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Voices of the Mean Green by Nancy Kolsti
Fall 2004      

North Texas athletics

other features

How Our Green Got Mean

Voices of the Mean Green

An American Original

Academic vision



As a child, George Dunham ('88) could only watch half of Monday Night Football on television before being sent to bed.

So he snuck a transistor radio into his bedroom to listen to the games after "lights out."

He also regularly listened to broadcasts of Chicago Cubs and White Sox baseball games at Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park, and he dreamed of being a radio commentator himself.

That dream came true in the fall of 1994 when Dunham, co-host of a top-rated sports radio show on KTCK-AM, "The Ticket," in Dallas, become a play-by-play announcer for the Mean Green Radio Network.

  George Dunham and Hank Dickenson

George Dunham ('88), left, and Hank Dickenson

He and color commentator Hank Dickenson, senior associate athletic director for external affairs, call North Texas football and men's basketball games on KWRD-FM in Dallas, KNTU-FM at UNT and KPXI-FM in Longview. Producer/engineer Steve Bartolotta and statistician Chris Wiley round out the broadcast team.

During basketball season, Dunham and Dickenson call home games and away games played in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Dickenson is alone in the booth for other road games.

Both say their work on the Mean Green Radio Network, which they juggle with their full-time jobs, is a labor of love.

"I hope people have as good a time listening to us as we do reporting the games," Dunham says.

Prepping for football


Dunham and Dickenson prepare for work by attending preseason practice sessions in August.

Work on the Mean Green Radio Network for the football season begins in early August when the players report to campus for preseason practice. Dunham, who admits that he starts counting the days until the first football game as early as July, attends practices and other preseason events.

He prepares for games by searching the Internet for information on opponents.

"When a play is run, I want to know who the player is," Dunham says. "I work two to four hours on notes and statistics on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays."

Dickenson prepares a "cheat sheet" for every game — a diagram of the teams' offensive and defensive starting lineups and backups to make it easier to identify individuals. He also contacts UNT's and the opposing team's coaches and staffs to collect facts about the players.

On game day, Dickenson and Dunham arrive at least six hours before kickoff to gather more information and prepare for the pregame show.

"I've learned that you can't prepare too much for a game," Dickenson says, adding that he once had to fill an extra hour of airtime when the start of a men's basketball game was delayed.

However, Dickenson says the best commentators don't sound too scripted.

"The color guy doesn't always have to comment after the play-by-play man," he says. "A good radio broadcast is 70 percent play-by-play and 30 percent color commentary. The worst thing a color guy can do is walk over the play-by-play guy."

Dunham says his main job for play-by-play is "to give a clear picture of what's going on."

"Television can let the pictures tell the story, but, in radio, an exciting moment is the time for the play-by-play man to sound excited," he says.

Since the Mean Green Radio Network started, Dunham has missed only two football games, while Dickenson has missed none.

"People in broadcasting like to keep attendance streaks," Dickenson says.

Winning highlights

Both broadcasters readily list their most memorable football games as fans and commentators. Dickenson cites the Nov. 16, 2002, game against New Mexico State, in which the Mean Green won the Sun Belt Conference championship — and a second New Orleans Bowl bid — before a home crowd.


Dunham and Dickenson work with Steve Bartolotta ('01), left, the broadcast team's
producer and engineer.

Dunham remembers a November game from the year before, a win over Idaho that gave UNT the conference championship and its first trip to the New Orleans Bowl — its first bowl game since 1959.

The team had started the 2001 season 0-5, and with that record, Dunham struggled to make the show he hosts with UNT coach Darrell Dickey entertaining. He told Dickey that he believed the season wasn't a total loss.

"Everyone expected Middle Tennessee to win the conference, and I told him that we would beat Middle Tennessee. And we did," Dunham says.

"When we won the conference, I felt so happy for the team and for coach Dickey."

With UNT predicted to win its fourth consecutive conference championship in 2004 and having won 18 consecutive conference games (tied for the nation's longest conference winning streak), Dunham and Dickenson hope that they'll call their fourth New Orleans Bowl this December.

But even if that doesn't happen, they'll still enjoy the season.

"Many radio networks have bigger budgets, but not one of them has more pride in the team than Mean Green Radio Network," Dunham says. "There's always something to be proud of with North Texas."

Next page: Before the Mean Green Network


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