When North Carolina fans turn on their radios to tune into UNC games next season, the “Voice of the Tar Heels” will be a less familiar one.
Tar Heel Sports Network play-by-play announcer Woody Durham announced his retirement at a press conference Wednesday. The broadcaster has called UNC games for 40 years.
During his time in the booth, Durham witnessed more than 1,800 football and basketball games, including 23 bowls and 13 Final Fours.
He said that recently he has not been living up to his own standards.
“My presentation during these past seasons, over the 2010-2011 season, was not always what I wanted, so I knew it was time,” Durham said. “I wanted it to be my decision and not that of somebody else a few years from now.”
An Elite Eight appearance after an up-and-down season might seem like a pedestrian finale for a career that has included coverage of four UNC national championships — but not to Durham.
“The thing about it is,” he said, “I couldn’t be more proud of Butch Davis and Roy Williams with the way they handled these past seasons.”
The 1963 UNC graduate started calling games in 1971 after athletic director Homer Rice approached him about the position.
“When I started, I had no timetable as to how long I wanted to do it, certainly not 40 years, but good gracious, what a ride,” Durham said. “So many consider me a part of Carolina and I thank them for that compliment.”
Durham was employed by Learfield Sports, but UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said the University will be involved in the process of finding his replacement. Both of Durham’s sons are in the sports broadcasting industry and are potential candidates for the job.
“If it would happen to be another Durham, I could walk away content that it would be done right,” Durham said.
Though UNC has often been a single stop in the journeys of coaches and players over the years, Durham and his captivating voice have remained a constant in the program.
“My favorite saying about Woody is Woody doesn’t tell it like it is, he tells it like we want to hear it.’” Baddour said.
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