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Woody Durham, legendary ‘Voice of the Tar Heels,’ has passed away

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Every major moment in North Carolina history was scored by Durham’s trademark voice.

“The Voice of the Tar Heels,” broadcasting legend Woody Durham died on Wednesday at his home from complications from Primary Progressive Aphasia. He was 76-years old.

Only a few broadcasters in sports history are so indelibly linked to the teams they cover that they’re worthy of joining the pantheon of players and coaches honored for all time. North Carolina’s Woody Durham belongs in that pantheon, because when it comes to Tar Heel basketball he wasn’t just the team’s radio voice — he was the team.

Durham was Carolina through-and-through. He grew up in Mebane, NC — just outside Chapel Hill, and began a broadcasting career at 16-years old, when he did color commentary for his high school. He graduated from North Carolina in 1963, and immediately began working as a football commentator for Wake Forest before returning home in 1971.

For 40 years Durham was “The Voice of the Tar Heels.” Every major moment in team history was scored with his trademark blend of informative play-by-play, and melodious timbre. It takes a rare talent to convey the action of a game to radio listeners, but he did — every week for four decades. When Carolina won the 1982 National Championship his cry of “How ‘bout them Heels!” became a rallying cry for school, still used to this day, and would be later copied by Jimmy Johnson and applied to the Cowboys in the NFL.

Everyone in North Carolina, Tar Heels fan or otherwise, will remember one of his calls from some point in their life. Perhaps it was the game they heard in the car, or seeing their parents or grandparents mute the TV and turn on the radio just to hear Durham’s call of the game. When you remember a play in Carolina history it’s never silent, always coupled in your memory with a Woody Durham call. The Voice of the Tar Heels may have retired in 2011, but his legacy will live on forever.

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