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North Carolina books for post-election reading and holiday giving

Just in time to bury your head in something other than politics, here is a new group of books to help you forget any disappointing election results.

There are new authors you should know about even if you are not ready to read their work, and there might be a good holiday gift for a hard-to-please friend in the list I am sharing with you today.

Wilmington’s John Jeremiah Sullivan may be better known nationally than he is in his adopted home state. His reputation as an insightful and incisive essayist remind some critics of Tom Wolfe in his early days or of the biting writing of North Carolina’s Hal Crowther. A few weeks ago The New York Times Magazine published Sullivan’s long article on Venus and Serena Williams and their complicated family. The November 4 Times Book Review included his review of “The Way the World Works,” by Nicholson Baker. Sullivan is hot literary property. His latest book, “Pulphead: Essays,” a collection of some of his best work, garnered worshipful reviews in literary circles. He will be the guest on North Carolina Bookwatch on Friday at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. (Nov. 9, 11)

Can a psychotherapist take the insights she learns from her profession and use them as a novelist to create fictional characters whose real strengths and weaknesses come together to make them compelling? Raleigh author Diane Chamberlain has done it over and over since 1986 with a series of successful novels. Her latest, “The Good Father,” follows a struggling almost homeless father and his four-year-old daughter as they confront hardened criminals while finding help from a surprising group of North Carolinians. (Nov. 16, 18)

In 1968 a train carried the body of the assassinated Robert Kennedy from New York to Washington for burial beside his slain brother. Millions lined the route. At each place the train passed people living their separate lives. Those lives inspired a series of fictional stories with different characters, all compelling. North Carolina native David Rowell brings these stories and characters together in “The Train of Small Mercies.” (Nov. 23, 25)

Two of the best new books are ones you cannot have read yet. Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle will talk about McCorkle’s “Life After Life” and Smith’s “Guests on Earth,” which will be published next year by Algonquin Books. Never before on North Carolina Bookwatch have two authors talked about new books that are not yet on sale. The guests will tell viewers how they can get first copies of the books by providing support for UNC-TV and Bookwatch. (Nov. 30 only)

Madison County, north of Asheville and up along the Tennessee border, has been the location of two novels featured recently on Bookwatch: Ron Rash’s “The Cove” and Wiley Cash’s “A Land More Kind than Home.” Now there is a third fine Madison County novel. Terry Roberts’ “A Short Time to Stay Here” is a story of World War I and more than 2,000 Germans interned in a resort hotel in Hot Springs. It is a story of love, killing and conflict of different cultures that come together in explosive and surprising fashion. (Dec. 7 only)

His distinctive voice might be recognized by more North Carolinians than any other public figure. When you hear that familiar “voice of the Tar Heels” you know it is Woody Durham, who for 40 years described UNC-Chapel Hill football and basketball and  now shares his personal story and what he learned about North Carolina from his intimate connections and friendships. It is all part of his memoir, “Woody Durham: A Tar Heel Voice.” (Dec. 14, 16)
http://chapelboro.com/columns/one-on-one/north-carolina-books-for-post-election-reading-and-holiday-giving/

A Banner Year?

If the fortunes of North Carolina’s two largest football programs over the last week forecast the outcome on Election Day, the “blues” are trending upward and the “reds” are in a free fall.

In other words, the North Carolina Tar Heels are feeling great about themselves while the N.C. State Wolfpack is in a panic that even the best spin doctors cannot cure. While UNC enjoyed a much-needed weekend off, State followed its fourth-quarter collapse in Chapel Hill with a one-sided Homecoming horror show against last-place Virginia that could be the beginning of the end for Coach Tom O’Brien.


Even before the State-Carolina kick-off on October 27, an undercurrent among the media was that new Wolfpack Athletic Director Debbie Yow is not TOB’s biggest supporter. And, supposedly, she gave her incumbent coach a preseason ultimatum that he had to beat the Tar Heels for the sixth straight year and win the Atlantic Division of the ACC.

