First Person: Tar Heel in Atlanta
Woody Durham may have retired as the voice of the Tar Heels, but he has not changed the level of preparation he puts into a presentation. Neither has the legendary broadcaster given into staying at home. Since stepping down, Durham has managed to keep quite busy. He continues to do commercials, he has written and published a book, and he has been promoting that book by traveling across the country. Throughout these endeavors, the retired Durham still finds time to be the keynote speaker at various events. I was fortunate to attend one of these events in Atlanta, Georgia in late October. The Atlanta Carolina Club sponsored by the UNC General Alumni Association held its inaugural scholarship dinner with the sole purpose to help aid more future Tar Heels from Georgia in their quest to attend UNC.
Lucky for all in attendance, Wes Durham, voice of the Yellow Jackets and Falcons, introduced his father. He was quick to praise his father for all his hard work as a broadcaster over the years, but more importantly he learned a valuable lesson of preparedness…a lesson that makes him so successful as a broadcaster of both a major college athletic program along with a professional sports franchise.
Woody was absolutely amazing. It was obvious that he approached this time on a podium like his time on the radio. He was personable yet informative all while being extremely prepared. He was not shy to say he missed his radio work but did not miss the preparation he required of himself for the job. You could hear a pin drop as the audience hung on every word spoken by the iconic voice. Woody took us on a Carolina Blue journey including international travel, memorable flights, running down the streets of Manhattan to beat standstill traffic, and recounting some of the most memorable calls in UNC history.
During pre and post dinner receptions, I was constantly amazed at how dedicated these Tar Heels were and how much they love and miss Carolina. During the evening Earl Owens, president elect of the Atlanta Carolina Club, spoke about the accolades this group of alumni have earned. Owens was quick to mention that over the last 15 years the Club has received the GAA Outstanding Club Award 14 times. In 2012, the club will be recognized as an Old Well Carolina Club, the highest honor the GAA bestows on an alumni club. This was made possible by the extremely dedicated Tony Kearney, the current club president. Every year the club is extremely proud to fulfill their most important mission: to help alumni stay connected to their alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of the people.
The evening ended with Doug Dibbert, president of the UNC GAA, leading the room in a round of Hark the Sound. No band. No sound system playing the melody. Just voices of passionate Carolina Alumni filled the Loudermilk Center. As I headed back to my hotel I was blown away by how many Tar Heels there are in Atlanta. The state of Georgia is considered to have the second most alumni residents, only behind those alumni residing in North Carolina. I wasn’t expecting it, but what I found in Atlanta was a little piece of blue heaven.