KSL Radio's Greg Wrubell interviews BYU football head coach Bronco Mendenhall. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO, Utah -- For BYU fans, the memory of the Cougars' dramatic victory over Utah last November remains fresh. The image of that final play, when quarterback John Beck threw across his body to a knee-sliding Jonny Harline in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown, is cemented in their minds forever.
And, for many, so is the sound of that play.
KSL Radio's Greg Wrubell is reminded of that fact on a regular basis. His emotional description can be recalled immediately by legions of Cougar fans: "Caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown!"
Months later, they are still repeating, and reveling in, those words.
"I'm amazed by the number of people who say that to me," says Wrubell, who does the play-by-play for BYU football and basketball. "Then they open their phone and (the Beck-to-Harline call) is their ring tone."
Wrubell isn't the only voice easily recognizable to Cougar fans.
During a period when the Mountain West Conference's convoluted television contract has interfered with the ability of many BYU fans to watch games on TV, Wrubell and others are being heard by an increasing number of fans.
Here are profiles of those broadcasters who bring BYU games to Cougar fans around Utah County, the country, and -- yes -- the world.
This fall, Wrubell embarks on his seventh season as the voice of BYU football. He's been doing Cougar basketball play-by-play for 11 years.
A native of Canada and a BYU graduate, Wrubell joined KSL as an intern in 1989, and by 1992 he was hired as the sideline reporter for football games. He held the job until Paul James retired in 2000. He started as the basketball play-by-play voice in 1996-97, and he began calling football in 2001.
What Wrubell enjoys most about the job is game day. "I love the preparation that goes into bringing the game to listeners," he says. "Once the ball goes up in the air, or is kicked off, it's a fun ride. I love the build-up. You never know what's going to happen."
During football and basketball seasons, Wrubell spends countless hours getting ready for his broadcasts by pouring over statistics, memorizing names and numbers, attending news conferences and practices.
"It's a seven-day-a-week process," he explains. "Every day there's something to be done."
In recent years, KSL Radio has been broadcasting games over the Internet, allowing Cougar fans from around the world to keep in touch with their favorite team.
"We can call for e-mails and get them, literally, from all around the world. It's an awe-inspiring thing," he says. "I'm proud to be involved with a program that inspires that kind of passion."
For example, after the BYU-Tulsa football game last year, e-mails poured into KSL from places like Wisconsin, Boston, Singapore, Chile, Canada, Germany and the Caymon Islands, among others.
Entering his 26th season with KSL Radio as the color analyst for BYU football games, Marc Lyons has helped call nearly 300 Cougar games. The former BYU quarterback replaced Virgil Carter on the field, and, as it turns out, he followed Carter into the booth as well.
Lyons remembers watching KSL-TV one night when James announced that Carter, who had served as his broadcast partner, wouldn't be back the next fall. So Lyons applied for the job.
"They had me come in and Paul made up a play in his head," Lyons recalls. "I just responded to what he said." Apparently he acquitted himself well, because he was hired soon thereafter.
For Lyons, the best part of the job is the games themselves. "To get to go to all those football games in unique places -- for a football junkie to go to games in Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame, it's great. I try to give fans a perspective different from the play-by-play. Greg and I are just trying to put across that we're two guys watching a football game and sharing with listeners what we see."
Lyons says he found himself in an unusual position during BYU's stellar 11-2 season a year ago.
"I try not to be a fan when I'm broadcasting. But I'm more familiar with BYU than the opponent, so that's the spin that we give," Lyons explains. "Last year, I was a fan. I was pulling for them. The close games were harder to take than other years. I was a fan along with being a broadcaster."
As a Cougar basketball player in the 1990s, Mark Durrant was known around media circles as a good quote. A few years after Durrant's playing days were over, Wrubell was looking for a color analyst to join him on BYU basketball broadcasts. "I didn't know him at all at the time," Durrant says. "We went to lunch and it was love at first sight. It was destiny.
Ten years later, they're still together. "We finish each other's sentences, like being married," he adds. "There's a fluidity we've obtained after 10 years."
Broadcasting allows Durrant the chance to stay close to BYU basketball.
"The greatest thing is still feeling part of the program," he says. "That's a lot of fun to be part of things. What keeps me doing it is that Greg and I are good friends. That makes it easy."
Durrant approaches each game with the concept of a conversation between him and his play-by-play partner about what's happening on the court. He doesn't imagine the thousands of fans who may be tuning in.
"I try not to think about it," he says. "I try to think no one is listening. It makes me nervous."
