Woody Durham, long-time voice of UNC sports, dies

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.

 

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Call for ‘Super 11’ nominees for media operations excellence

It’s that time of year when the Football Writers Association of America considers the top Sports Information Departments in FBS for the previous football season. One of the FWAA’s charges in its charter is to help oversee performances of college football press boxes and media operations across the country.

In 2009, the FWAA introduced its Super 11 Awards, designed to identify and reward the Sports Information Departments and programs that exemplified excellent media relations.

If you have a nominee, please email it to the chairman of this committee, Tim Griffin. His email is tim.griffin@coxinc.com

The criteria …

The following ten areas were set forth as the criteria/standards for selection for the awards:

  • Players (eligible and playing in varsity games) who are requested should be available to media during Mondays and Tuesdays of game week (minimum).
  • Defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator should be available to media once a week during the season (minimum) and once a month during the off-season (minimum).
  • Freshmen who play should be available to media.
  • If former players and/or boosters are allowed into scrimmages or practices, the media should not be excluded from those same scrimmages or practices.
  • Coaches should be available to media on their campuses at least once a week during the season for no less than 30 minutes. They also should be made available after practice each day for updates on the team. Weekly telephonic press conferences do not count toward these times.
  • A “no cheering in the press box” statement should be made in the press box before the beginning of each half of play. In addition, SID’s should make every attempt to keep the press box quiet and escort disruptive individuals to the exits.
  • Requests for quotes from key players injured in a game should be granted by the home SID and his staff.
  • FWAA member(s) should help the SID with requests for players to be interviewed after a game. Any player who has played (and is not injured) and is not made available for interviews will be so noted by FWAA observers. The FWAA recommends open locker rooms after games, but short of this, any player who plays in a game and is not injured, upon request, should be made available to the media.
  • An FWAA pool reporter or a reputable news person should be designated by the home SID before every game in case there is an officiating controversy during the game.
  • Boosters should not be present at post-game news conferences involving the media, coaches and players. Interruptions or noise will be duly noted by the FWAA observer. Press boxes where non-media are disruptive will also be noted.

 

President’s column: As media industry changes, let us know how the FWAA can help 1

2018 FWAA President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times

I’m incredibly honored to be called upon to lead the FWAA into its 77th year.

I fell in love with the game of football while watching the NFL on television half a world away. But it wasn’t till I started college at the University of Oregon that I acquired an appreciation for the college version of the sport.

For a native Singaporean who grew up in a country where “football” means soccer, and virtually no one I knew understood the rules of American football, I never imagined that this sport would become such a big part of my life.

As an industry, college football is perhaps the most unique spectator sport of its kind. The gladiatorial nature of the game, combined with the creativity you see at the college level, with its variety of offenses and defenses, and the built-in dramatic quality that comes from the way the season is structured – every game counts – captivates the country like nothing else.

In my career, I’ve covered college football on both coasts, reporting on schools in several different conferences and at newspapers of varying sizes. I believe that background gives me a solid base from which to understand the trials and challenges that covering this sport poses to media members at organizations of different sizes. And I hope you will all use us as a resource to help you do your jobs.

Next year, I’m excited that college football will take its biggest game – the national championship, out to the coast I’ve come to call home – Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area. The FWAA hopes to capitalize on that to make a push out west and garner more members and exposure on that side of the country. We also hope to diversify the membership, improve our website, and make a stronger push on social media. I look forward to helping to lead that charge.

This organization has been an invaluable part of the college football media landscape for decades, and it has a proud history.

But as we know, the media industry has changed drastically over the last 15 years or so. As we continue to navigate our place in the digital age I would also like to hear from you – the membership – on how we, the FWAA board, can better serve your needs.

So please, feel free to reach out to me directly (email: sloh@seattletimes.com). I hope to hear from many of you. Enjoy the offseason (we all know that doesn’t really exist anymore).

 

Photo gallery: Outland Trophy presentation dinner

Photos from the Outland Trophy presentation dinner and related events on Jan. 10, 2018, in Omaha, Neb .

New FWAA president honored as Washington state Sportswriter of the Year

Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times is the FWAA’s president for 2018. Photo by Melissa Macatee.

The Seattle Times’ Stefanie Loh, incoming 2018 FWAA President, was named Sportswriter of the Year in the state of Washington for 2017 by the National Sports Media Association . Loh assumed her duties as FWAA President last week during the FWAA’s Awards Breakfast in Atlanta. She will be honored in June in Winston-Salem, N.C.

National Sports Media Association honors two FWAA members

Dick Weiss

The National Sports Media Association has announced a four-person class that will be inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony in June in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Dick Weiss, the FWAA’s President in 2004 and Bert McGrane winner in 2013, is among the inductees. Another long-time FWAA member, Woody Durham, the former North Carolina football and basketball voice, is also being honored.

 
Weiss has covered college football and basketball for more than 40 years in Philadelphia, at the New York Daily News and now with Blue Star Media. 

Photo gallery: Past Presidents Dinner

Photos from the FWAA’s annual Past Presidents Dinner, hosted by the National Football Foundation, on Jan. 5 in Atlanta.

Photo gallery: Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year reception

Photos from the FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year reception on Jan. 6 in Atlanta.

Photo gallery: FWAA Awards Breakfast

Photos from the FWAA’s annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 8 in Atlanta.