Behind the Mic

Matt Wyatt & Will Kollmeyer

Oftentimes when I write a story, I have to leave out a whole bunch of good information. It’s kind of like when directors delete scenes from a movie – they might be entertaining, but they don’t advance the central plot.

This was especially the case with my story about area football radio broadcasters. I interviewed 10 people for this piece – well, Gene Phelps interviewed two of them – and I wanted to talk with several others. But then I looked and saw that I had 2,200 words worth of notes. And as the focus of this story was on the connection between broadcaster and community, I realized I had plenty of material.

So consider the following nuggets leftovers, except much better than that week-old meatloaf you keep avoiding.

• When Booneville broadcaster Blake Jones (WBIP-AM, 1400) started calling Blue Devil games, he was playing basketball for Northeast Mississippi Community College. During basketball season, he would practice until 5:30 p.m., grab a shower, and be in New Site or some other remote locale by 6:15.

• After each Booneville win, Jones tells listeners, “Wrap it in Blue and Gold.” That is a slight reworking of Mississippi State play-by-play man Jack Cristil’s line, “Wrap this one in Maroon and White.” Jones said, with a laugh, “I didn’t get that from him, he got that from me.”

• Knowing the game of football is a requirement for a good color commentator. Amory color guy David Hodo used to officiate high school games. “He’s very knowledgeable of what’s going on on the field,” WAFM-FM (95.7) owner Ed Stanford said.

The most distinguished color crew belongs to Tupelo’s WSYE-FM (93.3), which boasts former college quarterbacks Jon Darnell (Ole Miss) and Matt Wyatt (Mississippi State). They take turns in that role, and play-by-play man Craig Horton alternates with former television sports anchor Will Kollmeyer. “Will Kollmeyer, Matt Wyatt and Jon Darnell are the perfect guys to round out our crew,” Horton said.

• A lot of these guys have been in the booth for a while. Jimmy Anderson, of Corinth’s WXRZ-FM (94.3), has called games since 1970. “I’ve been told that I’ve broadcast at least three generations (of athletes),” he said. “I know the young kids, but I know their fathers and mothers.” And grandparents.

David Jenkins calls Baldwyn’s games for WBVV-FM (99.3), and he flies solo. On the sidelines. Jenkins has been following the action with both his eyes and feet for years, ever since broadcasters could start piping their call through cell phones. “You see penalties a lot better,” he said. “If you’re two or three inches short, you can get right there on the line and see it. You can see blocks and hits and all that that you just can’t get a feeling of in the booth.” The only hard part: keeping track of punts and kickoffs.

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