of South Carolina from Brockport, N.Y. (a small town between Rochester and Buffalo). Since I traveled almost 1000 miles for college, I really didn’t know anyone on campus. From the very first day of band camp, the other members took an interest in me and invited me to various events and activities. Later on, I met an amazing girl (Carol Davis) who was a Coquette, and would eventually become my wife. Our wedding reception took place in Williams-Brice since it was the Band that brought us together. Most recently, when our 17 year-old son, Sam, passed away unexpectedly, it was the Band that stepped up to offer their love and support. Our closest friends (all Band members) took care of anything we needed, even if we didn’t realize it at the time. The current Band members sent flowers and notes of love through email, Facebook, and even hand-written cards. And, when we were finally able to hold a public Celebration of Life in Sam’s memory, the Carolina Band showed up to play ‘Amazing Grace/America the Beautiful’ and ‘Precious Lord Take My Hand.' Every time I think of that day, I am overwhelmed by the generosity of those students and the directors. It is absolutely true that the Carolina Band is family and I cannot thank them enough.
How has the band experience changed for you since the passing of your son, Sam?
Finally, I mentioned earlier about how the Band sent my family love and support after Sam passed away. That wasn’t all that was done. The Directors made Sam an Honorary Carolina Band Member and the Zeta Chi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi (a fraternity for which I am a Life Member and a Past National President) inducted Sam as an Honorary Brother. He has a brick in front of the Copenhaver Band Hall. And, when the Carolina Band plays ‘Amazing Grace/America the Beautiful’ at the end of each football game my eyes fill with tears as I remember Sam and how much he loved that song and loved the Carolina Band. There is no other organization (except for the band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi) that warms my heart and moves me to tears than the Carolina Band. Thank you for over 30 years of allowing me to belong to this family. I absolutely love everything about the Mighty Sound of the Southeast ... YOUR CAROLINA BAND!!!
Kirk has chosen to be a Section Sponsor for the University of South Carolina vs. Clemson football game on November 27 in support of the Carolina Band Legacy Fund.
Why did you choose to honor your wife as a Section Leader Sponsor for the Clemson game?
I chose to honor Carol by sponsoring the Coquette Section because this was her first opportunity to be part of a marching band. She graduated from a small high school in Columbia, SC, that did not have a band program. As a result she was a cheerleader throughout high school. When she came to South Carolina her experience in the Coquettes was the first time she had ever marched. If the Coquettes hadn’t existed then Carol and I never would’ve met. So, our donation to the Band is done as a token of our gratitude and thanks to a section that can often get overlooked with everything else in the band program. Thank you to the Coquettes for all you do!
What would you tell a prospective band member who is considering joining?
My best advice to a prospective band member absolutely would be to join The Carolina Band! One thing about large universities like South Carolina is that it can be easy to get lost on campus. You’re essentially one person among 30,000 and that can become a bit overwhelming. By joining the Carolina Band, a 30,000 person campus now shrinks to 300 and you are more than just a number. The people you meet and relationships you build will last a lifetime and the memories you’ll make are truly priceless. Yes, it will take a bit of hard work – often in difficult weather conditions (100-degree temps, rain, wind, etc.). But, it is precisely because you meet these situations head on with a team of other people that helps make Band an amazing experience.
When he is not announcing for the Carolina Band, he serves UofSC as a Professor in the Department of Political Science. Professor Randazzo’s research and teaching interests span the fields of American Politics, Comparative Politics, and Methodology – with a particular focus on law and judicial politics. His work focuses on legal constraints to judicial decision making, strategic behavior among judges, and aspects of judicial independence within fledgling democracies.
Randazzo earned his Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2003. Prior to his current appointment at South Carolina, he was a faculty member at the University of Kentucky.
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Topics: Carolina Band, Policial Science, Coquettes