Bladen County football fans will once again be able to hear Friday night action for the Eagles and Knights this season on WODR “Cool 105.3” on the FM dial.
The broadcast team of Robert Hester and Ricky Leinwand — along with on-field contributors Dan Allen, Joe Melvin and Ron Daniel — will cover all of the homes games at East Bladen and West Bladen, as well as a couple games on the road along the way.
But “The Team” nearly got a major shakeup when Hester stuck to last season’s decision to step out from behind the mic.
“I thought it might be my last year last season, but they asked me to come back,” Hester said. “It’s fun, but …”
Leinwand said they all but had to twist Hester’s arm.
“We really had to talk him into coming back,” Leinwand said. “But he’s like the glue to our team and he’s got a lot of experience with it.”
Hester said he’s been doing the radio work for 40-plus years in Bladen County. back in the beginning, Hester said they would tape the game on Friday nights and replay it on Saturdays.
“Oh my, that was a long time ago,” he said.
Hester said that, over the years, there have been a lot of players and teams that stood out. But he specifically recalls with fondness the 1973 East Bladen team that came back from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter against a tough Ragsdale team in the state championship. The two teams tied and shared the eastern title.
“That was quite a game, especially under those circumstances,” Hester said. “But there are a lot of wonderful memories with East Bladen, West Bladen and before the consolidation.”
Hester said, despite almost stepping away, he’s thrilled to be coming back to the booth.
“I always look forward to the season,” he said.
Also returning to “The Team” will be Allen, who left for a season last year to watch his son play football at Harrells Christian Academy.
“He’s our technical guy and we’re ecstatic to have him back,” Leinwand said. “He brings a lot of knowledge.
“We’re all just happy to have ‘The Team’ back,” he added.
Broadcasts will begin with the pre-game show at 7 p.m. every Friday.