There are voices that are unmistakable, iconic, always familiar and reassuring in one’s life. Woody Durham’s voice was one of those voices for me. You see for die hard Carolina fans, Woody Durham was the voice you’d turn off the TV to listen to on the radio, while you watched Carolina basketball or football. He was the play by play announcer for the Tar Heels for 40 years, indeed my whole adult life from the time I was at Carolina in 1971 until now. Woody was careful and he was colorful. One of my favorite expressions of his was ‘go to war Mrs. Agnes’ which he would trot out whenever the Tar Heels would go on a tear. As a 1963 alum of Carolina, Woody was true blue in every way. He bled Carolina blue. He was not just another hired gun of a voice. He lived and died with the Tar Heels, and he loved the coaches and players. You could just feel his love and passion in the way he described the games.
For me the most important part was Woody was one of my strong connections with my Dad. Dad and I used to listen to Woody at the games, before the games, after the games, at home with the TV sound turned off—- you name it. It was Woody or bust, Woody or no one. Woody was a gentleman, and he had that wonderful North Carolina accent that simply spelled home to me. When I first moved to Ohio, I was so thrilled to discover that WBT in Charlotte had a strong enough signal that I could pick up the Carolina broadcasts on the radio, even though it would often fade in and out.
I watched today the retirement announcement of Woody, and then some of his most famous ‘calls’, of course all four North Carolina national championships that he was there to broadcast, and lots of other highlights, like the famous 1974 game where the Tar Heels scored 8 points in 17 seconds to beat those ole Blue Devils one more time. Woody has decided to retire from broadcasting while he still has plenty of gas in the tank, but I know that a book of his many experiences is likely to be in the works. Somewhere up there in heaven my Dad is singing ‘Hark the Sound of Tar Heel voices’ and repeating Woody’s famous phrases.
Farewell Woody— You will be missed. Thanks for being part of so many joyful memories and helping us see those events with new eyes.