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throughout his career with everyone from coaches to families and coworkers.
“I think the biggest thing [that could’ve happened] is Zack (Fowler) making that phone call and telling me he wanted me to do baseball or basketball when I wasn’t even working for him,” Koon said. “Then he sent Marvin Mc-Intyre out there to meet with me to ask me to work for him – and that’s what truly changed my life.”
Koon says he had never been in full-time radio until his time with Vidalia Communications and Fowler. “I’m not sure either one of us thought it would turn into what it did,” he explained. “The awards that we brought in over 20 years from the Georgia Association of Broadcasting was just crazy – it wasn’t just one person; it was a whole team.”
“What [Fowler] did for this community, and what he allowed us to do for the community, was just amazing,” Koon continued. “He allowed me to be a part of Vidalia High School and all of the amazing people there who allowed me to be a part of this organization and never made me to feel an outsider – which was huge.”
He added, “I think that play-by-play and being involved in radio made that connection with the teams I broadcasted, because they always welcomed me in and made me a part of the team.”
Koon says that it is a relationship developed with former Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Executive Director Dr. Ralph Swearingen that helped accomplish one of the career successes he is most proud of: broadcasting the state football championship semi-finals online from the Georgia Dome. “John Pournelle and I got a group of 10 guys, and we did 10 games over the weekend on the internet from the Dome,” he shared. When the championship finals swapped over to being played in the Dome, Koon had the idea to broadcast those games online through a partnership with the Georgia News Network (GNN). “So from that point on, we did the GHSA GNN High School Network,” he reminisced. The Heart Behind It All According to Koon, his retirement would have happened a long time ago if it were not for members of the Vidalia High School Class of 2022. “Three years ago, I was contemplating retiring from broadcasting – I was ready to hang it up after their freshman year. [Vidalia Baseball] got beat in the quarterfinals of the state championship in Harlem,” he emphasized. “I was done after that, but those kids and Landry Mead, who was a year ahead [of the others], talked me into staying until they graduated.”
He says it wasn’t only the students, but also the parents who asked him to continue his work. “There’s always going to be that parent or student that wants you to stay,” Koon commented with a laugh. “If I listened to that, I don’t think I’d ever leave. But those kids are the ones that really made an impact on me.”
Koon told the students that if he stayed, he expected them to win a state championship. “When it was all over with, Ty Dalley walked up to me and said, ‘We got your state championship for you’ – that stuff means the world to me,” he remarked. “Obviously, they were playing for themselves, but that stuck in their minds: I was going out with them. This group of seniors knew that whether they won or lost, that was going to be their last game and my last game.”
“They remembered that, and for an old guy like me to have that honor for those kids to remember that is incredible,” he said. “This group of kids is just something special. I love all of those kids.”
He says those types of bonds with the students is what keeps him going. “I’ve been around them so long. I’ve been at almost every sporting event, whether I was broadcasting games or not,” Koon explained. “I try to support them in every way that I can, I try to be there for them to lean on, and I think it means something to them.”
“It’s not that I don’t want to do it anymore, I think the grind has just finally caught up with me,” Koon remarked. Though he admits he will miss the experiences of the games, Koon looks forward to this new stage of life with his family. “My wife has sacrificed 41 years of me being gone on Friday nights, Tuesday nights, Thursday, Saturday – never said a word because she knew that was my passion,” he said. “So I plan to spend a lot of time with her and my grandkids.” “The great thing about doing this is that I can still be involved, but if I don’t want to be there, I don’t have to be there,” Koon emphasized. “If [my grandchildren] Ollie or Sophie want to go to a football or baseball game, I can take them, and I can leave whenever they would like to – I couldn’t do that before. I could bring them, but there was no way I could take care of them.”
Koon boasted that his grandson Ollie will begin playing recreation baseball in the upcoming year, and he looks forward to being able to attend Ollie’s games. “One of the things I am most proud of is that I never missed a game that my daughters participated in because I was off broadcasting someone else’s game,” he said. “They both played softball and other sports, but I never missed one of their games because of being at others’ games. But I can’t say that about my grandkids’ games, and that bothers me.” “They deserve to have Poppy there, and that played a huge factor in the decision to retire from broadcasting,” he remarked.
Overall, Koon plans to travel with his wife, cheer on his grandchildren, and support his community in any way that he can. He assures the community that he will make a few special appearances in broadcasts, but will also enjoy this new stage in his life.