June 20, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Ever wonder what the voice of the Yellow Jackets does with summer down time? Wes Durham was in the office at Georgia Tech when I stopped by the other day, and he was . . . working.
Make no mistake, Durham finds more time in the first couple months of summer to read material that does not relate to work, and he plays a little more golf, and sees more of his family.
He also plays the role of ambassador more frequently than during the school year, meeting, greeting, socializing and sometimes golfing with “constituents of the program” more than during the school year.
The general sports radio show he does with Tony Barnhart is on hiatus as well. Thursday, though, he was working.
It was not the nose-to-the-grindstone stuff of the Tech football and basketball seasons, nor was he researching the Atlanta Falcons or any upcoming opponents. But football was on his mind.
Durham was tweaking “drive charts,” trying to stream-line his note-taking methods so that the charts he uses during game broadcasts are more efficient. Wes, you don’t do this kind of fiddling every day this time of year, do you? Durham: “This time of year, it’s pretty easy. It’s the offseason and I treat it as such. I’ve powered it down pretty good. The people here obviously understand, I guess, that I’m a little bit like a coach. I’m trying to re-set the sanity button, the power box, the batteries, whatever.
“It’s probably been a little different for me in that we stopped doing the [790 a.m.] radio show in May. I think we’ll probably go back on the air in late July. With the [NFL] lockout, some of what I would normally do with the Falcons this time of year has changed.”
Sting Daily: Do you come into the office a couple times a week?
Durham: “I try to be here most days. A lot of people that I have to put off during the course of the season . . . yesterday, two folks who are Georgia Tech football fans who have a suite have invited me to play golf, and I did that. That’s important. Those are constituents of our program.
“On the caravan stops, coach [Paul] Johnson and I have become friends with some folks and . . . we try to do things with them from time to time. Paul and I have developed a friendship. I think that helps the vibe of the program.”
Sting Daily: In what ways have you begun to plan for next season(s)?
Durham: “I’ve put together a travel card. I’ve done some of the logistics that I need to do to get through the fall. Pretty soon, in late July, it will crank back up.”
Sting Daily: Any conflicts?
Durham: “The Tech opening-night game against Western Carolina [Thursday, Sept. 1] is the same night as the Falcons’ final preseason game. And, I will have to go from Raleigh, N.C., to Seattle. If the game time is right for N.C. State, it’ll be easy. Even if it’s a night game, there’s still a flight . . . that gets into Seattle at 11. That’ll give me two hours. That’d be fine.
Sting Daily: Going back to the radio show with Tony, that seems to be going well. Is it?
Durham: “It’s gone well from our perspective. It’s just not something that mentally or physically we can do year-round. The people with [sponsor] Lincoln Financial and 790 have been very supportive and understanding.
“I think we do a different kind of show, a show that people like and support. They also understand that Tony and I enjoy the radio show, and this is not to in any way disparage anyone who works full-time at the radio station, but those are not the No. 1 things we do. I think doing the games is No. 1 for me, whether it’s Tech or the Falcons, and the preparation for those games.”
Wes and I spoke quite a bit longer, but I’ll reserve some of that for another entry or two. Here’s a teaser: Durham said he never spoke with anyone at the University of North Carolina about the open mic in Chapel Hill after his father retired as a broadcaster a few months ago. That retirement plan, by the way, was hatched to a great degree in the office in which we sat the other day.
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