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Statewide basketball radio program originates from Marshall's WMUL studios
The Fast Break Sports Network's Basketball Friday Night in West Virginia runs from 9 p.m. to midnight every Friday night during the high school basketball season. Hosts Ryan Epling, Ric Morrone, James Collier, Rudi Raynes and guests provide fans with continual score updates, interviews and analysis of the evening's games along with a review of games played earlier in the week.
"The FM 88 sports staff was approached with the idea of helping create a program for high school basketball and making it available to radio stations throughout West Virginia earlier this year," said Dr. Chuck Bailey, faculty manager of WMUL-FM and a full-time Radio-Television Production and Management professor. "Everyone at WMUL-FM is excited to be part of it."
Epling is the main host of the show, which runs weekly through March 21. He is a graduate of Marshall and has been the voice of the Wayne High School Pioneers since he was 16. He has media contacts throughout the state who participate in the program. Epling works for WSAZ-3 and also works with WFGH-FM, where he serves as the voice of Wayne High School sports.
Morrone is in his 21st year as head coach of the Tolsia Lady Rebels' basketball team. A graduate of Marshall, Morrone is employed by the Wayne County Board of Education as both a coach and educator. He has a large network of coaches and players throughout West Virginia who actively participate in the program. He has 15 years of radio experience with WFGH Sports.
Collier is sports director for WMUL-FM. He provides play-by-play and color commentary for eight Marshall sports. Collier has been a coach, referee and sports broadcaster. He may be heard calling games for WMUL, RSN Sports, WFGH and other commercial stations throughout West Virginia.
Raynes is a former West Virginia all-state basketball player and coach at Poca High School. She earned a degree in broadcast journalism at Concord University and went on to become an award-winning news anchor for WCHS-TV. She is a regular RSN Sports contributor and is an instructor for Be Better Today basketball, where she gives lessons to kids of all ages and skill levels.
Participants agree that a statewide basketball program is long overdue.
"I've coached basketball for 24 years," Morrone said, "and until now there has not been a place where high school basketball enthusiasts could come together. It is good to do a program that encompasses the whole state. Everyone is dedicated to making this a success and Ryan does a great job as the main host."
Epling said the program is caller-driven and "has filled a void in our state."
"This program celebrates high school sports with folks who have the same interests in the games as we do," he said.
Affiliates carrying Basketball Friday Night in West Virginia include:
- WQAZ-LPFM 101.5 in Beckley;
- WYAP-LPFM 101.7 in Clay;
- WQAZ-LPFM 98.5 in Edmond;
- WFGH-FM 90.7 in Fort Gay;
- WMUL-FM 88.1 in Huntington;
- WVOW-AM 1290 in Logan;
- WVOW-FM 101.9 in Logan;
- WVKM-FM 106.7 in Matewan;
"WFGH in Fort Gay supplies most of the equipment for the networking of the stations, it provides the laptops, and the station management there provides the affiliate contacts," Bailey said. "This is not just WMUL-FM's program alone."
"We are excited the partnership between Marshall University's WMUL and Wayne County's WFGH has created such a popular broadcasting program for the entire state," said Lynn Hurt, superintendent of Wayne County Schools. "Wayne County is very proud to help provide a platform where all the school systems of West Virginia can collaborate, connect with the public, and include involvement of students in both our high schools and colleges."
Janet Dooley, associate dean with Marshall's College of Arts and Media, and director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, said she has had the privilege of watching WMUL grow over several decades, but this latest innovation with Basketball Friday Night in West Virginia is one she "hadn't anticipated."
"Taking the station's original programming to other broadcasters expands WMUL's reach and serves additional communities," she said. "It's an exciting development."
Visit the program online at www.basketballnight.com to watch, listen or get information about becoming a broadcast affiliate.