Pope: Mercer finds its voice in Cameron

sports@macon.comSeptember 9, 2013 

Rick Cameron bleeds orange and black.

As the voice of the Mercer basketball and baseball teams for the past eight years, he took on the duties of the Bears’ football broadcasts this fall with the revival of the program. That was not a major adjustment for him. The 61-year-old Cameron cut his teeth in broadcasting by calling high school football games for Clarke Central in Athens, starting in the 1975 season. He was behind the microphone when the Gladiators won Billy Henderson’s first state championship in 1977, beating the Buck Belue-led Valdosta Wildcats 16-14.

At the time, Cameron was a student at Georgia and worked at WNGC-FM, playing country music from 2-8 p.m. each day in addition to his play-by-play duties. I might add that “Orange and Black” and “Red and Black” can get mixed up with Cameron when you talk about UGA because he is a diehard Bulldogs football fan.

In his time calling athletics events at Mercer, he has had some broadcasting firsts at the school, including the season-opening football game Aug. 31 against Reinhardt. In my research, I can’t find a record of any games being on radio during their first 50 years of Mercer football between 1892 and 1941. He also broadcast the Bears’ first NCAA Division I postseason baseball appearance in 2010 against Georgia Tech in Atlanta and he called the first postseason championship title win against Utah State in the 2012 CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

He said he has had many big thrills calling Mercer events to date and wouldn’t single out one game over another, but he did include for consideration -- in addition to the football team’s win over Reinhardt -- basketball wins at Alabama (twice), Auburn, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Southern Cal, as well as the game in 2009 in which James Florence became Mercer’s all-time scoring leader in men’s basketball. For non-Mercer broadcasting events, Cameron cited the Clarke Central state championship game and a state title game he did in Alabama between Russellville and Blount County in 1994 as signature moments, as well.

Cameron received a journalism degree from Georgia in 1977 and returned to his hometown of Lafayette, where he served as news director at WLFA-AM for five years. In addition to his news duties, he did play-by-play of local high school sporting events. He left the radio business in 1982 to become editor and publisher of the Walker County Messenger in Lafayette, where he stayed until 1990. Then it was on to the Franklin County Times in Russellville, Ala. While in that position, he also got the opportunity to do some play-by-play, which included that state championship game in 1994.

In 1996, he returned to Georgia as editor of the News Observer in Blue Ridge, where he worked for a year before taking his current position at Mercer -- assistant vice president for marketing and communications -- in 1997.

Cameron will face some logistical challenges near the end of the football season when the basketball season gets underway. He will broadcast the Bears’ Nov. 8 basketball season opener at Texas and then be back in Macon by noon the next day for the football game with Jacksonville. One week later, the football team is at Marist in a 1 p.m. game, with the men’s basketball playing at 3 p.m. at home against Seton Hall. That situation is still to be worked out.

On Nov. 23, Cameron will have another tight schedule, but the games will only be 200 yards apart. He will call the Yale-Mercer homecoming basketball game at noon and the homecoming football game at 4 p.m. against Stetson.

Those games are still approximately two months away, and there will be quite a few broadcasts before then. After an off week following the thrilling 40-37 season-opening win, Mercer returns to action this Saturday for a 6 p.m. home matchup with Warner, a school located in Lake Wales, Fla. Cameron will be back in the broadcast booth for that game along with former NFL defensive back Roger Jackson, who played five years with the Denver Broncos, as his color commentator.

If you listen to his broadcasts, it’s apparent where his true passion lies.

Listen to Bobby Pope on the “Saturday Scoreboard” at 5 p.m. this Saturday on Fox Sports 1670. Contact him at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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