The Catamount Sports Network (CSN) is the audio and video broadcast service for Western Carolina University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Three of Western Carolina's men's sports - football, basketball, and baseball - and one women's sport - basketball - are currently broadcast on the radio on a full-time schedule through the year, with a select number of Catamount softball games also broadcast online.
Beginning in 2014, the Southern Conference Digital Network (SDN) began operations with the Catamount Sports Network providing audio / video coverage of Western Carolina home events. The online broadcasts are free-of-charge and available at SoConDigitalNetwork.com.
Six radio station affiliates across North Carolina and streaming audio online at CatamountSports.com are set to carry football broadcasts of the Catamount Sports Network (CSN) during Western Carolina's 2015 season. Three will of those will remain on-board for Catamount men's basketball season with women's hoops primarily broadcast on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5, with select games to be broadcast by 540 AM, WRGC.
For the 2015 football season, the Catamounts have a strong presence on the air across the mountains of Western North Carolina including ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM out of Asheville/Canton; 540 AM WRGC in Sylva; 1050 AM WFSC in Franklin; and WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5, which originates on-campus in Cullowhee. The network continues its presence into the Charlotte Metro area with 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont, serving Gaston County including Gastonia and into Charlotte.
Check below for a complete listing of the Catamount Sports Network's affiliate stations.
CSN has also again partnered with Stretch Internet (www.stretchinternet.com) to provide unlimited free streaming audio through the athletics web site, CatamountSports.com, giving WCU a worldwide reach.
In 2005-06, CSN in conjunction with WWCU-FM expanded its coverage to include the 2005 Southern Conference women's soccer championship and trip to the NCAA Women's College Cup Championship, as well as several games of the inaugural Catamount softball season. That partnership was continued with coverage of the 2006 and '07 SoCon Softball tournament, and again with the 2008 call of the women's soccer SoCon title match.
WCU welcomes back the six affiliates which comprised the network in 2014-15, led by WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5, on-campus in Cullowhee. The station, which moved its tower into Haywood County near Balsam Gap to Cutoff Mountain in 2005, again serves as the network's flagship station and houses the network coupler and Internet up-link. WWCU-FM is slated to carry football and both men's and women's basketball. A broadcast service of Western Carolina University, WWCU-FM also has an Internet signal for broadcasts online at www.WWCUFM.com.
Also returning are stations in the mountain region that stretches from Franklin to Buncombe County. Leading the way is Franklin's First Voice, 1050 AM WFSC. The affiliate carried one game in 2011 before sister station - Western North Carolina Country 96.7 FM WNCC - broadcast the Catamounts. A member of the Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Group, WFSC celebrated its 55th year on the air in May of 2012 by increasing its broadcast strength to 5,000 watts.
A staple of Catamount coverage, 540 AM WRGC returned to the airwaves at its new strength of 5,000 watts in April of 2012. Billed as "the Best Music Mix for Fraser Fir Country," WRGC plays a variety mix of music with both national and local news and remains a big part of the Jackson County community. WRGC, which picked up a few Catamount baseball games in 2013, will also carry Catamount men's basketball this winter.
WCU's broadcasts return to the airwaves in the Charlotte metropolitan area as the Catamount Sports Network is proud to again have 1270 AM WCGC in Belmont / Gaston County carrying the banner in the Queen City region.
WCU football as well as men's basketball can be heard across Western North Carolina on ESPN Radio 1310 & 970 AM to round out the network. Also, throughout the season, Catamount head coach Mark Speir will be featured on the "Cat Chat" segment every Tuesday with the WISE Guys, WNC's only daily sports talk show. ESPN Radio 1310 AM is based out of Asheville and simulcasts on WYSE 970 AM in Canton, N.C., expanding the Catamount Sports Network's footprint across Western North Carolina. The deal adds an over-the-air presence for CSN in Buncombe County, the largest concentration of WCU alumni in the state.
Catamount Sports Network Personalities:
Longtime play-by-play voice of the Catamounts, Gary Ayers, returns to the microphone this football season, and will be flanked by returning crew members producer Jeff Bryson in the broadcast booth and Greg McLamb patrolling the sidelines during football season. Western Carolina Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, Daniel Hooker, and Director of Football Operations, Dan Gibson, will share time in the booth during football season on color commentary. Hooker will also join Ayers on men's basketball broadcasts, as well as handle baseball play-by-play.
Another Western Carolina graduate, Kyle Rush, is slated to return to the mic for women's basketball and softball broadcasts, while also aiding in coverage of both women's soccer and volleyball on the SoCon Digital Network. WCU Athletics Director of Video Operations, Will Adams, will also assists in home coverage of women's soccer matches this fall.
Ayers has been behind microphone for 29 of the past 30 years at WCU, and has been a familiar voice to the region's sports fans for over three decades. In addition to serving as the "Voice of the Catamounts," the Swain County native has done play-by-play for Pisgah, Tuscola, Franklin, Cherokee and Swain high school football and basketball. Ayers, who is the President of Allison Outdoor Advertising in Sylva, also spent several seasons as the public address announcer for WCU Athletics.