Neither happened, and then State showed up against Virginia with a major hangover, trailing 26-0 on the way to a 33-6 loss to a 2-6 team coming into the game. Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh News & Observer wrote afterward that O’Brien may be in hot water but should survive because he has three years left on his contract and has a spotless record with the NCAA.

That won’t hold much political capital with the tough-minded Yow, who before coming to State fired Ralph Friedgen at Maryland with millions left on his contract. And having a clean slate with the NCAA is what coaches are supposed to do, as O’Brien led the laugh track over UNC’s troubles for two years.

His infamous “triple play” comment last season about Carolina’s NCAA woes – impermissible benefits, an agent on staff and academic fraud – made him the unofficial mayor of Raleigh, if not the Governor in a Republican state, but his support has since abated big time.

It all began to change in the fourth quarter last week and then turned over, in the blink of an eye, with Gio Bernard’s dramatic game-winning punt return. State had rallied to take a 10-point lead and likely would have won had it kept attacking the Tar Heels’ vulnerable secondary.  But, after Carolina forged a 35-35 tie, O’Brien and his staff were guilty of horrible clock management and ultra-conservative play-calling down the stretch, opening the door for much more than a win on the football field.

“It felt cathartic,” said Jones Angell, the second-year Voice of the Tar Heels whose call of Bernard’s 74-yard gem has already become Carolina lore. He said it was a combination of describing a return that was setting up perfectly from his vantage point and then letting his emotions follow Gio down the State sideline.

“You could see the blocking wall forming on the right side of the field,” Angell said, “and all Gio had to do was get around the corner for what would have been, at least, a long return to get Carolina pretty close to field goal range.”

But when Tre Boston blocked one State defender into another, essentially wiping out two men, and T.J. Jiles threw another big block, the only man left for Bernard to beat was punter Will Baumann, who had foolishly kicked it right to him.

“No he’s not! Yes he is!” Angell shrieked as Gio high-stepped over Baumann and outran State’s Brandan Bishop into the end zone “FOR A TOUCHDOWN!”

Then Angell ripped off the words that will live as long as any his predecessor Woody Durham bellowed during his 40 years behind the mike.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!”

Angell said the spectacular finish tapped into his place as a lifelong Carolina fan, just as an insane Kenan Stadium rocked with people yelling their own words of joy and amazement. But he also said the play was like taking the biggest sigh of relief one could imagine.

“It did seem like a cathartic moment,” Angell said. “First, we hadn’t beaten State for five years and, second, so much had happened to our football program over the last two and half years. It just felt like when Gio turned the corner, Carolina football finally turned the corner with him.”

The 43-35 victory for Coach Larry Fedora was something neither Butch Davis nor Everett Withers could accomplish. It also kept Fedora from going 0-3 against Tobacco Road rivals in his first year. With no post-season play, a loss last weekend might have sucked much of the motivation from the last three games.

As it is, the Tar Heels will be favored to win out over Georgia Tech, Virginia and Maryland and finish 9-3, which would be the most regular-season victories since the Mack Brown era ended 15 years ago. And it just might leave Carolina alone in first place (6-2) of the Coastal Division of the ACC, although UNC has been instructed that it cannot officially claim such a championship.

A post-season ban is one thing, but not being able to call yourselves division champs is ridiculous and is without precedent. Two N.C. State basketball teams that were on probation and banned from the NCAA Tournament won the ACC Championship and have banners hanging to prove it.

There are still three weeks to go, but if the Tar Heels turn this state blue in that way, UNC ought to hang the biggest banner possible and declare them the 2012 Unofficial ACC Coastal Division Champions!

They would have won it on the field, if not in the political process.

 

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/a-banner-year/

Trending Blue

If the fortunes of North Carolina’s two largest football programs over the last week forecast the outcome on Election Day, the “blues” are trending upward and the “reds” are in a free fall.

