I have a vocational fascination with the WakeyLeaks brouhaha…where a radio football analyst at WFU is accused of sharing football strategy with opponents.
Radio play-by-play has been a constant in my career. My first job: studio tech for Virginia Squires basketball games at a Richmond radio station. And that morphed into broadcast management spanning college, NFL, NHL, NASCAR and Minor League Baseball.
40+ years of play-by-play (and lap-by-lap). Nothing resembling the Wake Forest story has ever occurred. The breach of trust is unprecedented. I'm not being overly dramatic.
The radio broadcast crew is embedded with the team they cover. They are with the players and coaches day in, day out. Unlike TV announcers, who typically fly in for the game, the radio guys are insiders, often traveling with the team. They are privy to confidential information. It informs their perspective. They don't function with the freedom of reporters/journalists. Loyalty and discretion is owed the team they cover. In that department, Wake suffered an epic fail.
Trust is shattered and it sets off a chain reaction as Aaron Schoonmaker opines at wralSPORTSfan.com. Joe Ovies and Lauren Brownlow explore the story on their Footprint podcast.
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PxP: In my opinion, radio play-by-play is an art form. The best announcers, painting pictures with their words, place the listener in the stadium or arena. The color commentator, usually a former athlete, offers unique insight. It's a specialized skill set. And I fear it's taken for granted now that almost every game is on television.
It's been a privilege to work with Bob Harris, retiring after this season as the voice of the Blue Devils. You're crystal clear on Bob's loyalty to Duke University. And the indefatigable Chuck Kaiton, Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Carolina Hurricanes, his cadence can exceed the velocity of a hockey puck. At the Bulls we have Patrick Kinas behind the mic, renowned for his preparation and versatility. Bulls baseball, high school championships, women's hoops - even the Rio Olympics - are on his resume.
Gary Hahn, Tony Haynes and Johnny Evans of the Wolfpack radio network top my list. They had my undivided attention for the NC State-UNC game. Driving to Virginia on the Friday after a Thanksgiving, I began with the broadcast on MIX 101.5, switched to the Triad affiliate, and in the Virginia mountains, I listened to the stream on my phone via gopack.com. On that 200 mile trip from Raleigh to Blacksburg, it seemed like we were in Chapel Hill for the Pack's victory.