Media: UL radio play-by-play man Jay Walker still not sure what time it is
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Nov. 28, 2019
I’s that crazy time of year, when two worlds collide.
One, college football, is in the home stretch. The other, college basketball, is revving to get going at full speed.
For Ragin’ Cajuns radio play-by-play announcer Jay Walker, that means a wild run of going here, there and everywhere just to keep up.
Though he has spent much of a lifetime in the Acadiana market, Walker is a man accustomed to moving around.
Some days, there’s no telling where on the dial — KPEL 1420 AM, Lafayette’s ESPN sports-talk radio outlet, or sister station KHXT 107.9 FM, aka HOT, which plays pop most of the time — he might be heard working a game.
Jay Walker is UL's radio play-by-play man. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE / USATODAY Network)
Some days, it’s both at the same time — simulcast, as they say in the biz.
But the last few weeks, his travel in and out of Louisiana really has been dizzying — the sort of schedule met with mixed feelings by those accustomed to duffel bags, do-not-disturb signs and breakfast buffets.
“You dread it because it’s ‘What time zone am in?’ But I savor it because you get a lot of sympathy from people,” Walker said with a sly smile.
There are worse travel demands in the real work world.
But even for a guy paid to yap about sports, what’s come lately has been an overload of good times.
Go back to earlier this month; Nov. 7, to be precise.
Walker was in Conway, South Carolina, for the UL football team’s win at Coastal Carolina on a Thursday night.
Two nights later, he was working the basketball team’s home win over McNeese.
Three nights after that Walker was in Fort Worth, Texas, to call the UL basketball team’s loss to TCU.
From there it was onto the team bus for the ride back to Lafayette, where — after a 5 a.m. arrival — he returned in time to host his radio show on Wednesday and Thursday, then call the Cajuns’ home hoops win over Youngstown State on Friday night.
After the game at the Cajundome, Walker hit the road and headed straight to Mobile, Alabama, for the UL football team’s win at South Alabama the next afternoon.
He arrived around 2 a.m.
A few days after that, the longtime voice of the Cajuns caught a flight to Denver, spent the night, paid a quick visit to former UL coach Marty Fletcher (who lives in the area) and drove a rental car a couple hours to Laramie, Wyoming — over U.S. 287, a beautifully breathtaking experience of twists and turns — to call UL basketball's overtime loss to Wyoming on Thursday.
The team headed from there to Las Vegas for this week's MGM Grand Main Event tournament.
But not Walker.
Instead, he immediately drove from Laramie to Denver after the Wyoming game, slept for about three hours after making it back to Colorado, caught a 6 a.m. flight and returned to Lafayette to call Saturday’s football win over Troy.
Walker then returned to Las Vegas on Sunday to call the games against Detroit Mercy on Monday and UC Irvine on Tuesday.
Before this week is done, and after grabbing some grub on Thanksgiving Thursday, he plans to be back in the booth, fueled by leftovers, for Saturday’s regular season-ending football game at Cajun Field against UL Monroe.
Only then Walker can take a breath.
Twenty-four days, 10 games, at least eight states flown to or driven through, six tipoffs, four kickoffs, one major holiday, zero idea whether to wind the watch forward or back.
But plenty of fun, fun, fun.
“The toughest part is (being) in all these different time zones,” said Walker, who hit four in the month — Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. “It’s not … ‘Where am I?’ It’s … ‘What time is it?’”
Walker has dealt with crossover before.
But after staying a short field goal away from the Atlantic Ocean for the Coastal Carolina football game, taking a two-step to Texas, driving a dash across I-10 in the opposite direction to get to Mobile, flying to the east bench of the Rockies for the Wyoming games, returning to the west side of the mountains and into the desert for the games in Las Vegas, and making five return trips to Lafayette, the month is one to remember.
It’s too much to even deliberate what December might bring.
“This is about as strange as it gets, I think,” Walker said.
No traditional trains, granted, but plenty of planes, buses and automobiles. And all the crazy travel crossover season can conjure.