Carl Wayne replaces a legend in the Brownwood radio booth
Following a legend is never easy – whether it’s the head coach, the quarterback, or in the situation at Brownwood this year, the hall-of-fame radio voice.
Carl Wayne has felt the anxiety this season as he replaced Dallas Huston, the radio voice of Brownwood Lions football for the previous 58 seasons. To put Huston’s tenure in perspective, he has called Brownwood games on the radio for parts of seven decades and two-plus generations.
Longtime Brownwood-area folks who began listening to Huston at 9 or 10 years old are now almost 70. They feel like they grew up with Huston and have known him for virtually their entire lives.
But the 78-year-old Huston announced in April his retirement from radio because of health reasons. Wayne, the radio analyst alongside Huston for the last 13 years, was the natural choice to follow the legend.
“Dallas’ name is all over this press box and around this stadium,” Wayne said before last week’s Burnet at Brownwood game – his fourth as the new radio play-by-play voice of the Lions on KOXE 101.3-FM. “You’re always going to feel anxiety in a situation like this. You want to do good.”
The door entering the home radio booth in the press box at Gordon Wood Stadium reads:
“The Dallas Huston Room.”
When the Lions leave their locker room, they enter the field via the “Dallas Huston Walk of Champions.”
For the first two home games this season, Huston has sat in a lawn chair with his wife, Linda, under shade trees between the locker rooms and the field. He usually has a radio up to his ear.
“Knowing that Dallas is out there listening now, I obviously feel a little nervous and anxious,” Wayne said. “I want to please him, and I want to make everybody happy.
“With every game we do, we develop our routine and get more comfortable,” Wayne said, referring to his new analyst Scott McDaniel.
Prior to his first game in his new role this season, Wayne received multiple texts and in-person messages from friends and colleagues.
“They said, ‘Just be yourself. Do your own thing,’ ” Wayne said. “That was good advice because nobody can be Dallas Huston, that’s for sure. He is a legend.”
Huston, who understands his place in Brownwood sports history but also has kept a humble nature about that place, already has given Wayne a thumbs-up.
“I worked with Carl for 13 years, and I had absolutely no doubt that he could handle it well,” Huston said. “He’s already doing a good job, and like anybody else, he’ll improve with every game.”
The 60-year-old Wayne is no radio sports novice. In addition to being Huston’s analyst for the previous 13 years, Wayne filled in on the play-by-by a half-dozen times when Huston couldn’t make a game. Wayne also has broadcast Brownwood girls’ sports – basketball, volleyball and softball – for several years.
Growing up in rural West Texas in Hamlin, Wayne learned at an early age what local radio meant to high school sports. He did play-by-play on high school football games for 20 years on radio station KVRP in Haskell before relocating to Brownwood.
“It wasn’t like he was an unknown quantity,” Huston said of Wayne. “People here knew what kind of job he could do.”
Wayne credits Huston with teaching him a lot about broadcasting games over the last 13 years.
“When I did games before coming to Brownwood, I was kind of on my own. They’d just say, ‘Go do this game. Go get ‘em,’ ” Wayne said. “I wanted to get excited during the games, and Dallas said it’s OK to be excited, but you need to control your excitability. Don’t get so excited that the listeners can’t tell what happened.
“Then, of course, there’s the great work ethic. Dallas showed up two hours before the games, and he’s so prepared. He has the rosters, lineups, stats, and he’s visited with both head coaches. He was as prepared as you can be for a game.”
Traveling to Brownwood road games for 13 years, Wayne has also heard a lot of the behind-the-scenes stories from Huston’s storied career – most of them funny.
“I drove a lot of the time, and I’d be laughing so hard at some of the stories Dallas told that I’d have to pull over,” Wayne said. “He told about one night at Burkburnett when he got locked in the bathroom after a game. It was several minutes before they figured out he was missing and where he might be.”
Then there was the 1972 night before the first game at Cen-Tex Stadium – now Gordon Wood Stadium, where the Lions still play home games – when a bulldozer had an accident.
“The dozer was moving dirt just beyond the field, and it hit part of an underground tunnel that went into the field,” Wayne said. “They’re hosting Abilene Cooper the next night, so they had to spend the entire night and next day until about three hours before the game filling in the hole and patching up the field. Dallas said every time a player ran or got tackled in that part of the field, dirt flew up.”
Huston is still part of the broadcast. He records a short segment each week aired during the pregame show. And Wayne still uses Huston’s voiceover for the introduction of each game on Friday nights: “Brownwood Lions football 2021 is on the air.”
“I’d rather I be there to do the games,” Huston said, “but since I can’t, I’m glad Carl is there to do it.”
Mike Lee writes a weekly high school football column for the USA Today Network's Texas newspapers. Contact him at email@example.com.