Today’s post comes from Jack Hilliard, frequent contributor to A View to Hugh.
In Tar Heel territory you don’t need to add his last name . . . all you need is “Woody” and all will know of whom you speak. Since he announced his retirement back in April, his name has been in the news on a regular basis. But today, August 18th, brought the biggest announcement since his retirement news conference on April 20th. Woody Lombardi Durham, “the voice of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels” for the past forty years, has won the National Football Foundation’s Chris Schenkel Award for 2011.
Woody adds this prestigious award to a resume that already lists memberships in four halls of fame. He has called play-by-play on 1,805 football and men’s basketball games on the Tar Heel Sports Network since the fall of 1971. A 1963 graduate of UNC, Woody is a thirteen-time recipient of the North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year Award. His hall of fame memberships include the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Stanly County Sports Hall of Fame and the Mebane Sports Hall of Fame. Durham was recently the guest of honor at the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce and Central Carolina Community College Small Business Center’s annual Small Business Banquet, where he was presented with their Lifetime Achievement Award.
Over the years, Woody has received:
- a distinguished service medal from the UNC General Alumni Association for outstanding service to the University and the alumni association;
- the William R. Davie Award, given by the UNC Board of Trustees to recognize extraordinary service to the University;
- the Skeeter Francis Award for special service to the Atlantic Coast Conference;
- the Russell Blunt Legends Award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for being a true legend in athletics;
- the Lindsey Nelson Outstanding Sportscaster Award from the All-American Football Foundation;
- with his wife, Jean, the Outstanding Service Award from the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Board of Visitors;
- a Priceless Gem from UNC Athletics; and
- a Distinguished Service Award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
Woody Durham has a full set of journalistic and broadcasting tools. His voice is distinctive. His writing is superior and his research and preparation techniques are legendary—and he brings all those professional skills together with a personal, down- home touch. Folks who combine all those qualities are rare these days and UNC was fortunate to have Woody behind the mic for forty seasons.
When the red light comes on, Woody’s at the top of his game. He’s been Tar Heel fans’ trusted companion and has set a standard that will be tough to match.
I had the privilege of working with Woody for thirteen years while he was Sports Director at WFMY-TV in Greensboro and during that time I got to see the masterful job he does with everything he undertakes. Be it a one-hour documentary with Charlie Justice or a ten second tease for the 11 o’clock news, the approach was the same: carefully research, then script it and deliver it with dignity, class, and style.
On December 6, 2011, Woody will be honored at the 54th Annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York with the Chris Schenkel Award. Every year, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame presents this award to “a sports broadcaster who has had a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football.” The selection committee seeks to recognize broadcasters with direct ties to colleges and universities. First presented in 1996, the award bears the name of its first recipient, CBS and ABC sports broadcaster Chris Schenkel, whose commitment to excellence in broadcasting and a longstanding association with the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, reflect the spirit of the award.
In December of 1961, Hugh Morton attended this event and photographed his friend Charlie Justice as he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. I think we can assume that Hugh will be there in his own way for Woody.
Congratulations Woody . . . this award is truly deserved and long overdue.
In addition to the picture above, Hugh Morton photographed Woody Durham on several occasions throughout his career. Please visit the online collection of Morton photographs to see more images of Woody Durham.