is hands down the best site on the Web for classic TV.'
shows on DVD
by Jim Longworth
In sports, statistics matter, and Woody Durham had them in spades: 14 years as sports director for WFMY-TV in Greensboro; 40 years as the radio voice of the Carolina Tar Heels; play by play man for 1,800 football and basketball games, including 23 Bowl games; announcer for 4 National basketball championships, and 13 Final Fours. But there’s no statistic that can describe Woody’s commitment to his craft. UNC head coach Roy Williams said of Woody, “He prepared for each game as if it were the national championship.” He also prepared every TV broadcast with that same level of intensity. I know because I witnessed it first hand.
I met Woody in 1974 when “Channel 2” hired me to run studio camera and put sports scores on screen for his daily newscasts. Eventually I wormed my way onto the anchor desk as late night weatherman. It was my first on-air job, and I was thrilled to be sharing the stage with a broadcasting legend, especially one who worked so hard to prepare his material. The preparation paid off because Woody never made mistakes, and that put pressure on the rest of us to do our best.
A year or so later, Woody left WFMY to focus more of his energies on Carolina sports, and what energies they were. Listening to Woody Durham call a close game on the radio was like having Rembrandt paint you a masterpiece with words, except that Rembrandt graduated from Carolina and hated Duke. But by 2011, the words no longer came as easily to Woody as they once had. Writing in his autobiography, “Woody Durham: a Tar Heel Voice”, Woody said that he felt he wasn’t as sharp on air as he’d like to be. Ever the perfectionist, he retired from broadcasting rather than make a mistake on air. The fact is he was feeling the early effects of aphasia, a disease that would gradually rob him of his extraordinary ability to communicate. It was a cruel twist of fate for a man who painted pictures with words. On March 7, that booming Tar Heel voice was silenced forever. Woody Durham was 76.
My most treasured memory of Woody came in September of 2012 when he stopped by the Triad Today studio to plug his new book, and to promote a fund- raising project for Ronald McDonald House. Here are a few highlights of our last time together in a TV studio.
JL: You’re a real legend.
WD: (laughs) I tell people who say I’m a legend, that I had 900 lettermen, and six different coaches, and they all made old Woody sound pretty good on Saturday afternoons.
JL: You developed a love for Carolina at an early age.
WD: My dad came back from WWII and we were living in Mebane at the time. He and my mother both grew up in the Chapel Hill area, and Dad had been a real football fan. He told me about how he used to ride into Keenan stadium on the running boards of Coca Cola trucks, so of course he and Mom had season tickets. I really did become a football fan then.
JL: You played football in high school where you met your future wife Jean. But she later said that it wasn’t love at first sight for her because you were arrogant. Is that true?
WD: Maybe I was trying to be older than 15. As a matter of fact I told her that I was 16, so that she would think we were the same age, and she later found out that wasn’t quite the truth. I think that’s the only time I ever told her something that wasn’t true (smiles).
During the interview Woody also talked about his friend, coach Dean Smith.
WD: He’d meet a person in Chapel Hill, and six months later he’d see that person at the airport, and was able to call them by name. He had a terrific mind for remembering people’s names.
Woody Durham also had a terrific mind, and on the day we taped our segment, his was as sharp as ever, and his speech was picture perfect. I will always be grateful for that brief reunion, and for the time we worked together at WFMY.
Back then, Woody set the bar high for everyone who worked with him, and I’m lucky that some of his professionalism rubbed off on me. They say it’s not bragging if it’s true. I never heard Woody brag about himself, but if he had, it would have been true, because he was the best at what he did.
Jim Longworth is a columnist for YESWeekly.com, and author of the "TV Creators" series of books. He also serves as judge for the primetime EMMYs, and hosts a weekly TV show for Sinclair stations.
