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Greetings from The Booth!
“I’m never going back… to my old school.” –Steely Dan, “My Old School”
As August starts to blend into September, and hints of Fall show themselves in an occasional cool morning or late afternoon shadow, I get the familiar “memory pangs” of going back to school. One of those is of August 1977, the Summer I went off to college at Alderson-Broaddus in Philippi, West Virginia. That institution of higher learning, now known as Alderson-Broaddus University, recently announced that due to financial struggles, it would be closing it’s doors and would dissolve after 91 years of existence.
When I heard that news, I immediately felt like a part of me ceased to exist. I attended (then) AB College in 1977-78 before transferring to Shepherd College to be closer to home. But those 2 years were crammed with memories, mostly good ones. I’ll always remember my first real radio experience, as de-facto manager of WQAB, the campus radio station, where I signed on every morning at 6 before my first class. Other great memories include almost daily frisbee sessions with my friend John Sutton, Friday trips to the Fairmont Mall, “Suite 13: Blame Me” t-shirts (a long story), frat football, and watching “Roots” with my friend Les Grovatt. It was also at AB where I got the chance to work an overnight shift at nearby WKKW in Clarksburg, in retrospect, not a great fit for a student taking a full load of classes in the day. But the experience was invaluable.
Where sports is concerned, my play-by-play career, which continues today, started with Alderson-Broaddus Women’s Basketball. The men’s gig was not available, as it was being handled by the great Jim Daddysman, who was a professor at AB and had commercial play-by-play experience. He was very good, and I learned quite a bit from him by osmosis. That left women’s basketball, so I, along with the aforementioned Sutton, obtained a grant from a local Philippi shoe store (advertising was not allowed on a 5-watt campus station), whose proprietor had a daughter on the team. With that grant, we were able to order broadcast lines and travel to various spots in the WVIAC and broadcast the games. I’ll always remember the trips to Salem, Fairmont, Davis & Elkins, West Virginia Wesleyan, and beyond.
As for the broadcasts, I handled the play-by-play, while Sutton and Grovatt provided the color commentary. Although calling the games provided no academic credit, the experience was like a college lab. I even got critiqued by one Myron Cope, the legendary Pittsburgh Steeler color analyst and inventor of The Terrible Towel. Imagine my thrill when he called me “an exciting young broadcaster.” Being the “voice” of AB Women’s Basketball was the springboard to a play-by-play career which continues today, and has allowed me to call state championship football games, NCAA football, and college basketball.
So, it is with sadness that I write this epitaph to Alderson-Broaddus University: Thank you AB. I was not always the best student, but you pointed me in the right direction to the thing I was meant to do in life. I will always be a Battler.
Until the next visit from the Booth…GO BATTLERS!