From Atlantic Coast Conference, ACC Sports Media Assn.
Woody Durham, the iconic voice of University of North Carolina athletics for four decades, passed away early Wednesday morning at the age of 76. He was a longtime FWAA member.
Durham retired in 2011 after 40 years as the “Voice of the Tar Heels” football and basketball play-by-play. He was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a neurocognitive disorder, in January 2016. T-shirts bearing one of Durham’s favorite phrases – “Go where you go and do what you do” – are currently being sold to raise money for aphasia research.
“Woody was synonymous with Carolina Athletics for decades, and his voice was gospel to generations of Tar Heels who trusted his every word, ” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “I was struck by how diligently Woody prepared for his broadcast of games. When game time arrived, he made it look and sound so easy because he had a voice that resonated just so, but much of it was because he worked incredibly hard at it. As they say ‘the great ones make it look easy’. Woody was one of the great ones. He was just as good a person as he was a broadcaster.
“My thoughts and prayers, as well as those of the entire Atlantic Coast Conference, go out to Jean, Wes, Taylor and the entire Durham family.”
Durham was born in Mebane, North Carolina, and raised in Albemarle, where he began his broadcasting career as a 16-year-old high school student at radio station WZKY. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1963 and started his post-college career at WBTW-TV in Florence, South Carolina, before moving to WFMY-TV in Greensboro, where he became the sports director.
In addition to his anchoring duties at WFMY, Durham served as the radio analyst for Wake Forest football and play-by-play announcer for Guilford College, as well as a play-by-play announcer on the TV station’s ACC package.
While still working for WFMY in 1971, Durham was hired to replace Bill Currie as the voice of UNC athletics. He called more than 1,500 Tar Heels contests, hosted coaches’ shows, and emceed or spoke at countless banquets.
Among Durham’s UNC career highlights were four NCAA men’s basketball championships and 23 football bowl games. He retired as a 13-time North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year and received the 2002 Marvin “Skeeter” Francis Award for his contributions to coverage of the ACC. This June, he will be inducted into the National Sports Media Association’s Hall of Fame.
Durham is survived by his wife, Jean, of Chapel Hill. They have two sons, both of whom followed their father’s career path. Wes is the radio voice of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, as well as a television play-by-play announcer for ACC football and basketball broadcasts. Taylor is a radio play-by-play announcer with the Elon IMG Sports Network, for which he also serves as an account executive. Wes Durham is a current FWAA member.