Woody Durham, the radio play-by-play voice of Carolina football and basketball, will retire after 40 seasons calling Tar Heels games. UNC has said the official announcement will come at a press conference Wednesday at 10:00 AM.
Anyone Carolina fan who has grown up within the radio reach of the Tar Heel Sports Network has the voice of Woody Durham ingrained in their sports psyche. Woody's admonition for Tar Heel fans "to go where you go and do what you do" is representative of his appreciation for the fans, traditions, and superstitions associated with UNC.
Durham has been part of some of the most famous calls in Carolina history, including Walter Davis' game-tying shot to complete the 8-points-in-17-seconds comeback against Duke in 1974, and the "thrown away to Worthy!" call in the waning moments of the 1982 national title game.
Durham grew up in Albemarle (and was a high school classmate of Duke play-by-play man Bob Harris) and graduated from UNC in 1963. His sons followed him into the broadcasting business, most notably his oldest son Wes, who is the play-by-play voice of both the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Atlanta Falcons.
Durham has always been immensely popular among Tar Heel fans, and by all accounts is a fine person and representative of the University. When I was a student at UNC, at the beginning of the 4th quarter of football games, the students would yell "Woo-dy, Woo-dy" until he waved from the press box.
Durham's retirement coincides with the retirement of another iconic Carolina voice, Kearney Andrews, who was the public address announcer for UNC football and basketball for almost 40 years. Andrews gave up football a number of years ago but continued to the voice in the Smith Center until last month.
Speculation for Durham's successor will probably focus on two primary targets: his son Wes, and Woody's former color analyst Mick Mixon, who was by Woody's side for 16 years and has been the play-by-play announcer for the Carolina Panthers for the past six seasons. With an NFL lockout looming, Mixon may be looking for work.
Meanwhile, congratulations, Woody. It's time for you and your wife Jean to go where you want to go and do what you want to do.
UPDATE(THF): WCHL has a YouTube video which is audio of some of the more famous Woody Durham calls.
For so many of us, Woody Durham on the radio is all we have ever known during UNC games save the times when there was a conflict between football and basketball. Interesting enough I was in the car during the final minute of the Elite Eight game versus Kentucky. Little did I know then, it would be the last time I would hear Woody call a UNC game.