MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – “You know when I was 12 I knew I wanted to do this. I wanted to be a sportscaster and I liked live sporting events,” said J.D. Byars, the voice of South Alabama Athletics.
He’s the voice behind some of South Alabama’s signature moments.
“There’s only 130 of these FBS division one voice jobs, so when you get one of these jobs you have to protect and cherish it. Al Michaels joked never to get jaded, and that’s something I take to heart,” said Byars.
Byars’ road to South Alabama saw him make stops all across Alabama as a disc jockey and local sports anchor. A few things have changed since his first broadcast.
“You know when I got into this, there was only a handful of sports that got to be on TV and radio,” said Byars. “Now, there are so many streaming services and video now is on-demand on your cell phone or tablet. I remember the first video I saw on my computer and thought that was unbelievable and that was coming through a copper telephone line.”
Times have certainly changed, but the ability to tell a good story is at the core of what Byers does on a daily basis.
“The new buzzword is to humanize the student athlete. I try to do that not just for South Alabama but for the opponent as well because there are so many great stories to bring to life for the listeners,” said Byars.
Jaguar fans are familiar with Byars’ talent, but he recently received some national notoriety.
“This award has been around since the 1950’s. Some big names have won it, Eli Gold, Rod Bramblett, Jim Fyffe and Chris Stewart, who’s a close friend. When I saw I was a finalist I didn’t think I had a chance to win it,” said Byars.
As it turns out Byars had more than a shot, as the National Sports Media Association recently named Byars the 2019 Alabama Sportscaster of the Year.
“It’s a great personal honor and I think it will bring some attention to what we’re doing here,” said Byars. “I think it reflects on our team, it’s unfortunate there’s just one name on it, because we all pitch in and that’s the good part.”
The voice of the Jags will be formally recognized this summer, but he already has plans to pay it forward.
“There will be guys that win this award down the road, I’ve had mentors and I hope I can mentore the next award winner,” said Byars.