UNC radio voice is Sanford born, Tar Heel bred
If you tune into a North Carolina football or men’s basketball game on the radio this upcoming season, you’ll hear the voice of a Sanford native as the voice of the Tar Heels through your speakers.
Granted, Jones Angell lived in Sanford for only a short time after his birth, but his bio lists it as his birthplace.
“My mom is originally from Sanford,” he said. “She moved in with her mother to get some help while she was pregnant (with me). I was born while she was here.”
Angell, his mother and older sister stayed in Sanford for six months or so until his father came back stateside from a naval base in Okinawa, Japan, and moved the family to Philadelphia for two years. The Angells then moved to Jacksonville, N.C. where he now refers to as his hometown.
Growing up, Angell would watch UNC basketball and football games with his father — also a Tar Heel alum, along with his mother, sister, wife and brother-in-law — with the TV on mute and radio on, listening to Woody Durham’s and Mick Mixon’s calls.
Angell graduated from UNC in 2001 and immediately began work for the Tar Heel Sports Network. He called baseball for eight years while hosting studio shows and doing some color commentary until he was hired as the play-by-play man for men’s basketball and football games in 2011.
“What stood out to us was his preparation, attention to detail, easy listening style and knowledge of the history of Carolina athletics,” UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said at the time. “He understands that he is following in the footsteps of someone our fans love dearly, but I believe strongly that Jones will make his own mark on Tar Heel athletics.”
Angell said that he understood he wouldn’t just win the fans’ love and appreciation right away, particularly in light of replacing Durham.
“(When the transition was made), we kept the rest of our team together – from our sideline reporter to our engineer to our color analyst to our general manager and all our sales people,” he said. “Having said all that, Woody did this for 40 years and is an icon in our state and an icon in our business. You don’t just walk in and on the first game they accept you and say, ‘This is the guy.’ To me, people don’t start thinking of you in that way until you start having some shared experiences with them.
”It didn’t take long for one of those “shared experiences” to come about. A little over a year into his tenure, Angell called one of what he called the greatest moments in Carolina football history. Running back Giovani Bernard returned a punt 73 yards for a game-winning touchdown against North Carolina State Oct. 27, 2012. He said that has been the biggest play that has helped him build “equity with the fan base.”
“That play has done that more than anything else that’s happened so far,” he said. “It is the No. 1 thing that I get asked about. That play is still something that comes up all the time.”
Angell said his job is easier when UNC is winning, something he’s been around for a lot of – in baseball, basketball and football.
“I think that’s one of the great things about Carolina,” he said. “We cover a team that people care about and we cover a team that wins. You’re not sitting there talking to yourself, which is nice.”
Being a Carolina alumnus and from a family full of Tar Heels, he said what he gets to do is pretty much a dream job.
“It really is an exciting thing for me, in particularly because I get to put together what I want to do at a place that I love to do it, and not many people get to do that,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. I fooled them into paying me for it.”
Angell will be back on the microphone for a fourth football season this fall. He said he expects UNC basketball to return to its old form after a “weird couple years.”
“I think we’re going to have a good year this year,” he said. “The past two seasons, while they have not been poor years, I think they’re years that, for Carolina standards, have not been where they’re used to going. If this is a quiet summer and everybody’s healthy and they have the roster that they’re anticipating having, I do think Carolina can be really good.”
And as far as replacing Durham goes, the transition is still happening.
“You’ve got to be there with some great wins and some tough losses and they’ve got to start identifying you with some soundtracks of some memories for them,” he said. “I’ve done it three years, but I do think people are starting to be familiar with me and comfortable with me. That process is still ongoing, but I still think we’ve taken some positive steps.”