In other words, the North Carolina Tar Heels are feeling great about themselves while the N.C. State Wolfpack is in a panic that even the best spin doctors cannot cure. While UNC enjoyed a much-needed weekend off, State followed its fourth-quarter collapse in Chapel Hill with a one-sided Homecoming horror show against last-place Virginia that could be the beginning of the end for Coach Tom O’Brien.


Even before the State-Carolina kick-off on October 27, an undercurrent among the media was that new Wolfpack Athletic Director Debbie Yow is not TOB’s biggest supporter. And, supposedly, she gave her incumbent coach a preseason ultimatum that he had to beat the Tar Heels for the sixth straight year and win the Atlantic Division of the ACC.

Neither happened, and then State showed up against Virginia with a major hangover, trailing 26-0 on the way to a 33-6 loss to a 2-6 team coming into the game. Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh News & Observer wrote afterward that O’Brien may be in hot water but should survive because he has three years left on his contract and has a spotless record with the NCAA.

That won’t hold much political capital with the tough-minded Yow, who before coming to State fired Ralph Friedgen at Maryland with millions left on his contract. And having a clean slate with the NCAA is what coaches are supposed to do, as O’Brien led the laugh track over UNC’s troubles for two years.

His infamous “triple play” comment last season about Carolina’s NCAA woes – impermissible benefits, an agent on staff and academic fraud – made him the unofficial mayor of Raleigh, if not the Governor in a Republican state, but his support has since abated big time.

It all began to change in the fourth quarter last week and then turned over, in the blink of an eye, with Gio Bernard’s dramatic game-winning punt return. State had rallied to take a 10-point lead and likely would have won had it kept attacking the Tar Heels’ vulnerable secondary.  But, after Carolina forged a 35-35 tie, O’Brien and his staff were guilty of horrible clock management and ultra-conservative play-calling down the stretch, opening the door for much more than a win on the football field.

“It felt cathartic,” said Jones Angell, the second-year Voice of the Tar Heels whose call of Bernard’s 74-yard gem has already become Carolina lore. He said it was a combination of describing a return that was setting up perfectly from his vantage point and then letting his emotions follow Gio down the State sideline.

“You could see the blocking wall forming on the right side of the field,” Angell said, “and all Gio had to do was get around the corner for what would have been, at least, a long return to get Carolina pretty close to field goal range.”

But when Tre Boston blocked one State defender into another, essentially wiping out two men, and T.J. Jiles threw another big block, the only man left for Bernard to beat was punter Will Baumann, who had foolishly kicked it right to him.

“No he’s not! Yes he is!” Angell shrieked as Gio high-stepped over Baumann and outran State’s Brandan Bishop into the end zone “FOR A TOUCHDOWN!”

Then Angell ripped off the words that will live as long as any his predecessor Woody Durham bellowed during his 40 years behind the mike.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!”

Angell said the spectacular finish tapped into his place as a lifelong Carolina fan, just as an insane Kenan Stadium rocked with people yelling their own words of joy and amazement. But he also said the play was like taking the biggest sigh of relief one could imagine.

“It did seem like a cathartic moment,” Angell said. “First, we hadn’t beaten State for five years and, second, so much had happened to our football program over the last two and half years. It just felt like when Gio turned the corner, Carolina football finally turned the corner with him.”

The 43-35 victory for Coach Larry Fedora was something neither Butch Davis nor Everett Withers could accomplish. It also kept Fedora from going 0-3 against Tobacco Road rivals in his first year. With no post-season play, a loss last weekend might have sucked much of the motivation from the last three games.

As it is, the Tar Heels will be favored to win out over Georgia Tech, Virginia and Maryland and finish 9-3, which would be the most regular-season victories since the Mack Brown era ended 15 years ago. And it just might leave Carolina alone in first place (6-2) of the Coastal Division of the ACC, although UNC has been instructed that it cannot officially claim such a championship.

