My parents were in their 40's and 50's respectively when I was born. They came from a generation that depended on the radio as most of us now depend on the internet or television. In each of their families, a critical part of their day was to sit around the radio at night listening to President Roosevelt's voice as he explained to the American people what was happening thousands of miles away. For me, such stories always conjured up rememberences of "The Waltons." But the idea of huddling around a radio to hear what is going on really wasn't that foreign of a concept for me.
That's because college football is like a religion in the south. It inspires a deep state and regional pride in many of us that stretches all the way back into the late 1800's and early 1900's where the south was still recovering from the effects of the Civil War. And as I was growing up in the early 80's, there weren't nearly as many college football games on television as there are now. Each fall Saturday, you can count on CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, and the Fox networks to all have football games without fail. They start as early as 12 noon and continue on past midnight sometimes.
But back "in the day," there were only a handfull of games on - perhaps 2 or 3 at the most. That meant that many fans around the country either had to attend the game in person or listen to it on the radio. For several generations of Georgians, Larry Munson was the eyes and ears of University of Georgia football. From Dalton to Bainbridge and from LaGrange to Brunswick, thousands felt the pain of defeat and the jubilation of victory as described by the least likely of men. Munson, who is in his 80's now, isn't from Georgia. He's a native Minnesotan. He has no "twang" as they say. He's worked as a radio guy from Wyoming to Nashville. But little did he or the Georgia people know that when he began his tenure as play-by-play man for UGA in 1966, a legend was being born. He's long since become one of us.
This wasn't limited to the state of Georgia. Virtually every state where football is king has their own version of Larry Munson. And on those rare times when I was able to hitch a ride with someone making the 5 hour trip to Athens to see the "Dawgs" play, it was always a part of the routine on the way home to scan the radio dial to pick up Clemson's Jim Phillips, Tennessee's John Ward, Georgia Tech's Al Ciraldo, or another one of my favorites, the late Jim Fyffe at Auburn. Along with Munson, these men all had that old "homer" style of putting aside their objectivity and saying things like "we" instead of "they." Those men are endeared to those of us from those days. In fact, even today, when watching a game on t.v., I will mute its volume so that I can turn on the radio and hear our guy Larry make the call.
Wherever he goes, friends and foes alike in and around college football know Larry. He's respected by all, if not loved. He's generally known as the best in his business. And that's not just a UGA fan talking. Larry's a member of the Broadcasting Hall of Fame and two of his calls ("Run, Lindsay, Run!" and "Look at the sugar falling from the sky........") have been touted by ESPN and Sports Illustrated as being two of the best calls of all time in any sport.
Tonight, Larry is being roasted in celebration of his 40th year of being "The Voice" of the Georgia Bulldogs. People from all over the country and from several different schools will be on hand to help. All I can say is "thank you" Larry. And here's hoping for 40 more!! GO DAWGS!!