Georgia’s radio broadcast has had some distinctive voices

November 5, 2013 

It is doubtful that Georgia will ever have another football play-by-play announcer who is as colorful, revered and loved as the late Larry Munson. His descriptions of Georgia games are legendary, and his commentary is still quoted today.

Do you recall “Sugar falling from the sky,” “a hobnail boot,” “My God, he’s just a freshman,” “So we’ll try to kick one a thousand miles” and of course, “Run Lindsay run” just to mention a few?

Munson, who actually came to Georgia from Nashville, Tenn., where he had done Vanderbilt games, was part of the Atlanta Braves’ first play-by-play team with Milo Hamilton (Munson stayed in that position for only two months). Munson got the Georgia job in 1966, taking over from the very popular Ed Thilenius, the man I grew up listening to calling Bulldogs games. Thilenius was the voice of the Bulldogs for a decade from 1955 until 1965 and left the Georgia post to become play-by-play announcer for the expansion Atlanta Falcons.

Thilenius also served as the sports director for WAGA-TV, Channel 5 in Atlanta, and while not the “homer” that Munson was, Thilenius had a distinct style. On extra points and field goals, it was always, “The lines are down, the snap from center, the kick, it’s high enough, it’s long enough, it’s good,” or on the Georgia huddle, “ (Fran) Tarkenton (or whoever the Georgia quarterback was) talks to his two rows of five back at the 20.”

Two of Thilenus’ greatest calls were the touchdown scored by Macon’s Theron Sapp -- known as the drought breaker -- to beat Georgia Tech and snap an eight-game losing streak to the Yelllow Jackets in 1957 and in the 1959 SEC title-clinching win over Auburn.

Thilenius’ time with the Falcons was short-lived, and he attempted to get back on the Georgia broadcast but things didn’t work out. He later worked as the public relations director for the Atlanta Flames.

During his time doing the Georgia football games, he worked with another broadcast legend, Bill Munday. Munday, a native of Cedartown and a Georgia graduate who had been a left-handed pitcher on the school’s baseball team, had an illustrious broadcasting career despite a serious battle with alcoholism. He was the first sports director for NBC and worked the 1929 Rose Bowl game with broadcast Hall-of-Famer Graham McNamee. That was the game that featured California’s Roy Riegels’ wrong-way run that helped Georgia Tech beat the Bears 8-7.

Like Munson, the irreverent Munday was very descriptive. He called the huddle, “the crapshooters formation,” the end zone, “the land of milk and honey” and described Tarkenton “as cold as ice water.” When doing an Alabama-Georgia Tech game while at NBC and after having a few pre-broadcast cocktails, he said “This is Bill Munday from Legion Field in Birmingham, a town of hard drinkers and fast women.”

He was suspended and soon fired after that incident.

When in New England to broadcast a Yale-Harvard game, a Harvard student asked Munday, “Who do you prefer in tomorrow’s game, Yale or Harvard?” Munday’s reply was, “Neither one. You’re all a bunch of damn yankees, and I hope you both lose.”

Rounding out the broadcast team with Thilenius and Munday was Jim Koger, who kept statistics while providing some color. Koger went on to become the sports director at WTVM-TV in Columbus and was the ring-side announcer for Fred Ward wrestling. After leaving the broadcast industry ,he became the general manager for Columbus’ minor league baseball franchise.

With just about every college football game now on television the radio play-by-play announcer doesn’t seem to have the same impact that Munson, Thilenius and Munday did.

Contact Bobby Pope, who hosts the Saturday Scoreboard at 4 p.m. on Fox Sports 1670, at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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