Following Two Giants: Woody Durham at North Carolina and Bob Harris at Duke

David Shumate and Jones Angell discuss legacies and NC Basketball

bob harris and woody durham

Quick! Who succeeded Vince Lombardi with the Packers, Scotty Bowman of the Canadiens and Joe McCarthy of the New York Yankees?   If you remember, good for you. But really, how many can recall the names Bengtson, Geoffrion and Dickey. These poor successors, let’s face it, had no chance taking the reins of dominant personalities.

We often discuss the difficulty of replacing a legend, one so revered by fans that anything less than perfection is looked upon as unacceptable. One of the things we’ve often heard is, “I wouldn’t want to be the guy to succeed such and such.”  As a coach or player, the sanctuary away from the naysayers is the locker-room.  As a broadcaster, there really isn’t a safe place to hide.

David Shumate
David Shumate

After the retirements of broadcasters Woody Durham of North Carolina and Bob Harris of Duke, two up and coming announcers on Tobacco Road are the successors, Jones Angell at UNC (2011) and David Shumate at Duke (2017). Collectively Durham and Harris covered their teams for 81 years – delivering Heels’ and Blue Devils’ radio broadcasts to adoring fans. At a time when not all games were available on some form of video, Durham and Harris had a way of making their broadcasts feel very Carolina Blue and Blue Devil Dark Blue. They gave fans in Hoke County or Pender County courtside seats to the Dean Dome and Cameron Indoor Stadium.

jones angell
Jones Angell

Angell and Shumate, now have the challenging responsibility of following two giants. They recognize the impacts they have on the daily pulse of a rivalry that may be superseded only by the Red Sox and Yankees.  I caught up with Angell and Shumate to get a look behind the curtains and get insight on what it’s like to occupy those lofty chairs.

How did you get the gig? Was there something special you said, did or included in your audition?

Jones Angell (UNC)
I was involved with The Tar Heel Network prior to getting the job so that was helpful as they were familiar with me.  I had grown up listening to Woody Durham and Mick Mixon (color) who for several years recently has been the play by play announcer for the Carolina Panthers.  It’s hard to believe I’m now in my 7th year doing play-by-play at UNC.

Shumate (Duke)
There was an application and interview process that had several stages, and two rounds of in-person interviews.  I’d defer to those on the selection committee as to what was ultimately the deciding factor as I’m sure there were several good candidates – I just feel fortunate to have been chosen.

Did you ask your predecessor for any advice before your first season and if so what did he say?

Angell (UNC)
Woody was great.  He basically told me he wasn’t going to look over my shoulder.  I was able to do my own thing.  I did bring him a couple tapes during football season early on and he sat down and gave me some great advice, with long detailed notes, particularly on things you wouldn’t be paying much attention to such as what hash the football is lined up on.  He was really tremendous about his time and that was very valuable to me.

Shumate (Duke)
When I first got on campus Bob was quick to point out that the best thing I could do was be myself, not to emulate someone else and that advice has stuck with me as I’ve gone through the first season.

Vin Scully was hired by the Dodgers in 1950 after Ernie Harwell left Brooklyn for the crosstown Giants. Later Scully said classically, “I sat in his chair. I didn’t follow or succeed Ernie, I just sat in his chair.” When you sat in your predecessor’s chair the first time what went through your mind?

Angell (UNC)
Probably nervous – but I was more nervous when I first joined the broadcast team in 2006 and was “on the floor.”  I was doing pregame and scoreboard updates but remember thinking to myself about ‘being there,’ with Woody Durham and Mick Mixon!  I do remember my first play-by-play broadcast.  It was a football game against James Madison and yes, I remember being nervous prior.  There were lots of things going on around the program with Butch Davis being let go and so forth.

Shumate (Duke)
To Vin’s point, my main thought was there is no replacing Bob – just an opportunity to continue covering the teams with the same work ethic and professionalism he did – while staying true to myself.  Throughout the year, you are obviously caught up on being as prepared as possible and working through logistics of the broadcast, but there is always a quiet moment or two, generally right before kickoff or tipoff, that you can feel the energy and history of the venues and programs, and that’s pretty special.

How have fans reacted to you? Have they criticized you?  How about the first UNC-Duke basketball broadcast? What were your pregame thoughts?

