Even when Wes Durham came in to audition for a play-by-play job with Fox Sports South in May, his would-be employers still weren’t sure he would actually leave his position at Georgia Tech. Then the tryout began, with Durham and a color analyst hopeful calling the action on an old game.
“It didn’t take too long,” Fox Sports South executive producer Randy Stephens said. “I kind of looked at one of my colleagues who was running the auditions with me (and said), ‘He’s too good.’”
Wednesday, the news became official that Durham’s landing spot after 18 award-winning years as the beloved voice of the Yellow Jackets will be the Atlanta-based cable outlet. After a career on radio that was spawned as an undergrad at Elon College (now Elon University), a new challenge will greet Durham for his first broadcast, the Florida International-Maryland game Aug. 31 in College Park, Md.
“Obviously, the one (difference) is it’s an entirely different medium,” Durham said. “You’re doing radio, you’re essentially the producer, the announcer, the editor, the director. You are essentially the medium for somebody to be a part of the game. In television, obviously, you work with a bigger team. That’s part of the mindset I have, is kind of getting into that medium and working with the talent that they’ve had on that package for years.”
Stephens, who began at Fox Sports South in December, said he met Durham at a Tech basketball game with no intentions of luring him away from Tech. Later, Durham’s agent, Mark Carmony, mentioned to Stephens that his client had some interest in television. Durham’s ability and audition pushed the issue.
“He was very aware that one of the things we were looking for was whether he could give us a TV call rather than a radio call,” Stephens said. “I think one of the tougher things guys who bounce back and forth from the two mediums find is that, on TV, you don’t have to describe every little thing, but he was totally on board for taking that approach.”
Durham, 47, will do 14 ACC football games a year along with another 40 or so basketball and baseball games. He will appear on broadcasts on regional sports networks throughout the ACC footprint.
“Our plan is to try to make him our man for all seasons on the ACC in football, basketball, baseball,” Stephens said.
Durham will continue his duties as play-by-play voice for the Falcons, a job he has held since 2004.
The search for Durham’s replacement at Tech is well underway. IMG College, which is Tech’s multimedia rights holder, has narrowed its list of roughly 150 applicants down to 30. Officials from Tech and IMG College will meet soon to trim the list to about seven candidates, who will be brought in for interviews.
Among known applicants are WXIA sports anchor Randy Waters, who is also the analyst for Tech basketball; Citadel play-by-play voice Danny Reed; and Mike Morgan, who is the Gwinnett Braves television voice, occasionally appears on 790 the Zone and previously called South Carolina football, basketball and baseball. Another who has thrown in his hat is Tech student Nolan Alexander, who has called Tech baseball games for the past three years on the student radio station WREK.
“How many times does this position come open?” asked Alexander. “I felt like there’s no reason not to apply.”