A post-season ban is one thing, but not being able to call yourselves division champs is ridiculous and is without precedent. Two N.C. State basketball teams that were on probation and banned from the NCAA Tournament won the ACC Championship and have banners hanging to prove it.

There are still three weeks to go, but if the Tar Heels turn this state blue in that way, UNC ought to hang the biggest banner possible and declare them the 2012 Unofficial ACC Coastal Division Champions!

They would have won it on the field, if not in the political process.

http://chapelboro.com/arts-angle/trending-blue/

The Site That Knew The Score

UNC Athletics is re-launching its official website under the url of GoHeels.com, which is hardly a new name to Tar Heel Internet junkies. In the early days of the web, about 15 years ago, GoHeels was the website of choice for Carolina fans because it was the first out of the gate with news and edgy commentary about everything light blue.
 
GoHeels.com, the Site that Knows the Score – that was the slogan we used.
 
I say “we” because GoHeels was birthed by VilCom, which at the time also owned Tar Heel Sports Marketing and the Tar Heel Sports Network. Invented by a brilliant young Carolina grad named Chris Boulton, GoHeels caught on with its currently updated news and its band of columnists writing, basically, what all the fans were talking about around water coolers and on the streets.
 
In 1999, VilCom President Jim Heavner sold the Tar Heel Sports Marketing multi-media rights contract to Learfield Communications. Smartly, he held GoHeels out of the sale because it already had millions of page views and thousands of dollars in advertising from having been promoted non-stop on the UNC statewide radio broadcasts. . . . the Site that Knows the Score.
 
Many readers still regarded it as the official UNC website, because Woody Durham, Mick Mixon and Lee Pace, along with yours truly, continued writing for it. But as an independent site, GoHeels could cover recruiting and publish an occasional piece that would never have made it past the proof readers in the Sports Information Office.
 
For example, GoHeels criticized Dick Baddour’s hiring of career assistant Carl Torbush to succeed Mack Brown in 1997. The football Tar Heels were ranked No. 4 when Brown left for Texas. After three years under Torbush, they were ranked something like one-hundred and four.
 
GoHeels was all over the regrettable firing, rehiring and firing of Torbush, when Chancellor Michael Hooker had taken ill with fatal lymphoma and Baddour was left waiting at the alter by Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer. Then came John Bunting, who loved his alma mater but had no Division I coaching experience. More debatable fodder for fans who hung on every word GoHeels had to say about it.
 
The ambiguity over how long Bill Guthridge would remain head basketball coach gave those rivals who had been whipped regularly by Dean Smith’s teams a chance to say the future of UNC basketball was in doubt. Which it was after Guthridge retired following two trips to the Final Four in three seasons.
 
The Carolina cupboard was getting bare in 2000, and Roy Williams decided to stay at Kansas. GoHeels really gave it to ol’ Roy for disappointing everyone the first time.
 
Then, of course, came the Matt Doherty debacle, during which Learfield and UNC finally purchased GoHeels from VilCom and transferred all the news that they thought was fit to print to the official athletic site, which became known as TarHeelBlue.com. Carolina kept ownership of the old url and is now bringing it back because, as Associate Athletic Director Steve Kirschner says, and rightfully so, it’s the phrase that all fans use when cheering on our teams. GO HEELS!
 
Some UNC employees retained a bad taste for GoHeels, which was merely “telling it like it was” during the most turbulent period in Carolina athletic history – before the Butch Davis controversy 10 years later. Many of the fans we heard from missed the “balanced” coverage that GoHeels provided – mostly positive but sometimes reporting and commenting on not such good news. Since then, several other “unofficial” sites have grown popular, picking up where GoHeels left off.
 
Although the old name returns, don’t expect the old content to come with it. The digital age has turned websites into as much audio and video portals as e-newspapers. And the columnists covering UNC are still paid to write it through Carolina blue eyes, as it should be with an official school website.
 
