A new friendship between two admired Chapel Hillians

Dec. 15, 2012 @ 01:55 PM

Something that happens every now and then in the holiday season is special. It is when two of your friends meet and they like each other!
Double rewards if they both still like you and you get to share their fun in knowing each other.
So when I learned that two of my favorite people had met and developed a firm friendship I got really excited.
And if you are a regular viewer of “North Carolina Bookwatch,” you probably remember seeing William Leuchtenburg, the leading expert on the presidency, who has appeared on the program several times. The other is someone whose voice you will remember if you are a sports fan, Woody Durham, longtime voice of the Tar Heels.
If you are like me, when you hear the Leuchtenburg or the Durham voice you listen up because you know you are going to be hearing some things that are worth listening to.
How did they get to be friends? Durham and his wife, Jean, and Leuchtenburg and his wife, Jeananne, were hosts on a recent Carolina Alumni travel experience along the Northeast coast and up the Hudson River.
Durham says that Leuchtenburg’s formal lectures about Franklin Roosevelt were terrific, especially when he compared more recent presidents, like Barack Obama, to Roosevelt, and Leuchtenburg, an unapologetic sports fan, loved hearing Durham’s inside stories about coaches and players.
Leuchtenburg has written so many books I can’t count them, but when I saw Woody Durham and Professor Leuchtenburg the other day, we talked about Durham’s new book, “Woody Durham: A Tar Heel Voice,” which I learned is already in its second printing.
No wonder! Durham’s distinctive voice is probably recognized by more North Carolinians than any other public figure. He earned it for the 40 years he described UNC Chapel Hill football and basketball on the radio.
His new book shares his personal story and what he learned about North Carolina from his intimate connections and friendships.
He tells the stories about himself just as well as he described the Tar Heels in action: his growing up in Mebane, coming to Chapel Hill with his grandfather to see Charlie Justice. Moving to Albemarle, where, as a high school student he got his first job in radio. Meeting his future wife Jean—not at a Carolina football game but at a Wake Forest-sponsored debate camp. Working at UNC-TV and then commercial TV and then to radio and all the inside stories about coaches (Dean, Roy, Butch and all the others) and whether the partnership between big-time sports and higher education can survive.
All this and more. The book will make a great present for any sports fan—and you can watch Woody talk about his book on UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch” today at 5 p.m.
D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs, visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch. A grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council provides crucial support for “North Carolina Bookwatch.”