Bryson serves as the program's producer, as well as the in-booth host of the pregame, halftime and post-game shows. His radio experience dates back 30 years. During that time, he has worked at a variety of stations including WZZU-FM in Raleigh; WCHL-AM in Chapel Hill; WKSF-FM in Asheville; and served as the program director at WRGC-AM in Sylva. Bryson is no stranger to the Catamount Sports Network as he worked with CSN providing color analysis for football and men's basketball for the 1995 and '96 seasons. Additionally, he has provided various play-by-play football and basketball broadcasts for Smoky Mountain, Franklin, Cherokee and Pisgah high schools. Bryson, too, serves as a Public Address voice for WCU athletics.
McLamb - a 2000 graduate of WCU - will roam and report from the sidelines for an eighth-straight season after joining the CSN crew on-the-air in 2007. His radio experience also includes stints on the weekly sports talk shows, "Sports Talk Live" and "In the Litterbox," both produced on WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5. McLamb is also the Haywood Early College Liaison through Haywood Community College in Clyde, N.C.
Another voice that is scheduled to be heard on CSN this fall include current Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, Daniel Hooker. Hooker, who is the primary contact for Catamount football and baseball, will also assist in the production of the pregame show and provide color commentary during WCU football road games. The 2001 graduate of WCU also assists with men's basketball broadcasts, as well as handles play-by-play duties for Catamount baseball.
Hooker's radio experience began in 1997 as a student announcer at WWCU-FM in Cullowhee. He served as an on-air personality for daily shifts, as well as helped start an interactive sports talk show, "Sports Talk LIVE," which covered Western Carolina sports. His experience also includes broadcasting Catamount women's basketball during the 2001 season with the aforementioned Crumpler, a season as the play-by-play announcer for the Coastal Plain League-member Thomasville Hi-Toms Baseball team in Thomasville, N.C., and two seasons as the color analyst for the Charleston (SC) Swamp Foxes Arena Football team (af2). He also spent one season on the sidelines during the Catamount Sports Network's coverage of Catamount football in 2001.
Gibson, who earned has two degrees from WCU, has been a staple around Catamount athletics, working within the department, the Catamount Club and on the football staff since 2004. He is in his first season working with the Catamount Sports Network broadcast crew.
Kyle Rush, another WCU graduate, got his broadcasting start with TV-62, an on-campus, student-run organization that streamed Catamount home athletic events. Rush joined the Catamount Sports Network on the call of women's basketball in the 2013-14 season, while also aiding in streaming of home WCU volleyball and softball broadcasts.
CSN broadcasts using the Tie-Line i-Mix G3 unit, with network breaks during football and basketball transmitted on-site. Also in use are a six-channel Shure M367 Mixer and a Shure PGX2/SM58 Handheld Transmitter and PGX4 Diversity Receiver. Fans can also get involved with the broadcast by commenting on the game again through E-mail at CatamountSports@hotmail.com.
2015 Catamount Sports Network Football Affiliates:
WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 - Cullowhee, N.C. (Football, Men's & Women's Basketball)
540 AM WRGC - Sylva, N.C. (Football, Men's Basketball)
970 AM WYSE - Canton, N.C. (Football, Men's Basketball)
1050 AM WFSC - Franklin, N.C. (Football)
1270 AM WCGC - Belmont, N.C. / Gaston County (Football)
1310 AM WISE - Asheville, N.C. (Football, Men's Basketball)
Online at www.CatamountSports.com
2014-15 Catamount Sports Network Affiliate Bios:
WWCU-FM, Power 90dot5 in Cullowhee will again serve as the flagship station of the network, housing the network coupler and Internet up-link from which the broadcast will be disseminated. A broadcast service of Western Carolina University, WWCU is a classic hits station with many specialty shows and is the only FM station in the Catamount Sports Network. The station has carried a variety of Catamount athletic events on its airwaves over the past three seasons. In addition to broadcasting CSN's coverage of football, men's and women's basketball, WWCU has also carried Catamount soccer from the Southern Conference and NCAA Championships, as well as Catamount baseball and softball broadcasts.
A staple of Catamount coverage over the years, 540 AM WRGC, is the local source for news, weather and information of interest to the local community. WRGC returned to the airwaves at its new strength of 5,000 watts in April, 2012. Billed as "the Best Music Mix for Fraser Fir Country," WRGC plays a variety mix of music with both national and local news and remains a big part of the Jackson County community and a staple of Catamount coverage.
1050 AM WFSC is the heritage community radio station in Franklin/Macon County, N.C. With a full-service format that focuses on local news, sports, weather and community events, WFSC has a unique relationship with its community dating back to 1957 when WFSC signed on the air as the first radio station in Macon County and the first broadcast voice in far western North Carolina. Broadcasting 24 hours daily, seven days per week, "Franklin's First Voice" - 1050 WFSC's format consists of heavy local news and information focused on the residents of Macon County. A member of the Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Group, WFSC celebrated its 55th year on the air in May of 2012 by increasing its broadcast strength to 5,000 watts.
Belmont, N.C. / Gaston County
1270 AM WCGC has served Gaston County since the 1950s, broadcasting at a strength of 10,000 watts at 1270 on the AM dial. The call letters - WCGC - stand for We've Covered Gaston County! The family-oriented Christian radio station is on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Asheville, N.C. / Canton, N.C.
ESPN Radio 1310 and 970 AM is based out of Asheville and simulcasts on WYSE 970 AM in Canton, N.C. The two stations are members of the five-station Asheville Radio Group which also includes Mix 96.5 FM WOXL; 98.1 FM the RIVER and 105.9 The Mountain. 1310 and 970 carries ESPN Radio programming while producing its own local afternoon show, the WISE Guys.