But it didn’t have to be that way with the old GoHeels – and it wasn’t. And we think most Carolina fans have missed it since going dark in 2002.
 
In fact, the journalists at GoHeels took pride in the disclaimer that the university insisted it carry: Never Has Been, Never Will Be, the Official Site of UNC.
 
Except now it is. Funny how things turn out.
 

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/the-site-that-knew-the-score/

Thorp and Bubba

On a long weekend that brought together the past, present and future of Carolina Athletics, one could surmise that it was the shining moment for UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp.
Under incredible scrutiny and pressure since he was thrust into the middle of a football scandal he never imagined when he accepted the university’s top job three years ago, Thorp listened to all the discerning and diametrically opposed voices and completed his intercollegiate crash course.
He made an “A” with the hiring of Lawrence “Bubba” Cunningham as Carolina’s seventh and new director of athletics.
Thorp was a self-effacing and light-hearted comedian at the Thursday night tribute to retired Voice of the Tar Heels Woody Durham. He was a confident and measured leader at Cunningham’s introductory press conference 18 hours later. And he planned to be just another Carolina fan at Late Night with Roy that evening and the football game against Miami the following afternoon.
It is no secret that Thorp has been the target of harsh criticism occasionally bordering on veiled threats since he fired Butch Davis on July 26. Whether it would have been better to dismiss Davis in August of 2010 when the scandal erupted and crossed into academics or after the 2010 season when it became clear that a fresh start was in order, Thorp eventually made the move.
His courage had a price. It put him in the cross hairs of a fan fight that still burns, witnessed by button-wearing boo-birds in the stands at Kenan Stadium and former Trustees and wealthy alumni who continued inviting the deposed head coach to games in their suites of the Blue Zone that was forced upon the university and has left it with a massive debt.
Long-time insiders urged Thorp on the new athletic director to “keep it in the family” for selfish reasons, a practice promoted by the best coach Carolina, and perhaps college basketball, ever had. Dean Smith used his influence to put Dick Baddour in the job more than 14 years ago because he was worried about the succession plan for his program, a legitimate concern at the time. But that became part of the Carolina Way, and a reason that few new faces joined the UNC athletic department staff in the last decade and a half.
Thorp started the search looking like he might maintain that status quo. But he began engaging prominent people in college athletics, some UNC alumni and some not, and he soon became undeterred in his goal to find the “best person in the country for Carolina.” That opened the field to the more than 60 outside applicants, which were eventually whittled down to three or four who had the experience and gravitas to build on the university’s success with an ingestion of new blood and fresh ideas that have worked elsewhere.
Learning on the job became a non-starter. If the best man was a Carolina man, so be it. But he had to have a helluva resume, far more than just an impassioned spiel to the search committee. No mattter who you favored or how you felt about Davis, the priority for everyone who cares about Carolina needed to be moving ahead.
Cunningham soon emerged as the leading candidate and the best fit. Although his only connection with UNC was taking classes at the Sports Management Institute held in Chapel Hill 20 years ago, Bubba bookmarked Carolina as a special place and one of his dream jobs. He was an assistant AD at Notre Dame at the time, and a mentor was former Fighting Irish Athletic Director Gene Corrigan, the retired Commissioner of the ACC and one of the people strongly recommending Cunningham to Thorp.
That Cunningham has followed the Tar Heels closely through the years but knows very few of the athletic staff he inherits will help him make objective evaluations over the next six months, beginning with the football program over the next six weeks.
This will be his third football coaching search. The first was at Ball State, where he hired Brady Hoke and watched Hoke rebuild a decade-long losing program into a 12-0 team during the 2008 regular season, three years after Bubba moved on to Tulsa. Hoke went to San Diego State and eventually to Michigan, where his first Wolverines team is currently 6-1 and 11th-ranked in the nation.
Cunningham’s next search landed Todd Graham, who led Tulsa to 10-, 11- and 10-win seasons in four years before being hired away by Pitt. Now comes his biggest challenge, finding a permanent coach who will not see Carolina as a stepping stone and stay long enough to help the Tar Heels fulfill the potential that for the most part has eluded them in football.
Asked how he will factor the final record of Butch Davis’ last team, now being coached by Everett Withers, into what is best for UNC over the next 5-15 years, Bubba let the rubber meet the road. “Outstanding programs over time are led by great coaches,” he said, “so the idea is trying to identify a great coach who is the right fit for Carolina. It’s the most effective way to have long-term success.”
And finding the best fit to run a 28-sport athletic department and balance what Cunningham calls “enhancing the student-athlete experience” against managing a $65 million enterprise – and doing it in such a way to make all Tar Heels proud – was ultimately due to the courage of one man.
Holden Thorp.  
 
