WGNS Radio Coverage of MTSU Blue Raider Games Predates Middle Tennessee Being a University

Aug 09, 2023 at 12:39 pm by WGNS News

Photo by Scott Walker

MURFREESBORO, TN - WGNS inked a deal with Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday morning to continue airing MTSU Sports for the next five years. This ongoing relationship between the university and WGNS Radio actually predates MTSU being a university.

WGNS President Scott Walker said, “The official 80-year anniversary for WGNS to air their first MTSU Football game will take place on September 19, 2027, which is within the 5-year contract we signed today to continue airing MTSU games.” On September 19, 1947, the Middle Tennessee State College Raiders played Southeast Missouri State in the Houck Stadium, located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. During that Friday night game, the Blue Raiders beat the Missouri Redhawks 12 to 0.” Keep in mind the Redhawks were a good team, winning their conference with an overall record of 8 wins – 0 losses and 1 tie, just one year prior in 1947.

History between WGNS and MTSU is unique, because not a lot of businesses can say they still work with an organization they first worked with 76-years ago. Walker said, "I don't know many businesses who can say a client, a customer, or in our case a university, is a part of their story some 76-years later.”

WGNS’ Station Manager Bryan Barrett, who also wears the hat of the stations’ Sports Director stated, “The Blue Raiders played under the title of the Middle Tennessee State College in 1947 and the first year WGNS aired games for MTSC, the Raiders were led by first year coach (1947-1968) Charles M. Murphy (1913-1999), whom the Murphy Center was later named after.” During Coach Murphy’s first year, the Raiders won the Volunteer State Athletic Conference Title (VSAC). Barrett added, “Over Coach ‘Bubber’ Murphy’s career, he attained a winning record of 155 wins – 63 losses and 8 ties, which made him the longest running tenured and winningest head coach in MTSU football history.” Coach Murphy headed the Blue Raider Football Team for 21-years between 1947 and 1968.

WGNS’ Bart Walker remembers Coach Murphy’s later years in football well, because he was a first-year freshman at the time. Walker said, “I started college at MTSU in 1965 and that was the year that Middle Tennessee State College changed their name to Middle Tennessee State University.” WGNS was a part of the Blue Raiders 18-years before the college became a university. Walker commented, “The relationship between WGNS and MTSU is a rich piece of history that the Good Neighbor Station is proud to be a part of!”

In the mid to late ‘60’s, Walker was not only a college student, but also a WGNS employee. In talking about MTSU Football Walker recalled, “It was an exciting first year at Middle Tennessee, the Blue Raiders won the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Title, with their final in-season win against Tennessee Tech on the Horace Jones Field at MTSU.” During that November 25th game in 1965, the Raiders beat Tech 28 to 21, under the direction of Coach Murphy.

During the 1960’s, the voice of the MTSU Blue Raiders was the late Monte Hale, who was also part owner of WGNS Radio. Walker said, “Hale did play-by-play for MTSU football and basketball games and quickly became known as the Voice of the Blue Raiders.” But back then, things were a lot different. Walker highlighted, “Universities like MTSU didn’t have a budget for sports announcers in the 60’s and Hale was not employed by MTSU to call the games - - he did it for WGNS, which I think makes our history with the University all the more significant.” Working part-time at WGNS in 1965, Walker remembers running the board at the station, while Hale announced play-by-play coverage from MTSU games.

The university's basketball arena, located inside the MTSU Murphy Center, is named after the late Monte Hale, who passed away in 1982. Monte Hale, Jr., who is the son of the late Monte Hale, is still a part of the Good Neighbor Station today and hosts All Sports Talk on weekday afternoons at 5 PM.

Today’s voice of the Blue Raiders is Chip Walters. Like Monte Hale, he too has ties to the Good Neighbor Station. At the beginning of Walters’ career in broadcasting, he called WGNS home. Walters worked at the station as an announcer over 40-years ago. Today, he still has a show on WGNS and can be heard every Wednesday morning from 9 to 10 AM.

WGNS is looking forward to continued coverage of MTSU Football, Men’s and Women’s Basketball and MTSU Baseball!

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