Posted: 4:23 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013
By Joel Hollingsworth
One of the things I missed the most about the Vols when I moved from Knoxville to the Tri Cities was, well, most everything that can be attributed to proximity. The closer you are to Knoxville, the more "more" everything is: Restaurants and other businesses all over town are decked out in orange and white, folks are dressed in Saturday colors all week, and conversations about the Vols fill the airwaves from sun up to sun down every day of the week, particularly on gameday Saturdays. There is some smattering of that up here -- it is still Big Orange Country, after all -- but the concentration is not the same.
When living in Knoxville, I absolutely loved the all-day gameday programming on the Vol Network. I turned it on in the kitchen while making breakfast. I had it on in the car while getting some chores and errands out of the way. I listened intently over the other noise so that I could hear it in the background at most of the stores I visited. I didn't just listen on the way to the game. I listened all day long.
I went to great effort to recapture some of that when I moved here. I immediately found the live stream online, but that only got me through breakfast and too often ended up with eggs on the laptop. So I went out and got one of those wireless headsets that would broadcast radio stations to a distance of about 100 feet, and if I planned the mowing just right, that got me another couple of hours while on the tractor Saturday mornings. When I got desperate, I set up an elaborate system that would capture and record the online stream in the background during the week so that I could then download it to my iPod and take with me in the car for errands.
It wasn't really just the information I was after, it was the sounds. John Wilkerson's voice will forever evoke a sense of nostalgia and longing for Knoxville in me. I even enjoy the regular commercials (Brown Squirrel Gameday All Day!). Hearing Gus Manning and Haywood Harris (rest his Big Orange soul) was like listening to my grandpa talk on his front porch as the pickups drove by.
I loved listening to the guy with the severe speech impediment (sorry, I forget his name) who used to call in and show the rest of us what it means to be a passionate fan, that guy named Mike who everybody hated with equal passion (and who eventually got banned as a caller and then got his own show?), and even the sound of that casual fan calling up and asking a question that had already been answered fifty times in just the previous segment.
These are the sounds on the airwaves of Gameday in Knoxville, and to me, they sound like home, sweet home.