http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/thorp-and-bubba/

What do Candlelight, Dessert, and Woody Durham Have in Common?

Well, on September 23rd, the Triangle Radio Reading Service is honoring Woody Durham, “The Voice of the Tarheels,” at its “Dining by Candlelight: Dessert in the Dark” fundraiser.
The Triangle Radio Reading Service (TRRS) provides live news and information to people who are visually and print impaired and live in a 20 county area of North Carolina. Currently TRRS produces and airs local programming from 7:30 AM until midnight daily and is on the air 24/7.

With the assistance of 150 volunteer readers and technicians, broadcast of newspapers, magazines, books, and original programs are prepared daily, and made available to approximately 20,000 listeners in five different ways: (1) as an internet stream through www.trianglereadingservice.org; (2) via podcast downloads from the TRRS website; (3) via on-demand stream from the TRRS website; (4) on RTN Channel 22 in Raleigh and Channel 11 in Cary, Garner and Apex; and (5) over specially tuned SCA radio receivers provided by TRRS to listeners for use in their homes, in retirement facilities, hospitals, and assisted living centers. The radio signal is donated by North Carolina’s Public Radio, WUNC-FM.

These broadcasts connect people who are blind and print impaired to each other, their community, and family by delivering news, information, and entertainment using the latest audio technology.

Take a minute a visit their website — www.trianglereadingservice.org – and listen to some of the podcasts, including USA Today, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, and Our State, to name just a few. You will be impressed by the professional quality of the recordings. While you are on the site, you can learn about how to volunteer for TRRS. And don’t forget to get your tickets to the “Dining by Candlelight: Dessert in the Dark” event ….. your favorite dessert might be just around the corner!

http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-non-profit-corner/what-do-candlelight-dessert-and-woody-durham-have-in-common/

You Can Call Him Jones

A few things you may not know about the new radio Voice of the Tar Heels:

His proper name is Monrovie Jones Angell, IV. That’s on par with Forest Orion Mixon, III, which is Mick’s official moniker, and a lot more eccentric than just Woody Lombardi Durham (the First).

His dad is Monrovie, the Third, but goes by “Rovie” and is a retired Marine Corps officer who now works for the Marine Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville, N.C. Jones never knew his grandfather, Monrovie, Jr., who died when Jones’ father was a teenager. The original Monrovie? Jones hasn’t a clue and needs someone to build him a family tree.

Jones’ mother is Elizabeth Makepeace Angell, who is a retired public a school teacher. Jones’ wife is Elizabeth Martin Angell, who was a public school teacher and is now a literacy specialist at Glenwood Elementary in Chapel Hill. Jones’ mother did not hand down any “EMA” embroidered towels to her new daughter-in-law.

Young Elizabeth is actually three years older than Jones, lived five blocks away in Jacksonville and attended the same high school, but she wouldn’t give the pimply-faced freshman a second look when she was a pretty senior, Class of 1994.

They both went on to UNC – as had Jones’ parents and his sister Molly – but never hung out together there, either, perhaps because Elizabeth was always studying. Jones says the rumor that he made 1600 on his SATs is untrue and his wife is the brains of the family, having made “one grade under an A all the way through school, and she’s still mad about that B-plus.”

