Tar Heel Sports Network
|Availability||AM/FM through local affiliates|
|Area||North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia|
|Owner||Learfield Communications, Inc.|
|Affiliates||WCHL-AM and others|
The Tar Heel Sports Network is a radio network in the United States dedicated to broadcasting live events and programming relating to North Carolina Tar Heels athletics. It is operated by Tar Heel Sports Properties, a property of Learfield Communications, Inc., which manages the multimedia rights for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Network's flagship station is WCHL-AM of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The network began in the early 1960s when WSOC in Charlotte made the first attempt to create a radio network for Tar Heel men's basketball outside the Triangle. In 1965, WSOC owner Cox Broadcasting sold the network to WCHL's owner, Village Broadcasting, which gradually evolved into VilCom. Learfield bought the network from VilCom in the late 1990s.
The Network consists mainly of local radio affiliates within North Carolina, southern Virginia, and northern South Carolina. Some stations with local interest carry only football or basketball programming. For example, WAMW-FM of Washington, Indiana, the hometown of Tyler Zeller, aired men's basketball from 2009 to 2012.
The Network's lead commentator for football and men's basketball games was Woody Durham until his retirement in 2011. Jones Angell succeeded Durham as "the Voice of the Tar Heels" for both football and basketball beginning with the 2011 football season. Coaches Larry Fedora (football), Mike Fox (baseball), Sylvia Hatchell (women's basketball), and Roy Williams (men's basketball) host programs on the Network during their respective team's season.
The state's most powerful station, WBT in Charlotte, has been an affiliate of the network since 1971, except for 1991 to 1995 and 2006 to 2012. WBT is a 50,000-watt clear-channel station that reaches parts of 22 states, bringing the Tar Heels' broadcasts to most of the eastern half of North America. According to longtime WBT station manager Cullie Tarleton, putting the Tar Heels on WBT was largely the idea of longtime coach Dean Smith, who wanted to tell recruits from New England that their parents would be able to listen to the games. From 2006 to 2012, WFNZ served as the network's Charlotte outlet, but its weak nighttime signal forced the Tar Heels to contract first with WRFX (2006-2011) and WNOW-FM (2011-2012) to air basketball games as well as football games that kicked off after 5 pm. The Tar Heels returned to WBT beginning with the 2012 football season.
- Washburn, Mark (2006-06-21). "Tar Heels could air on WFNZ". The Charlotte Observer.
- Tar Heel Sports Properties at learfieldsports.com.
- Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates at learfieldsports.com.
- Tar Heel Sports Network affiliates at tarheelblue.com.
- "The Station" at 1360wchl.com.