Before the Mean Green Network
North Texas fans listened to football and men's basketball games for more than 30 years before the Mean Green Radio Network hit the airwaves, thanks to Bill Mercer.
In 1959, Mercer ('66 M.A.) began doing play-by-play for football and men's basketball on KDNT-AM, a Denton station that provided many North Texas radio-television-film students with internships and their first jobs. Mercer joined the RTVF faculty in 1966, and when North Texas' non-commercial station KNTU-FM launched in 1969 with Mercer as founding manager, it also broadcast the games.
Mercer presided over the broadcasts despite a heavy schedule that included doing play-by-play for KLIF/KRLD-AM radio broadcasts of Dallas Cowboys games. He was at the Cowboys' famous "Ice Bowl" against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 31, 1967, in which temperatures in Wisconsin reached 13 degrees below zero. His last game for the Cowboys was Super Bowl VI in 1972, when they defeated the Miami Dolphins. Over the years he also broadcast for the Dallas Texans, the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox.
Mercer says the North Texas games were broadcast on a "network" of stations as early as 1976.
"I began contacting Dallas and Fort Worth stations yearly to have them broadcast North Texas football in particular. [Coach] Hayden Fry was the big draw at the time," he says. "WFAA was the first in 1976, and WBAP came on for a season in the late '80s. There were various other stations through the years. Advertising was paid for by Denton businesses -- I was the sole salesperson."
Mercer's full-time work with the university ended with his last North Texas broadcasts in 1993-94. Today, in addition to teaching at UNT as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Radio, Television and Film, he sits in as a radio announcer for away games of the Round Rock Express minor-league baseball team. He and three other KRLD journalists also recently co-wrote When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963, detailing their coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy and the events in the days that followed.
For his support of North Texas athletics, Mercer was selected to the North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. He was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2002.