When long-time Liberty University play-by-play broadcaster Jerry Edwards retired last spring from his position as the “voice of the Flames,” the athletics department began a nationwide search for a replacement. Edward’s replacement had to be an individual who could not only convey the intensity of Liberty athletics, but who would also be committed to the university’s mission and statement of faith. That search concluded with the hiring of Alan York, a small-town, Carolina man with major broadcasting experience.
York was a multi-sport high school and college athlete who has been working in the radio field for more than three decades. Most recently he worked for the sports marketing company ISP, where he assisted with the broadcast of ACC and other conference’s games. He also has experience broadcasting Big South games, as he has worked with High Point University during basketball season.
York’s first Liberty game-day broadcast will air on Sept. 4, when he covers the Flames vs. St. Francis football game from the Lynchburg City Stadium. Here’s a play-by-play on how York ended up as the new voice of the Flames.
Q: You traveled extensively while working as an ISP broadcaster, but where are you originally from?
York: “I tell people Mayberry, because honestly, it is. I’m from Mount Airy, North Carolina. Andy Griffith grew up and was born in Mount Airy and the town is the inspiration for “The Andy Griffith Show,” even though that show was filmed in Hollywood. You’ll hear about Snappy Lunch on the show, which is still operating downtown. It’s famous for fried pork chop sandwiches. Floyd’s [City] Barber Shop is also still open. It’s a town of about 8,000 people.”
Q: Did you grow up playing and watching sports?
“Yes, I loved baseball a whole lot. It has always been real high on my priority list. I played football and baseball for a small Division III school in Greensboro, called Guilford College.”
Q: Who is your favorite professional team?
“Right now, the Chicago White Sox. I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan. Being from the South, you kind of gravitate towards your hometown team. My first major league baseball game was in Atlanta. So I like the Braves a whole lot, even though they were horrible when I was growing up. They kind of turned the corner eventually, and I followed them through college, but when I got out of college I started broadcasting for a minor league baseball team, and it was a Chicago White Sox affiliate, so I’ve followed them more the past ten years.”
Q: How did your athleticism translate into a radio career?
“I was smart enough to realize in college that I wasn’t going to play [sports] professionally, but thought that the best way to live through athletics and to travel and be part of a program was to get into broadcasting. Our sports information director, Dave Walters, was in charge of game day staffing [at Guilford] and one day he mentioned to me that they needed a P.A. announcer for basketball, and I thought that was sort of like radio, so I started doing that. I also did an internship at ISP after my junior year. I’ve met some great people along the way who have helped me kick-start my career. Radio is a medium that does not pay [well], but when you do it, you fall in love with it.”
Q: Did you have trouble breaking into the field once you graduated?
“After I graduated, I started working at our local NBC affiliate. It was a news/talk/weather [radio] station in conjunction with a TV station. I was there for three months and then they sold that station, so I was out of a job again. I found a production assistant job [at a TV station], and at night I helped out with the [Winston-Salem Warthogs] minor league baseball broadcast. So I went to work at 3 o’clock in the morning and would get home at 10 or 11 o’clock at night. I was sleeping like four hours a day, but I knew that I needed to get the experience and pay the bills.”
Q: So when did you get your first full-time broadcasting job?
“Before 2002’s baseball season my boss said ‘I’m moving on to a higher level, and you’ve been here two years, so get a tape together and send it to our general manager and we will see what happens.’ I did it, and luckily got my first full-time job. During that time I also made some contacts and got a High Point basketball broadcasting job in the winter, and I also helped out ISP part-time.”
Q: Your part-time position at ISP eventually turned into a full-time job. What schools did you broadcast for while working there?
“I was able to fill in for Stan Cotten at a Wake [Forest University] basketball game, when he had a football conflict in late November. We produced broadcasts for over 40 schools and we also put on a national broadcast for the ACC.”
Q: Where will you be covering Liberty games from?
“For basketball, we will be courtside in “press row.” We are right next to the floor. There might be a yard that separates us from the court. So we get a very good vantage point of what’s going on. Football is a little different since we now have a five-story press box, so I will be high atop the field with a good spotter, who will be sitting beside me helping me follow all the action.”
Q: How will your coverage differ from that of an outside broadcaster?
“This is going to be a biased broadcast. The listening base is going to be more intense than during a national broadcast.”
Q: What is appealing to you about working with the Flames?
“It’s exciting to be the voice of a school. With ISP I was working with six or seven schools during a week, and that’s a lot of work. Now I’ve got one school, and that’s Liberty. I can put all my energy into this campus.”