Wes Durham '88 named School's Distinguished Alumnus

The Mass Communication graduate and Atlanta Falcons play-by-play voice was honored with the School's second annual alumni award.

Wes Durham '88 (second from left) stands among Communications faculty (l-r) Gerald Gibson, Don Grady and Ray Johnson, whom Durham called the "Mount Rushmore of the School of Communications."
Wes Durham ’88, the radio play-by-play voice of the Georgia Tech football and basketball teams since 1995 and the radio voice of the Atlanta Falcons for the last nine years, was recognized with the second annual Distinguished Alumni Award in the School of Communications April 25.

Durham, who is one of only four people in the country to call major college football games on Saturday and NFL games on Sunday, was honored at the conclusion of the School’s annual awards ceremony. And Durham said he was excited to return to campus to accept his award.

“I’m honored to receive an award like this,” Durham said. “But you’re especially honored when it comes from a place you still call home.”

Durham’s training in broadcasting began early and quickly, perhaps unknowingly being born into the family profession. His father is Woody Durham, who retired in 2011 after spending 40 years as the “Voice of the Tar Heels.” But Wes Durham found his personal passion for play-by-play as a student at Elon, where he called more than 150 football and basketball games in four years, which resulted in an accumulation of “a lot of bad tape,” he joked.

Durham was selected in January as the “Georgia Sportscaster of the Year” by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association for the eighth time overall and third time in the last four years. Before heading to Atlanta, Durham spent three years doing football and basketball play-by-play at Vanderbilt, where he won Associated Press honors for best play-by-play and sports reporting. He has also previously worked at Marshall and Radford universities.

Four years after graduating from Elon with a degree in Mass Communication in 1988, Elon honored Durham with its “Outstanding Young Alumnus” award.

“Wes, I guess you notice we don’t have the word ‘young’ on our award,” said Communications Dean Paul Parsons. “It’s been replaced with the word “distinguished.’”  

Durham’s wife, Victoria, his parents, Woody and Jean, and his brother, Taylor, who graduated from Elon in 1996 and does radio color commentary for Elon football games, were in attendance.

“The one thing we had as students 25 years ago is what the students have today—a passion to do it,” Durham said. “I’m really impressed, really in awe of you students who go to school here. Congratulations. You’ve made my degree so valuable.”

Durham is the third alumnus of the School to win the Distinguished Alumni Award. Last year, Jo Craven McGinty ’85, New York Times project editor and part of two Pulitzer Prize winning teams, and Doug Finberg ’94, the executive vice president for Marketing at MGM Studios in Los Angeles, were both honored with the inaugural award.