Love of the sport, community keep Wolverine broadcasters weaving weekly audio tales
Four kids and a business to run – Wayne Auman has no shortage of things he could be doing on Friday nights.
Yet for much of the past decade, he has spent his late summer and autumn Fridays serving as the broadcast play-by-play voice of the Polk County Wolverines. For, he says, a simple reason.
“High school football is just magical,” Auman said. “It’s football in its purest form. These kids play for the love of the game.
“Most of these kids, after the last game of their last year, that’s it. They’re playing for the sheer joy of it, for the sheer competition.”
That love of the sport is also shared by Auman’s broadcast partner, Ray Henderson. Together, the duo have brought the on-field actions of the Wolverines to listeners for the past five seasons via both AM radio and the Internet. With longtime radio home WJFJ-AM in Columbus recently going dark, Auman and Henderson are now found exclusively on Internet broadcaster Teamline. Fans can listen to the Wolverines’ state 2A playoff action here.
Unable to attend a Polk game? Log on and tune in to a Wolverine Webcast. There, you’ll hear a duo focused on delivering, every Friday night, a broadcast tailored to the Polk County faithful.
“People want to hear how the home team is doing,” Auman said. “We’re broadcasting for them. We’re homers, too, like anybody else.”
“But we’ll give the other team respect. Wayne taught me that,” Henderson said.
While Auman focuses on color commentary, Henderson handles play-by-play chores as well as knowledge gleaned from hours of research for each game. A glance at the team’s broadcast area before a game reveals sheets of statistics and notes that both will refer to during the few hours they’re on the air.
Their style is both information and entertainment. On a broadcast earlier this season of Polk’s 35-7 win at Avery, the two intermingled game action with talk of their trip to Avery (they got lost), the stadium and press box food (they liked it) and the officiating (they did not like it nearly as much as the food).
The partnership began almost by chance with Henderson, in the Polk County press box one night as part of the Landrum broadcast team, noticing Auman in the corner, broadcasting for WJFJ via telephone.
“WJFJ was looking for a dedicated broadcaster for football. I didn’t have any previous experience, but I was a football player and a football fan all my life,” Auman said. “I broadcast by myself the first two seasons. Ray popped in one night, introduced himself and asked if I would mind if he sat in on a few broadcasts.
“We decided to be a team the following year. It’s been a great experience. Ray is the consummate professional. He does extensive research, far more than I do or have time to do.”
Research isn’t all that consumes Henderson’s time. He has expanded efforts into other Polk County sports in recent seasons, with plans this year to air selected basketball, baseball and softball games with help from Britt and Dale Wilkerson of UpState Prep-Cast.
“I had people walking up to say, “Why don’t you do basketball?” (WJFJ owner John Owen) said OK,” Henderson said. “That’s one of the big things. John Owen never told us no.”
“Ray has made a supreme sacrifice of travel, money and time,” Auman said. “He does an extraordinary job.”
Henderson is equally as complimentary of Auman’s talents, and either listening to the two on the air or meeting them after a broadcast reveals a partnership that works well. With the Internet offering an outlet for their efforts, both hope to continue to serve Polk County fans for some time.
“I don’t have kids, so this is how I do my bit to give back,” Henderson said.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story had Auman and Henderson’s broadcast roles reversed.