Post-Modern Sitcoms / Actors That Wrote Books / 1987 Gilbert Gottfried Pilot Written By Larry David / Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci Talk Goodfellas / Houston Knights / Restaurant Chains We Might Lose In 2020 / Night Heat / When TV Plays Politics for Laughs / The Worst Thing I Ever Saw (Part 2) / Gene Wilder's Sexual Chemistry with Richard Pryor / WORST Pizzas Served On Kitchen Nightmares / Ricky Gervais' Cruelly Funny 2020 Golden Globe Monologue / Space Force Logo is a Ripoff from Star Trek! / Melissa McCarthy Almost Quit Acting Days Before Landing Gilmore Girls / Bar Rescue's Wildest Customers! / How The Golden Girls and Elvis Got Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs Made / Charlie Brown Voice Actor Released From Prison / New Year's Eve on TV / Sir Laurence Olivier on the 'Genius' of Marlon Brando / 1967 Futurists Predict The 21st Century / Remembering Diahann Carroll / 50 Funniest Niles Crane Insults / TV HITS - By the Numbers / How Tom Hanks Played Mr. Rogers / Colin Farrell as The Penguin? / Alex Baldwin On His TV and Film Roles / Why Dolly Parton Would Not Let Elvis Record 'I Will Always Love You' / Top Ten Sitcoms of the 1970s / Danny McBride Rebooting Hogan's Heroes? / Fashion on TV / Alive & Well / James Cameron Made No Money for Titanic / Whatever Happened To Miss Cleo? / Lucy Blows Off Burt Reynolds / Dave Navarro Meets His Mother's Killer / The Real Mindhunters Killers / John Goodman Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Growing Up In The Playboy Mansion / Ed McMahon Drunk on the Air! / Lucy Interviewed by Barbara Walters / Valerie Harper Cancer / Jeff Bridges Breaks Down His Iconic Roles / Dog Fight! The KCNC Scandal / Buckley vs Hefner / Laurence Olivier vs Marilyn Monroe / Dallas vs Eight is Enough / 1974 MAD Magazine TV Special - Never Aired! / Iconic M*A*S*H Restaurant Coming To Kroger? / Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and Graham Norton - Big Laughs! / When Lucy Got Fired / Partridge Family and Brady Bunch at Kings Island theme park 1972-73 / Awkward Talk Show Moments / Allan Blye Interview / Jack Benny's Last Tonight Show 1974 / Patricia Heaton's Audition for Everybody Loves Raymond / Luke Perry's Last Role / Johnny Cash's Last Interview / Judy Garland's Last Film / Richard Dreyfuss vs Bill Murray / Jeff Ross vs Everybody / Tennessee Williams 1972 Interview / Ed Asner Interview / Norm Macdonald vs OJ Simpson / Tony Kornheiser Interview / Freddy's Nightmares TV Series / Awful 1990s TV Shows / The Funniest Comebacks in Talk Show History / Was Sonny Bono Murdered? / Robin Williams' Mrs. Doubtfire Screen Tests / Robert Downey Jr Asks for Forgiveness for Mel Gibson / Russell Brand / Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave / Judy Garland vs Liz Taylor / Emmy Award Multiple Winners / Nathaniel Taylor aka Rollo Lawson / Anthony Zuiker: Mr. CSI / Jimmy & Cher / Diana Muldaur: A Viewer's History / Uncle Andy's Funhouse / Bea Arthur vs Betty White / Skidoo: Worst All-Star Comedy Ever? / Every Marvel Cartoon Opening Theme From 1966 - Present / When Stars Play Themselves / My Pen Pal is in the Pen, Pal / Small Roles Big Performances / Barbara Hall / Stars Before They Were Famous / Stars Before They Were Famous 2 / Stars Before They Were Famous 3 / A Better Classic TV Network / Bill Paxton / Who Was the Black Daliah? / How Frasier Was Created / Music Videos / Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Behind the Scenes / Shirley Jones Interview / What We Lost When We Lost VHS / When Hit TV Shows Return / Commercials Starring Sopranos Cast Members / Shows Nobody Remembers But Me 4 / Shows Nobody Remembers But Me 1 / Bryan Cranston Interview / FREE streaming movie service you didnít know you have / State of TV Commercials / The Great Cable TV Migration / Sportscaster Woody Durham / Movie Posters and the documentary 24x36 /Chris Robinson /Dallas Reboot /David Letterman /Auditioning For Game Shows in the 80s /Ghosts of Cable TV past / Honey Boo Boo - WTF?!? / Steven Bochco Tribute / Ian Abercrombie / Joe Franklin / John Nettles / Gotham / Jon Cryer / Jon Stewart / Lana Wood / David Letterman / Matt Bomer / Molly Ringwald / Morgan Brittany / Music Rights for TV Shows / Neilsen Ratings / Norman Lloyd / Not Your Dad's TV / TV Series Reunions / Rich Little / Special Bulletin with George Clooney / Howard Stern VS Jamie Foxx / Top Ten Action Movies / 2013 Emmy Awards / 2010 Celebrity Deaths
Lost Kid Shows / Movie Stars on TV / Saturday Morning Shows / Video Vault / TV Goodbyes / Fabulous Fifties / Unseen Scenes / Game Shows / Requested Forgotten TV Shows / The Super Sixties / More Modern TV Shows / The New * * Shows / 1980's Wrestling / TV Blog
|TV's Embarrassing Moments / Action Shows of the Sixties / TVparty Mysteries and Scandals / Variety Shows of the 1970s / The Eighties / The Laugh Track / 1970's Hit Shows / Response to TVparty / Search the Site / Add Your Comments|