Wayne-O wakes up to award

From The Chronicle, November 24, 1999

WILLIMANTIC -- Wayne Norman, sports director at WILI-AM (1400) in Willimantic, was the winner of the "best sports story" award from the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcasters Association Friday night in Hartford. Norman's winning entry was a 6-minute highlight/interview collage which ran on the WTIC/UConn Radio Network's pre-game show prior to the NCAA national championship men's basketball game between UConn and Duke on March 29 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Norman, the color analyst for UConn men's basketball and football broadcasts, works alongside play-by-play man Joe D'Ambrosio and has broadcast both programs statewide since 1981. WTIC-AM is the flagship station for the broadcasts, which are also heard on WILI-AM.

The package featured a look back at UConn's NCAA semifinal win over Ohio State including narration, commentary, D'Ambrosio's exciting play-by-play calls and interviews with players and coaches. It crisply detailed the critical win which sent the Huskies into the title game. These features are a regular part of every pre-game show on the WTIC/UConn Radio Network in a segment called "Huskies' Review."

Ironically, the entry was produced in rather primitive fashion. While the "Review" segment is normally produced on a digital editor at WILI's studio, the award-winning edition was produced in a Tampa hotel room using two cassette recorders, a microphone, a patch cord and a pause button.

The AP judges described Norman's winning entry as "a very exciting piece, with great use of sound and great interviews," and they liked the highlights. They also said it was "original, especially considering that the reporter had to get it together very quickly." An independent, out-of-state panel did judging.

For his efforts, Norman received a plaque adorned with an offset gold ceramic microphone.

Speaking about the winning entry, Norman said "I knew it was good after I finished it. Everything flowed together perfectly. In fact, when I heard the final product for the first time, I started jumping around the hotel room, knowing it would be a terrific way for us to begin our broadcast of the championship game."

Norman also submitted a similar piece in the "best use of sound" category, recapping the UConn football team's dramatic 1998 win at UMass, the Huskies' second win of the season over the Minutemen which gave them their first-ever trip to the NCAA Division I-AA tournament.

The AP judges gave this entry "honorable mention," saying "the report showed a lot of hard work and was a very good story." The collage featured game highlights and interviews and continued through the following day's NCAA selection show with coach and player reaction.

This is Norman's second AP broadcast award. He won for "best sports feature" in 1977 with a profile of Windham High School boys cross country coach Bob Haddad's State Open championship team.

Norman is in his 29th year at WILI. He is the morning personality and program director at WILI, a charter member of the UConn Radio Network.


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