Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Brando devoted to his craft and family
Sportscaster Tim Brando watches as players warm up before the start of an NCAA college basketball game between Virginia and Boston College in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
In this season of bringing the biggest names in broadcast journalism to the Little Rock Touchdown Club, David Bazzel has hit another walk-off grand slam with Monday’s speaker, Tim Brando.
There may not be a major sporting event Brando hasn’t called.
He’s on a first-name basis with almost every head coach in almost every sport.
Brando was one of the two main anchors on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” from 1986 to 1994. and the only reason he isn’t still there was he and his wife of more than 40 years, Terri, missed Shreveport and wanted to raise their two girls where they grew up.
It has been a bit ironic that when Brando started a syndicated radio show and it grew to more than 200 subscribers, no station in his hometown carried it.
Still, Brando is deeply devoted to his city and state.
So he has logged hundreds of thousands of miles flying all over the country to be the play-by-play guy at college football and basketball games, NFL, NBA, the Masters — wherever he was wanted.
And he has been wanted.
The top shelf announcer, though, has a streak of southern that runs deep into his soul. His favorite school is whichever one of his daughters is attending, or perhaps LSU, where he worked at WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge to start his career.
Or any other school he feels needs some love.
Yet, there has never been even the tiniest hint of homerism.
He is the quintessential broadcast journalist, and he’s respected for it coast to coast.
At the Final Four at Atlanta in 2007, the Arkansas Razorbacks were searching for a replacement for basketball coach after Stan Heath’s dismissal.
The coaches’ hotel is THE gathering spot during the Final Four. It is where the NABC holds its annual convention, where hundreds of assistant coaches go to try and have a “bump” with a head coach who might hire them, and it is where some reporters hang out looking for scoops.
One of the biggest names popping up for the Razorbacks’ job was Billy Gillespie, who wasn’t returning calls even to old friends in the media.
On the Sunday night before the championship game, Gillespie was huddling with Kansas’ Bill Self and Brando, just the three of them.
What they were talking about was never revealed, but with 20-20 hindsight it seems obvious now that the merits of coaching at Arkansas or Kentucky were being discussed.
Since Brando knows SEC basketball as well as anyone, it wasn’t a surprise he was in the conversation.
Self, of course, had already established himself at Kansas and was — and is — Gillespie’s best friend.
A few days later, Kentucky announced it was hiring Gillespie.
In 2014 as the Fox network was branching out from the NFL into the world of college athletics, Brando was hired to be the lead play-by-play guy for college football and basketball.
These days, he is a regular at Atlantic Coast Conference games and has hosted Raycom’s Emmy Award-winning “Football Saturdays.”
In the world of media — broadcast, print etc. — Brando may be the most respected guy on TV or radio.
He’s humble, loyal, can tell the truth without malice. If you tell him something off the record, he is taking it to his grave, which someday no doubt will be in Shreveport.
He was born there, raised there and lives there because when he had to make a decision between fame and fortune or raising in children in a comfortable environment, he chose his family.
As it turned out, the move didn’t even slow down his career and he’s become one of the favored announcers by coaches and fans from coast to coast.
Doors open at the DoubleTree Little Rock on Monday at 11 a.m.
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