What the general public doesn't understand about the job is "it's a lot harder than you think," Durrant explains. "You have so much time to fill, you don't want to say anything blatantly obvious. I like to point out things like the screens, rebounds and passes. My main goal is to not say anything too stupid for four hours. Sometimes I accomplish that, sometimes I don't."
It's somewhat ironic that Jay Monsen, who retired from BYU in 1998 after 26 years of calling Cougar games on KBYU-TV, is a pioneer of sorts in the relatively new medium of Internet broadcasting.
Monsen, who turns 74 in August, was approached five years ago to call women's basketball games via the Internet through BYU Radio. "I thought, 'I'm too old,"' Monson says.
At the time, Monsen had just finished chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma. After finding out more about the job, he agreed to do it, and he's been broadcasting every women's basketball game, home and away, the past five years. Monson also does some women's volleyball and men's volleyball games.
Not only does he call games on the Internet (byuradio.org or byucougars.com), but the feed is also picked up on a Dish Network audio channel (Ch. 980).
Monsen says his return to broadcasting has rejuvenated him. "Probably the best medicine I got was to do the games and become involved with BYU again."
"I tell people there are three things about this job," he continues. "First, it's great to be back in intercollegiate athletics. Second, radio is more fun than TV because you can be your own boss. And, third, I'm surrounded by beautiful women. Of course, my wife says, 'You're old enough to be their grandfather."'
While Monsen doesn't know how many people tune into his broadcasts, he has received plenty of positive feedback. "Every place we go, I have people approach me and thank me for doing the games," he says.
Brent Norton has called BYU baseball games for the past 18 years. "I've been doing it long enough that I'm starting to see second generation players. It's kind of fun," he says.
Cougar baseball games can be heard on KOVO (AM-960) in Provo, and for Norton, it's quite literally a labor of love.
"I don't make any money," he says. "I have to lease time from the station and I go out and get my own sponsors. I love it, that's why I stay with it."
Norton, who owns the Lube Doc, a lube-and-oil service in Orem, simply enjoys BYU baseball. "The best part is meeting the kids and associating with the coaches," he says.
Norton, who went to high school with BYU coach Vance Law, broadcasts all the conference home and road games, about 30 per season.
Over the years, Norton has had a number of different color commentators, including former coach Gary Pullins; former pitching coach Bob Noel; former player Dick Belliston. He's also had various former BYU players who became Major Leaguers join him in the booth, including Dane Iorg and Rick Aguilera.
Pullins frequently joins Norton on the broadcast team.
"He's full of one-liners. He's got a story for every situation," Norton says. "He's a treat to work with. I enjoy his personality and knowledge of the game. He's always keeping me in stitches."
Broadcasting abroad at BYU
Games can be heard in Spanish, Portuguese
By Jason Adkins
For the Deseret Morning News
PROVO -- It's not uncommon to hear myriad
languages spoken as one walks on the campus
of BYU -- thanks to the many international
students or those who have served foreign-
language LDS missions and are trying to stay
But hearing foreign languages in the press
box during the many athletic events that
take place at BYU hasn't been a usual occurrence.
That has started to change in recent months as
BYU Broadcasting has made a push into the
Spanish-and Portuguese-speaking areas of the
Brett Pyne, BYU associate director of athletic
communications, said that the foreign language
broadcasts just add to BYU's global presence.
"It's helping people in other areas of the
world get more exposed to BYU sports," Pyne said.
Live broadcasts for football and men's
basketball in Spanish and Portuguese are
not permitted by various contracts -- they
can broadcast those sports on a tape-delayed
basis. However, BYU does broadcast baseball,
softball and men's and women's soccer live
in the foreign languages.
The logistics of adding four or more seats
to accommodate broadcasts was tough at first,
Pyne said, but the kinks are being worked out.
"We have more issues to deal with when the
broadcast crew is tripled for games," Pyne said.
Not wanting to eliminate seats for print media,
Pyne said that has sometimes meant the foreign-
language crews may need to move to the concourse
in the Marriott Center and call some of the
action from a monitor.
Despite the increased work needed to plan
the broadcasts for a game, his department
is glad to help out whenever they can, adding
"we work with them to help them meet their goals."
BYU Television sports producer Brandon Despain
is also happy with the new broadcasting arrangement.
"We enjoy working with them (athletics) and also
seeing the growth of BYU sports," Despain said.
There hasn't been much feedback to BYU's efforts,
but Despain said what he has heard has been positive.
The availability of BYU-TV International is
geared towards the Central and South American
market right now, instead of the traditional
way that Spanish-language stations market their
product toward various immigrant markets locally.
That doesn't mean that locals can't tune in as
it is available on Comcast digital cable along
the Wasatch Front or free online through