Georgia Southern play-by-play broadcaster Chris Blair interviewed Tuesday for the job to replace Jim Hawthorne as LSU’s “Voice of the Tigers,” according to a source with knowledge of the search.
Blair joins a list of previously reported semifinalists for the gig: Charles Hanagriff, Patrick Wright, Lyn Rollins, Sean Kelley and Patrick Netherton. Blair is one of three to four national candidates that a source last week declined to reveal to The Advocate.
The school is conducting face-to-face interviews with about six to eight semifinalists this week and hopes to have a decision made by the end of the summer. The committee and university officials are not releasing names of the candidates.
Of the six known candidates, Blair is the outsider. He’s the only one who does not work in Louisiana. He’s served as the voice of Georgia Southern football and men’s basketball for 10 years. Before that, he spent 10 years as the play-by-play announcer for prep powerhouse Greenwood High School in South Carolina.
He’s a self-proclaimed “radio station rat,” according to one 2010 story from the Savannah Morning News. Blair’s father was a longtime radio man. He “grew up inside a radio station,” according to his Georgia Southern bio page. He began working in his father’s Kentucky and South Carolina radio stations at age 14, the bio says.
Blair is 40 or 41 and graduated from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. He got his start in post-college radio with Lander and the Clemson Tiger Sports Network.
He was hired at Georgia Southern in 2006 to replace popular play-by-play man Nate Hirsch.
In the 2010 story from the Savannah Morning News, GSU athletics director Sam Baker said the school picked Blair because he “rose to the top” among a group of a 80 different candidates’ tapes.
“I think Chris Blair gives us as good a play-by-play man as anybody in FCS football right now,” Baker said then.
Hanagriff, who’s been part of the play-by-play team for LSU baseball since 2002, was interviewed Monday. Kelley, the New Orleans Pelicans play-by-play man for the last 10 seasons, was also interviewed Monday.
Netherton has been the play-by-play voice at Northwestern State for 12 years and was the sidekick to Tim Brando on Brando’s satellite radio show, which ended in May. Rollins, a longtime television play-by-play announcer, is a four-time Louisiana Sportscaster of the Year winner.
LSU wants Hawthorne’s successor to be in place for the start of an orientation period Nov. 1, but the new hire could arrive well before that. LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, school spokesman Michael Bonnette, Ward Wyatt, the general manager of LSU Sports Properties, and Gordy Rush, the vice president and marketing manager for Guaranty Broadcasting, form the selection committee
Hawthorne, 71, announced in February that he will be retiring from the job as “Voice of the Tigers” following the 2015-16 basketball season, sparking the search for a full-time announcer that LSU hasn’t undertaken in more than 30 years.
Hawthorne will call the remainder of this baseball season and this year’s football season before calling it quits after basketball.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.