Wes Durham, who once served as the radio voice of Radford University basketball, is one of the stars of the new ACC Network.
Durham and Mark Packer will be the co-hosts of the new television channel’s “Packer and Durham” talk show, which debuts at 7 a.m. Friday. The program will air weekdays from 7-10 a.m.
“I’m just glad to be a part of [the ACC Network],” Durham said. “It was cool to be asked to be a part of this and for them to hand Pack and I the keys to do the show, which will be fun to do.
“It’s very humbling.”
Durham will also serve as a football and men’s basketball play-by-play announcer for the ESPN-owned ACC Network.
He will work for a different employer on Sundays. He is keeping his job as the radio play-by-play voice of the Atlanta Falcons.
Durham and Packer are already used to working together. They have co-hosted “ACC Central” from 7-10 a.m. on Sirius XM ACC Radio (Ch. 371) since last year. Sirius XM ACC Radio will now simulcast their TV show at that time instead.
“When he gets rolling on some things, I’ll probably be regarded as the straight man. But we have a lot of laughs,” Durham said.
Durham did their old SirusXM show from his home in Georgia, while Packer was at his home in Charlotte.
For the TV show, the two men will be in the same place. The Connecticut-based ACC Network has built a TV set in the basement of Packer’s home. So Durham has moved into an apartment in Charlotte; his wife will go back and forth from there and their house in Georgia.
Durham and Packer will conduct remote interviews with ESPN folks in Bristol, Connecticut, and with ACC coaches on campuses. Virginia Tech carved a “bureau cam” room out of the Cassell Coliseum press room, for example, while UVa has a remote-interview studio at John Paul Jones Arena.
“We have the ability to do a lot of interviews because these campus facilities, whether it’s the one in Blacksburg or Charlottesville or any of these other places, that’s the secret sauce,” Durham said.
Friday’s debut show will include interviews with UVa men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett, UVa men’s lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany and Virginia Tech wrestling coach Tony Robie.
“Packer and Durham” will re-air on the ACC Network from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. weekdays.
Durham used to do TV play-by-play for the ACC’s syndicated cable package of football and basketball games (which will still be seen in this area on NBC Sports Washington). His new partner on ACC Network football games will be former Georgia Tech running back Roddy Jones; they will be among three football announcing teams on the new channel.
Durham also used to do TV basketball play-by-play for Raycom’s syndicated games, which aired in this area on WFXR and WWCW. Because of the launch of the ACC Network, Raycom will no longer be doing football and basketball games.
Durham was hired at Radford after graduating from Elon in 1988. He spent three basketball seasons announcing Radford games. He moved on to Marshall, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech before switching to TV in 2013.
The ACC Network still has no deals with Cox cable, Comcast cable or the Dish Network satellite service.
Herzlich joins ACC Network
The ACC Network analyst for Virginia Tech’s season opener at Boston College will be familiar to fans of both schools.
Former Boston College and New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich will be a color commentator for the new TV channel’s football games, including the Hokies’ Aug. 31 opener.
“Virginia Tech has a real possibility to be vastly improved from last year,” said Herzlich, who was the 2008 ACC defensive player of the year. “They have pieces in place to be really, really great.”
BC was 2-4 against the Hokies during Herzlich’s career, including losses to Tech in the 2007 and 2008 ACC title games.
Herzlich missed the 2009 season after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. The former All-American watched BC’s game at Virginia Tech that year from the sideline. But he returned to the BC lineup in 2010 after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Herzlich will team with play-by-play man Chris Cotter on Saturdays. During the week, Herzlich will be an ACC Network studio analyst.
Virginia has been picked to win the Coastal Division in the ACC’s preseason media poll.
“They’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Herzlich said. “They have a very good secondary, very good defense and they have a quarterback who is dangerous.”
DirecTV customers still without WXFR, WWCW
DirecTV customers have been without WFXR and WWCW since last month because of ongoing contract negotiations between AT&T, which owns DirecTV, and Nexstar, which owns more than 100 stations around the country.
WFXR is a Fox affiliate, so it carries most of the Washington Redskins’ regular-season games. Washington’s opener is Sept. 8 on Fox, so Redskins fans with DirecTV will need a backup plan if the dispute is not resolved by then.
DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package won’t be the answer. Redskins games will still be blacked out on that package because NFL Sunday Ticket is only for out-of-market games.
But DirecTV customers can watch the Redskins games on Foxsportsgo.com or on the Fox Sports Go app. Or they can watch the Redskins on WFXR by using an over-the-air antenna.
Fans could also drop DirecTV and switch to cable TV or Dish Network. Or seek out a pal’s house or a bar with cable or Dish.
According to a statement on the AT&T website, “We had hoped to prevent Nexstar from pulling WFXR-FOX and WWCW-CW from our Roanoke customers’ lineups and we offered Nexstar more money to keep them available. Nexstar simply said no and elected to remove them instead.”
The two sides continue to exchange proposals, according to an email from an AT&T spokesperson.
According to a statement on WFXR’s website, “AT&T … does not see the same value for WFXR and WWCW and the other local Nexstar stations as their paying subscribers see. … We continue to engage with AT&T to bring back WFXR and WWCW and negotiate in good faith, but progress has been slow. … We recommend you switch your video provider.”