Bryant, WIN’s Journalist of the Year, informs and entertains wrestling fans

Updated: May 17, 2022

Photo: Jason Bryant (left) and his partner Bryan Hazard have handled public address for many big events, including every NCAA tourney since 2016. (Tony Rotundo photo)

Note: This story was first published in WIN Magazine’s Annual Awards Issue, which was printed on May 6. Other award stories in this issue included features on the Malvern Prep’s Nick Feldman (Junior Hodge Trophy winner), NWCA’s Mike Moyer (Mike Chapman Impact Award), Michigan’s Sean Bormet (Dan Gable Coach of the Year), Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson (Schalles Award), Ryder Rogodzke of Stillwater, Minn. (Junior Schalles) and WIN’s State-by-State High School Wrestlers of the Year. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe to WIN Magazine.

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By Mike Finn

A lot has happened to Jason Bryant since the first time he received WIN Magazine’s Journalist of the Year in 2007, when he worked for Intermat, a wrestling website.

Personally, he got married in 2010 and eventually he and his wife, Abby, brought two girls into this world in Minneapolis where they live. The girls’ names are Lucy London, now age 9, and Ruby Rio, age 5, reminding one that their births came about the time that Bryant covered the Olympic Games in 2012 in England (while working for USA Wrestling) and in 2016 as the public-address announcer at the 2016 Games in Brazil.

It’s the same voice that countless wrestling fans listen to at the biggest events in the world, including the last six NCAA Division I Championships, starting with the 2016 national tournament in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. 

Historically, he has worked or announced 18 World Team or Olympic Team Trials, has traveled to 43 states and 27 countries, and most recently was on the mic at the 2022 European Championships, one week after the 2022 NCAA Division I Championships. He also did the public address for the NAIA and NCAA Division III Championships. His P.A. duties kept him on the road at tournaments or traveling to those events 25 of the days between March 3 and April 4.

Because of his efforts as a public-address announcer and the work he does on-line covering and promoting wrestling, the Poquoson, Va. native has been named WIN’s 2022 Journalist of the Year.

Bryant, who also runs the website Mat Talk Online and produces numerous podcasts, is more than just a public-address announcer. And the most common theme of Bryant’s work between 2007 and now is probably that he continues to be a strong journalist behind a microphone; adding plenty of information for fans about the wrestlers at these high-profile events. Bryant also produces an annual NCAA fan guide before the NCAA Division I Championships. This year’s fan guide/event preview was 230 pages.

“Jason is a true professional at what he does and we’re excited to announce him as this year’s Journalist of the Year,” said WIN Publisher Bryan Van Kley. “What separates Jason from many journalists and people in general is he combines his love and passion for the sport with hours and hours of preparation to get ready to announce big events. He knows the athletes and the finds tidbits of information that will help fans enjoy the event more and respect the competitors to a greater level.

“His efforts really promote our great sport. A lot of people love wrestling and love talking about it, but they could never do what Jason does so well because they’re not really willing to put in the time to be a knowledgeable voice behind the mic that puts the focus where it should be — and that’s on the wrestlers.”

Bryant, 42, said his passion for wrestling journalism started when he did public address back in high school in Virginia, as well as working for both his local newspaper and in radio.

“I was learning the sport when I was first announcing,” he said. “I’m not a wrestling lifer. I didn’t start wrestling until I was 15. I had to learn the sport like a first-year wrestler when I had to talk about it. (Fans) wanted a wrestler’s record and year in school, but I also learned that they wanted something extra, including like have these wrestlers in a match met before.

“I think about what a fan wants to hear in the stands and I want to answer that question before they ask it. I’ve also learned that when I research something and write it down, it’s easier for me to retain so I can recall it quicker. As I get older, that information is piling up in my brain. I don’t need to know all this information, but it’s where I put it.

“Also, what I lack in my technical knowledge of the sport, I try to make up for with extra information. Here’s the score but there’s something else you didn’t ask for that will educate you.”

Bryant has also worked as a television commentator on wrestling and sees a similarity to that and what he does behind a public-address microphone.

“Many people who tune into a broadcast probably know a lot more than the broadcaster,” he said. “In wrestling, where there is a niche crowd, you are going to have someone watching intently. When I’m in public-address environment, everyone in the building typically knows more than I do about wrestling.”

Bryant also credits Bryan Hazard, his NCAA public-address partner, in keeping him grounded over three days and countless hours over six sessions of the national tournament.

“Bryan provides levity,” Bryant said. “We’ve known each other for 20-some years. When I started Mat Talk back in high school, he was a young coach in Virginia. We get serious, but we are probably also laughing when the microphone is not on. We make fun of each other and make jokes. Those three days at the NCAAs can be a grind. We have to keep each other entertained and the NCAA has really been open to letting us be ourselves. When the wrestling starts, we supplement that action.”

Bryant has received many other awards and was selected to the Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He continues to adjust to the changing times and technologies.

“My role has evolved to where, journalistically, I am educating and serving as a historian. Having a training in broadcasting does help and it’s more conversational in some aspects.”

Bryant also knows that journalism mediums have changed over the years. But, he hopes to continue what he has learned as there are now more ways to communicate with fans as some news moves from print to on-line.

“I feel like anything I do has some journalistic integrity,” he said. “Journalism and content are everywhere. We have a certain fan base. We have to cater to that fan base but understand we need to educate our fans beyond what they’ve always gotten.”