They met formally back in Jacksonville, when Jones was a sophomore at Carolina and Elizabeth had already graduated to a teaching job in Raleigh. It was a holiday Cotillion party when they both had dates with other people, but got seated together at dinner.

“Can I call you when we get back?” Jones asked. “Sure,” Elizabeth said, acknowledging that he was finally old enough to be noticed.

They were married (in Jacksonville, of course) in 2003, and Caroline Angell was born in 2008. Elizabeth is now pretty pregnant with child No. 2.

Monrovie IV grew up loving all kinds of sports (especially the Tar Heels and Redskins) but was never good enough to make any of the Jacksonville teams. So he turned to musical theater, beginning as the Artful Dodger in Oliver in the 5th grade and later acting, singing and dancing (in his admitted order of competence) in big spring high school productions such as Mame, 42nd Street and My Favorite Year.

“I was a better actor than a singer,” he said, “and it helped prepare me to be in front of a crowd.” Beginning this fall, he’ll play to the biggest audience in North Carolina.

Jones’ first play-by-play job was during his student internship with the Tar Heel Sports Network, when engineer John Rose asked him to go to Henderson and call “a minor league baseball game” over WIZS-AM, the station owned by the Rose family.

Jones jumped at the chance but when he arrived found it was more “minors playing baseball.” He did that Little League game with the same enthusiasm he has called the College World Series five times in the last six years. By the way, John Rose is now the engineer for the Duke Radio Network, but that has nothing to do with the surprise he pulled on the young intern.

Jones Angell has since called hundreds of Carolina baseball games, dozens of UNC women’s basketball games and few men’s games when Woody was taking a break or off with the football team. The September 3 opener against James Madison in Kenan Stadium will be the first football game he has ever called from the play-by-play chair. No other candidate in the national search lacked such experience.

“That was definitely a big point of discussion during the interview process, and it’s understandable and a valid question,” said the third banana in the UNC broadcast booth for the past six years. “But I really have prepared as if I was going to do the play by play, so with preparation it won’t be a huge change.”

Jones says he will sit in the radio booth and call every scrimmage during preseason practice and then listen and critique the tapes. Certainly, he won’t sound like Woody, but even Woody had an adjustment period taking over from Bill Currie 40 years ago.

The familiarity with Carolina, which Jones has followed closely his entire life, and keeping the same broadcast teams together for both sports trumped the fact that he will have to grow into certain parts of his new role. He is already an employee of the UNC Athletic Department and will remain as involved in the production of the broadcasts and coaches’ shows as he has been for years. Like Woody, he’ll be paid additionally by Learfield Communications to call the games.

Will he have pet expressions that become legendary, such as “Go where you go and do what you do” or “Go to war Miss Agnes” – two of his predecessor’s favorites.

“The way I am approaching it is let’s get it right, be factual and accurate, and tell the story of the student athletes,” he said. “As time goes on and people get to know me and are more comfortable listening to my style, the other stuff will come. Right now I don’t have anything ready to pull out if, say, Harrison Barnes makes a big 3-pointer.”

What he does have, right out of the shoot, is a one-word name that will become a staple for Carolina fans, like Woody. That’s because it’s a middle name that sounds like a last name that he uses as his first name. “Back to you, Monrovie . . .” just won’t cut it.

Best of luck, Jones. We’ll be listening.

Jones, Elizabeth and Caroline Angell with “Lily”
http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/you-can-call-him-jones/

The Tar Heels’ New “Voice”

How important is the radio broadcasting job at UNC – or any major college or pro sports team – these days?

Certainly, every school and pro franchise needs a radio network so their fans can listen to the few games that aren’t on TV or if they can’t watch those that are on the tube. But the days of your favorite team’s broadcaster being your umbilical cord to the action are long gone because there are now so many options for staying connected. In these digital days, you can follow “live” play-by-play on your computer or mobile device, and those with enough “G’s” can watch the games on their 4-inch phone screens!