Angell (UNC)
I don’t read the message boards but I’m sure there’s some criticism.  Taking over for arguably the most well-known and respected voice in collegiate sports was something I knew was part of it.  Funny story, around two weeks ago, at Coach Williams’ weekly show, which is done at a restaurant, a gentleman who’s been coming for several years came up to me and said that he was hoping I didn’t get the job when it became available. Yet he added that’d I’d grown on him and that he enjoys the broadcasts.  I never expected to make a connection with the fans in one event or even one year.  This was going to take time, especially after Woody’s run.  As far as my first UNC-Duke game, it was quite memorable but not for Tar Heel fans.  It was the Austin Rivers game when he hit a 3 at the buzzer. But I certainly remember pregame. Everything’s just a little different for Duke-UNC. I was definitely nervous.

Shumate (Duke)
The fans have been great, whether seeing them at games, on the road, or around town it has been more about saying hello and visiting about the team, which is always fun.  The Duke-UNC game is always going to be special – there was a tremendous atmosphere and you just hope the game and the broadcast do it justice.

Your predecessors grew up in a radio era—you grew up in a TV era.  How has it changed your approach?

Angell (UNC)
I think this year some of the changes we’ve made to the network to make us easier to listen to and find, has brought on a whole generation of new listeners.  Look, we’re the Tar Heel Radio Network.  We want the Tar Heels to win but we’re not going to call every 12 footer the greatest 12 footer ever.  I’ve also started to do a Podcast twice a week with Adam Lucas of  It’s a terrific way for us to connect more with fans. I actually get more questions there about the Tar Heels than anywhere else.

Shumate (Duke)
I believe our fans are connected to the success of our programs, coaches, and student athletes and I am here to help tell those stories as best I can, whether it be during our broadcast or in other ways.  If I’m doing my job well, I’m hopeful I can accentuate those moments with a good call or two.

Given the fact that virtually all games today are on some version of video, will you ever be able to establish the kind of identity with the fans than the man you followed? Over his span, many games were available on nothing but radio.

Angell (UNC)
As I mentioned earlier, we are doing things with podcasts and becoming more accessible to our fans than ever before so from that perspective I think it can happen but it will take time.  We’ve made the streaming experience much easier for our fans without having to go through a subscription process, etc., utilizing the TuneIn app.

Shumate (Duke)
Sure, now that the games can be heard on websites, mobile apps, etc. I find many are interested in our perspective of the game and the excitement our broadcasts can bring.

Do you get any fans saying to you, “I watch the games, shut down the audio and listen to you on radio?”

Angell (UNC)
Absolutely, many fans want a Carolina perspective and having Eric Montross, (former UNC and NBA player) on color – only adds to it.  It doesn’t mean we need to jeopardize our professionalism in that every foul that’s called against Carolina isn’t a foul but yes fans want that perspective.

Shumate (Duke)
Sure, now that the games can be heard via websites, mobile apps, etc. I find many are interested in our perspective of the game and the excitement our broadcast can bring.

Where are you from and who were some of your favorite play-by-play announcers?

Angell (UNC)
I was born in Sanford, about 45 minutes south of Chapel Hill but grew up in Jacksonville, NC.  I was pretty young but I have to say that being side by side with Woody Durham and Mick Mixon were definitely the greatest influences on me.

Shumate (Duke)
I was born in Fayetteville, NC, my father served in the Army for 30 years so we moved quite a bit while I was growing up, but my extended family is largely from Southwestern Virginia.  There are so many talented guys in this business from Bob Rondeau (formerly Washington) and Brian Jeffries (Arizona), to David Jackson (Appalacian State) and Joe Fisher (Vanderbilt) and each of their styles is very unique, which is what I love most about our craft – there isn’t a set way to do it.

Not only did you follow a legendary broadcaster but you also call the games of a hall of fame coach.  What would surprise people most about your coach?

Angell (UNC) 
When other recruits from other sports are on campus, he always makes a point to say hi or to help coaches in other sports in any way possible.

Shumate (Duke)
I don’t know if it would surprise people, but Coach K has a great sense of humor, and a quick wit.

Did you listen to recordings of your predecessor to become familiar with his style? If so, what would you pick up and what would you change?

Angell (UNC)
I’m not exactly like Woody, I’m sure there are things that are similar. Having been with him prior, I certainly understood his style.

Shumate (Duke)
I did listen to Bob and the biggest thing I believe we have in common is a sense of excitement and passion for the programs and the games – which comes through when you hear him call each down or play.  He brings you to the games and that is in my view what we all aspire to do.

Dan Mason

Dan Mason has been in sports broadcasting since the 1980s, doing play by play, color and covering the ACC. He previously hosted programming for ESPN Radio in Raleigh. He can be reached at twitter: @mason87dan

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