Durham reflects on his history, details weekly routine

In 1995, Wes Durham came to The Flats from Vanderbilt to be the play-by-play announcer for Tech’s men’s basketball team and football team. Since then, he has announced games during the basketball team’s run to the NCAA Championship game in 2004 to the football team’s ACC Championship season in 2009 and every game in between. He has been there for the good and bad times, and as anyone listening to a Tech football on a Saturday afternoon will tell you, Durham is always the professional. He speaks with emotion, but he keeps a level head, a skill that has earned him the title “voice of the Yellow Jackets.”
“You don’t take it for granted. You never take this job for granted…The people here, coaches, fans, players, have been unbelievably supportive. It still feels like the first year sometimes, and I love what I do. It’s a blessing,” Durham said.
However, Durham’s career as an announcer would never came to fruition was it not for one day at basketball camp.
“I was six-feet-tall and 185 pounds at 12, and I thought I was going to be a basketball player. I went to a basketball camp when I was 14, and a really good player who went to Virginia dunked on me. I came away from the camp thinking this isn’t going to work the way I thought it was going to work,” Durham said.
Durham looked to his father for guidance. Durham’s father, Woody, was (and still is) the announcer for the North Carolina football team. Durham used his love of sports and the experience from watching his dad to fuel his announcing career.
“I was always fascinated by the radio. Back then the games weren’t on TV, so it changed the dynamic of what you did. When I was a younger kid, I was always fascinated by what he did. He had the good fortune to realize he wasn’t going to make it [as a professional athlete] too, and I was able to realize that there is something else out there,” Durham said.
Durham looked up to his father, but he did not want to follow his father’s path in the exact same way. Durham did not want to work for UNC all his life, but Durham was certainly not dreaming of Tech. Rather, Durham found out that Tech was dreaming of him. A close friend who worked at Tech told Durham that Tech was interested in him and a few months later, Durham found himself on The Flats.
“I was all ears. The thought of being in Atlanta, working the ACC and doing it at a place like Georgia Tech was very appealing to me…. My goal is to finish here,” Durham said.
Durham started doing football games at Tech along with basketball games. Durham even did about 40 baseball games a year until 2004, when the Atlanta Falcons came looking for him.
“The Falcons and [the radio station] asked me to do radio for the preseason games. That was my first introduction into the NFL. Then, in 2004, in the span of literally 72 hours, we had a deal done. The support I get for the people in that organization and the people here is unbelievable. If I didn’t have the support from both sides, then I couldn’t do it,” Durham said.
This year, Durham also started doing a radio show with fellow sports analyst Tony Barnhart.
“It’s a totally different deal. I love doing games and the radio show is fine. We get to listen to fans, and I think college football is all about opinion… It’s fun but is it what drives me? No, not really, but it’s fun to do. Tony and I are such good friends…[and] to be honest with you, what we talk about on the show is what we talk about on the phone,” Durham said.
With all of his duties to both organizations, one would assume that Durham is always busy. However, Durham’s experience in his field allows him to juggle his time between his jobs and his family.
Every Monday, Durham goes to work on his radio show with Barnhart from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then he goes to his office to prepare for upcoming games for a couple of hours. He then goes to Flowery Branch to do the Falcons radio show from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tuesday starts with the Paul Johnson radio show, and Durham focuses on preparing his notes for the upcoming games. On Tuesday night, he spends time with his children.
On Wednesday, it is back to the radio show with Barnhart, and he comes back to his office and finishes his preparation for the Tech game. Later in the day, Durham receives information from the NFL about the upcoming game.
Thursday is another morning at his radio show, and then it is time to really start what Durham calls “the grind day”. He makes sure his interviews are ready for the Tech game, and he starts digesting the large amount of material the NFL sends him. Friday is either a travel day with Tech or a day that Durham spends with his family, and the weekends are when Durham’s preparation comes into play. All you have to do is listen to hear how all the work comes through. In fact, Durham said that he has never accidentally called a professional player by a collegiate player’s name.
“[That] hasn’t happened to me yet [knocks on desk]. Now you’re jinxing me. It’s two different models, two different vibes. Going into the Falcons booth is totally different than walking into the Tech booth,” Durham said.
Tech fans hope that Durham continues to prepare for every Jackets game for a long time.

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