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Ron Scarborough was interviewed by Keith Farner of the Anderson Independent-Mail and the story was published on Wednesday, October 25, 2006.  We are reprinting the story below by permission of the author.


Dean of the Scoreboard

Scarborough a local radio legend

KEITH FARNER Anderson Independent-Mail
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ron Scarborough, photo by Greg BecknerThe voice on the other end of the radio dial can be heard from Greer to Calhoun Falls.

“Hello caller, what’s your name, where are you calling from.”

For any of the thousands of Friday night fans who tune into 103.1 WRIX-FM or 1280 WANS-AM, they know that voice belongs to Ron Scarborough, who is quickly becoming the dean of high school football scoreboard hosts across the state. In his 10th year broadcasting a scoreboard show, Scarborough has settled into job that he first took a liking to about 35 years ago.

After he graduated from Parker High School in Greenville, Scarborough worked for about 15 years in production at Michelin. A back injury forced him out of that job and into his own business selling baseball cards.

“Baseball cards aren’t heavy,” he said.

Scarborough sold cards for about six years before a customer wrote him a check for his store on the spot. That led him to WCCP in 1996 where he sold advertising for three years and assisted Tommy Powell with a scoreboard show.

But in 1999, Scarborough and WCCP had a falling out. Scarborough figures the station wanted him to focus on selling instead of being on the air. Somewhere along the way, he learned how to collect sponsors as if they were sticks of bubble gum. But it wasn’t because he gained extensive training.

“I just barely finished high school, I didn’t know what radio was,” he said.

Selling, Scarborough said, is one of the few jobs where someone can miss nine out of 10 times, and still have a great day. That’s why he’s not an employee of WRIX. He buys airtime from the station for the scoreboard show and his nightly show, The Evening Sports Page, and then sells it to sponsors.

“It just comes natural,” he said. “When you’re going out selling, people really don’t know anything about the show, they’re buying you. It depends on how you present yourself to them.”

Scarborough also admits that he tries to be honest with sponsors to see if they’re getting their money’s worth. That’s why he puts 3,000 miles a month on his car to check with each sponsor, because having them roll over is a lot easier than finding several new sponsors each year. He said about 26 or 27 of his 33 sponsors roll over each year.

“If what I do didn’t work, some of these people wouldn’t be on me five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years,” he said. “After their contract was up they’d say ‘get out of here man, we’re wasting our money.’”

Quote by Ron

Scarborough said WRIX hasn’t changed the airtime price it charges him since 1999, and he could work for the station tomorrow if he wanted to.

“Why work for 25 or 30 percent when you can get a dollar,” he said. “In other words, I wouldn’t feel right going out and selling my high school scoreboard show, and selling my evening show and selling theirs also, because I know naturally I would put more into mine than I would theirs.”

All that selling is for a show that has grown by several hundred calls since Scarborough first went behind the microphone in 1996. The four lines that are reserved for the show each week get flooded with 400 calls from listeners reporting scores, giving “shout outs” to friends, or cheerleaders trying to outdo one another.

At summer scrimmages and jamborees, Scarborough said he hands out 5,000 business cards with numbers to dial the show. He befriends cheerleaders, band members, and coaches’ wives — anyone who is a regular fan at a local stadium who can supply a score or highlights from a

Because of the flood of calls, none of them get screened before they hit the airwaves.

“A lot of call-in shows screen them before they go on the air,”  “Ron wants anybody and everybody to call in even if it’s to give a shout out to their friends on the football team. I think that’s what makes it really unique.”

And no one can remember the last time a line was not tied up.

“I would probably describe it as organized chaos,” said co-host Eddie Moore, who is in his third year working with the show. “Everybody knows what they’re doing, but we’re all grabbing phones and talking to callers and all of a sudden somebody will slip a paper in front of you that a score’s changed.”

The growth has sparked the need for what Scarborough calls “a new wrinkle” he likes to add each year.

On his cell phone, Scarborough said listeners can two-way scores to him so that WRIX  can update its Web site as updates warrant, which offers a catchy motto for the radio.

“We get it on the air before they get it on the scoreboard,” Scarborough said.

Ron said the show site gets about 300 hits on Friday nights and 50-75 more on Saturdays.

Ron Scarborough, photo by Greg BecknerAnother sign of growth for the show is the number of remote locations it has visited this year. To date this season, Scarborough and Moore have been in the studio only twice.

The large crowds typically come from towns such as Pickens, Liberty, and Ware Shoals, Moore said.

“To have the fan base that these schools have is really amazing,” said Ashley Earle, a Clemson student who is in her first year taking calls for the show. “It’s almost like the Clemson atmosphere, the whole town gets behind the team. Even in a down year they’re still there cheering them on and calling us with scores.”

But nothing so far this year has matched the turnout the show got at Calhoun Falls two years ago.

Scarborough said a police officer approached him because of the swelling crowd around the remote.

“Who’s in charge of this,” the police officer said.

“I guess I am,” Scarborough recalled saying. “And he hands me some tape and I said, ‘what is this for.’”

“You’ll need to block off Main Street, when you get through just take the tape down and lay it on the side of the road,” the officer said.

“They were just lined up for about two blocks away trying to get in,” Scarborough said.

It’s that kind of get-behind-the-team mentality in the one-horse stops that leads to the heavy turnout. Cities such as Anderson or Greenville can’t match that because of splintered loyalties.

“I think it’s more than just high school football, I think that’s local radio in general,” said producer Michael “Pork Chop” Branch. “I think that when your station or your show really lets the people know how important they are to what’s going on with your station, that it’s for them, they respond to that. It means a lot to a small community when you show up, because it shows that you care about them.”

Scarborough also boasts that his show can transcend generations.

“What other show can a 6-year old child, a mother, a daddy, and grandparents have in common that they all three can bond together and enjoy,” he said. “If you go to a movie usually it’s for the kids, but this is something all three generations can enjoy.”

Keith Farner can be reached at (864) 260-1236 or by e-mail at farnerkb@IndependentMail.com