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Last Call for the ‘Voice of the Pack’

After 34 years, Gary Hahn is hanging up his play-by-play microphone for NC State’s football and men’s basketball programs. He’s one of just four play-by-play announcers in NC State radio network history.

Gary Hahn is recognized on the court of PNC Arena after calling his last men's basketball game earlier this week.

For generations of NC State sports fans, Gary Hahn has provided the soundtrack to their fondest memories of Wolfpack football, baseball and men’s basketball.

Since 1990, Hahn has been the regular play-by-play announcer for the Wolfpack Sports Network, a position held by just four announcers since it was formed in 1961 as a regional broadcast outlet for radio stations across North Carolina and neighboring states.

Hahn has a pretty good idea of how many football games he called—414, because someone did the research for him—but he can’t say the same for the more than 1,200 basketball broadcasts and hundreds of baseball broadcasts he’s done, mainly because there are split duties in those sports and he hasn’t called every possible game.

Gary Hahn wearing a headset in the broadcast booth, with the football field of Carter-Finley Stadium behind him.
Gary Hahn in the broadcast booth for a football game at Carter-Finley Stadium

He’s also spent time away from both sports for various reasons, most recently missing four consecutive broadcasts while taking care of his dying mother.

She passed away the day after the North Carolina game, and he returned to the broadcast table for the Duke game. Like most sports media lifers, Hahn’s calendar is defined less by dates than by a predetermined schedule of games.

He does remember his first football game, a 67-0 victory in which opponent Western Carolina did not make a first down — something that hasn’t happened in a major college football game since.

And his first men’s basketball game in 1990, which he shared with new basketball coach Les Robinson, rings a bell, too. Hahn had a truly captive audience for that first game, since the 120-79 victory was played on the road and was not televised.

To be honest, though, Hahn doesn’t have vivid memories of specific games or events. Win or lose, he tries to erase everything that just happened and move forward to prepare for the next contest.

“The Lord blessed me with a good short-term memory, which you need for this job,” Hahn says. “But I have a terrible long-term memory. As soon as this game’s over, I’m flushing it and I’m going on to start preparing for the next one.”

Gary Hahn sitting at a table with other broadcasters to call a basketball game at the University of Virginia.
Gary Hahn calling a recent basketball game for the Wolfpack at the University of Virginia.

After the Wolfpack men’s team completes the current season, Hahn knows he won’t have a next game to prepare for. That doesn’t mean he’ll be inactive. First he’ll go through the difficult process of settling his mother’s estate. Then in August, he’ll marry fiancee Rhonda Potts, a retiring kindergarten teacher.

“Oh, I’ve got all sorts of stuff to do,” Hahn says. “I think the first two years after retirement, I’m going to be slammed. After that, I think I’d like to play in some charity golf tournaments and do the things I enjoy.”

The truth is, he can’t wait.

“I never wanted to die at the mic,” he says. “I’m going to miss being on the air, but I am not going to miss all the prep work and stuff that you have to do to get ready to be on the air.”

At PNC Arena during Monday night’s game against Duke, Hahn’s achievements were recognized on the videoboard, and he was given a framed basketball jersey and football jersey, both with the number 34.

He’s gotten messages from people he’s worked with through the years, including a phone call from former football coach Mike O’Cain and former basketball coach Sidney Lowe. Peggy Amato called on behalf of husband Chuck, another former football coach. Basketball coach Herb Sendek texted to say good luck.

I’ve met a lot of good people and worked with a lot of great people in this business. Being able to come to NC State has been probably the greatest blessing of my professional life.

The last two years have taken their toll emotionally, as he continued to work while moving his mother from the Washington, D.C., area and serving as her primary caregiver, something he did until her death on Feb. 25.

“I’ll miss all the players and the coaches and support people,” Hahn says, who has also broadcast games for Butler, Louisville basketball and Alabama football, the latter two during national championship seasons. “I’ve met a lot of good people and worked with a lot of great people in this business. Being able to come to NC State has been probably the greatest blessing of my professional life.”

NC State hasn’t had to find a new “Voice of the Pack” for the past five football coaches, five basketball coaches and five athletics directors. Historically, it’s been a job held by few people.

Hahn is one of just four full-time men’s basketball and football play-by-play announcers for the school’s radio network: Bill Jackson (1961-73), Reese Edwards (1973-74), Wally Ausley (1975-90) and Hahn (1990-2024).

Ausley first served as a color commentator on the radio network. When Jackson fell ill and eventually died during the 1973-74 NCAA championship season, local sports radio personality Reese Edwards filled in for just that year. Ausley took over play-by-play duties when Garry Dornburg was hired as the color analyst.

The process of hiring a new play-by-play announcer will begin when the season ends, says Kyle Winchester, general manager for Learfield’s multimedia rightsholder Wolfpack Sports Properties. It’s an important decision, even though radio is no longer the primary delivery mechanism for athletics now that most games are televised, streamed or shared digitally in other ways.

“Learfield will manage in collaboration with and consultation with athletics on that process,” Winchester says. “Right now, it’s about getting through this season, celebrating Gary and all that he has done and seeing what happens next.”

This post was originally published in NC State News.