• Jen Huber

The art of a great voice

Updated: Aug 12

Inside the career of Kroger Symphony on the Prairie host Scott Hoke

If you’ve been to an Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra concert at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in the past decade, or if you’ve been out to Kroger Symphony on the Prairie in the last 17 years, then you’ve heard the voice of Scott Hoke. As a 40-year broadcasting veteran, Scott has worked locally for WFYI, the Indiana Pacers, WRTV (ABC), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and has voiced projects for national clients including CBS Sports, NBC Sports, the U.S. Olympic Team, Turner Classic Movies, the NCAA, Honda, Hal Leonard Publishing, and more.

His full-time job is hosting the popular Mecum Collector Car Auctions that airs on NBC Sports Network. “In my 13 years with Mecum, I’ve only missed one show, and that was when my daughter got married,” says Scott with a laugh. As the host, Scott travels all over the country to lend his voice to the auctions and hosts up to 14 shows per year, while constantly honing his car knowledge. “There’s a lot to learn and I try to soak up as much new information as I can!” And yes, he does have a bucket list of cars he wouldn’t mind owning (a 1963–1967 Corvette tops the list).

Being in broadcasting wasn’t always on Scott’s radar, even though he would listen to the DJs on the AM radio stations as a kid and think they had the best job. But his thoughts were changed during his sophomore year at Ben Davis High School when a guidance counselor suggested he try an introduction to radio class. “I’ll never forget the first day I walked into that room,” says Scott. “I saw the turntables and the microphones and the console and was immediately hooked!” Throughout high school, Scott did sportscasting and news reporting for the student radio station, WBDG-FM. When he arrived at Butler University as a freshman in 1982, a professor asked him if he had thought about recording voiceovers for a living, and a second career path began to grow.

It was also during his time as a radio and TV major at Butler that he began his connection with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. In the early 1980s, WTTV Channel 4 aired the television show “Symphony Backstage” hosted by former ISO principal timpanist Tom Akins. Scott’s job at Butler’s WAJC-FM was to take the tape from the TV show and turn it into a 30-minute radio program. This relationship would come into play years later when Tom and Scott crossed paths often while covering the same sporting events. Tom—who was serving as the host for the Symphony on the Prairie concerts—need a substitute to fill in for him and reached out to Scott. Subbing eventually turned into a full-time hosting job Symphony on the Prairie when Tom retired.

A silent summer

“This would have been my 18th year out at Kroger Symphony on the Prairie,” says Scott. “It’s such a part of my life, and it’s more than just a concert with incredible music. It’s about being with family and friends and forgetting the rest of the world for a while. I love the audience participation and it’s such a fantastic event that goes beyond the amazing music. The only part I don’t like is telling the audience to return to their vehicles when bad weather is approaching!”

Scott has remained connected to the ISO in ways other than Kroger Symphony on the Prairie, including narrating the piece From the Earth to the Moon composed by retired ISO principal trombone Jim Beckel and by serving on the Maestro Open golf committee. “If I had not gone into broadcasting, I probably would have pursued a career as a musician in some shape or form,” Scott says. “I try to make good use of my God-given talents as much as I can.”

Scott’s love of music goes back to his childhood when his mom played piano and organ and both parents played violin. “I’ve got a bit of a musical bug,” he adds with a laugh. Scott has played bass since 7th grade, had formal piano training, and played bassoon in junior high and high school. Now he plays in a big band called “Joy Swing Jazz Orchestra” and in his jazz band named “The Storeytellers” after the last name of one of the members. “I’ve been fortunate and blessed to do music in addition to my real job,” he adds.

While Scott is keeping very busy during his summer away from Kroger Symphony on the Prairie, he is missing it greatly. “I’m really eager to hear live music again and I can’t wait for next June to roll around and to be back out at Conner Prairie once again!”

For more information about Scott, visit his website at scotthokevoice.com

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