When Woody Durham used to utter one of his pet predilections to Tar Heel fans during a close game – “Go where you go and do what you do” – my ex-mother in law would lock herself in the bathroom and yell through the door, “What’s happening?” Nowadays, people still leave the TV room during a tight finish and some old-timers rely on the radio because Woody’s words were more comforting than watching. And, of course, there is Dick Vitale, who has kept radio alive all by himself.

But the advent of color and, now, high definition TV has cut steadily into radio audiences over the last 10 years, especially with broadcast deregulation that has allowed unlimited games to be televised by the national networks and regional carriers. Football and basketball freaks can literally watch weekend games from 11 a.m. to midnight on CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN 1, 2 & U, Fox and a variety of other cable channels most of us have never heard of (TruTV?).

A UNC athletic official, whose primary job is to sell out Kenan Stadium and the Smith Center, said last summer that HDTV has become the biggest challenge to declining ticket revenues. With the cost of tickets going up and the time and expense to take your brood to a live sporting event, sitting in your cushy living room in front of a 50-inch flat screen with all kinds of playback and slow-mo gizmos seems like a responsible alternative to some families.

People who couldn’t go to games have been watching on TV for years, and many UNC fans got used to “turning down the sound” and listening to Woody anyway. Then, when TV transmission changed from moving across telephone lines to bouncing off satellites in the sky, a disconcerting delay between most TV and radio broadcasts ended a lot of turn-down-the-sound parties. (Not with WCHL, though, because engineer Anthony Wellman expertly syncs up the broadcasts!)

So what’s left are college and pro radio networks with actual audiences that are hard to measure. The NFL is a completely TV-driven league with every game televised. Virtually all Carolina basketball games have been on TV since Roy Williams returned as head coach in 2003, and Carolina’s first three 2011 football games are on the tube. The rest of the TV schedule will be released in the fall.

As a result, the pre-game and post-game shows, when fans can listen in for the coaches’ comments, have become even more popular, because by kick-off or tip-off the live TV coverage has begun.

So replacing a legend like Woody Durham, frankly, is not the big deal it once was. When Durham succeeded Bill “Mouth of the South” Currie in 1971 (after an interim year by Currie’s old sidekick and current Indianapolis Colts broadcaster Bob Lamey), “Ol’ Woody” was a young 29. And for a few years, people longed for Currie and his occasional potty-mouth behind the mike. Of course, Woody grew into the job and held it for 40 seasons until his recent retirement.

Durham’s son, Wes, was once considered a frontrunner to succeed his old man. But the younger Durham has become a big brand in Atlanta, where he is the Voice of Georgia Tech, the NFL Falcons and has his own radio and TV shows. He probably makes too much money to take the UNC job in more provincial Chapel Hill and he definitely does not fit the new profile Carolina wants.

UNC prefers the stars to be the players and coaches, not the radio broadcaster. That’s why young, talented and unassuming Jones Angell, third banana in the booth the last few years, has a great chance of getting the job. Angell is here, he’s cheaper and he does so much more behind the scenes than old-time broadcasters who often just showed up, put on the head set and start talking.

Woody Durham was the exception with his preparation and his ubiquitous presence at virtually every Carolina event of note. He wanted to do the high-profile on-court and on-field presentations, served as a Rams Club spokesman and MC as part of his job and generally became as synonymous with the Tar Heels as the Tar Heels themselves.

TV has made such a “legendary” presence less important. They may still call the new guy with the gig Voice of the Tar Heels, but what most fans need now more than ever is a really good radio announcer who describes the games accurately when they can’t watch them in person or on TV.


Woody Durham with the Late Jim Valvano and Frank McGuire

Who is your choice as new Voice of the Tar Heels?

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/the-tar-heels-new-voice/