Classy Gary Hahn, NC State announcer, got the last word

After 34 years in the booth, Gary Hahn signed off for the last time following the Wolfpack basketball team’s final game. His retirement was delayed by NC State’s astonishing run through the ACC Tournament and to the NCAA Final Four. He weathered an unwarranted attack on his character and had the last word following the Pack’s loss to Purdue which ended the season.

Below is his farewell oratory. Many of the sentences that don’t mention God or Jesus or his spirituality have been printed elsewhere but this is the entirety of his comments.

“In Pittsburgh, and then in Dallas, and then here in Phoenix, I’ve had so many people come up to me and say so many nice things and so many kind words,” Hahn said. “‘I’ve been listening to you all my life’ and ‘We’re gonna miss you’ and ‘Thank you for 34 years of wonderful service.’ And it’s just been great. I couldn’t go through the hotel lobby without five or six people wanting pictures. I was floored. I couldn’t believe it.

“So as this broadcast comes to a close, so does my 34-year career as the radio play-by-play voice of NC State basketball and football. And I’d just like to take a few minutes — if you don’t mind — to say a couple of words that we don’t say enough in our culture, and that’s ‘Thank you,’ before I leave the air tonight. First, I want to thank the Lord Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, for wiring me with a desire and a talent for radio announcing and then for developing that talent so that I could perform at the major college level. If you’d have heard me as a high school senior and you said this kid wants to get into broadcasting, you’d have been laughing at me because I sounded terrible. So, I want to thank the Lord for that and thank him for opening up some doors for me to come to NC State 34 years ago. Coming to Raleigh has been the greatest professional blessing of my life. The Lord has guided me – he’s protected me the entire time I’ve been here representing NC State and I’m grateful for that too.

“I want to thank my teammates. God put a wonderful team of people around me. I basically consider myself sort of an average announcer but I’ve got a tremendous support team. I could not have had better broadcast partners than Johnny Evans and Tony Haines for football. Johnny has been a hero of mine as I’ve told him many times and it has nothing to do with his All-America football career at NC State. For basketball there is no better radio analyst than the guy sitting to my left here, Tony Haynes. He’s been absolutely outstanding – He has incredible insight. He’s just made our broadcast so much better and a lot more listenable. Tony, I just appreciate you as a friend and coworker and all that you’d done for the 25 years or so that we’ve worked together. I have enjoyed my statistian for 34 years – Howard Baum – he’s already moved to the bus. He’s been amazing and he’s always added the right information at the right time to our broadcast. I’ve always appreciated that and I’m sure you listeners have too. Frances Combs has been my extra pair of eyes during football games as my spotter. He’s bailed me out of potential mistakes more times than I can count. He’s a good friend as well. David Modlin is so talented. He’s our producer engineer although he wasn’t here tonight. The ACC hires him to set up radio row at the men’s basketball tournament and there’s nobody more loyal or has more attention to detail than David Modlin.

“Next, I want to thank you listeners, because you’re the real VIPs,” Hahn added. “Without you, I’d have no job. And your support and kindness has been incredible, as I mentioned earlier. And it’s been incredible, especially over the past 15 months. And I just want you to know that everything I tried to do in the 34 years that I’ve been at NC State, everything that’s come out of that radio speaker, has been designed to serve you and represent our advertisers and NC State at the most professional level possible.

“So, thank you for listening. Thank you for all the feedback over the years. You’re wonderful. I will never forget the big roar of approval and the standing ovation you gave me during the last home basketball game on March 3. I just wished my mother could’ve either heard it or witnessed it. I was her caregiver for the last two years and the Lord took her home on February 25th. I just wish she’d have been around to hear some of this. My parents were wonderful to me and I know they would have loved hearing that. So, thank you for all that tribute on March 3rd. My employer, Learfield, planned all of that. They have been absolutely wonderful to me for every bit, every bit of the last 14 years. And before that so was Capital Broadcasting. I worked for them for nearly 20 years. I want to thank all the players and coaches I’ve worked with during my time at NC State. You’re the real reason why we’ve got radio broadcasting in the first place. Without players like, well, the entire NC State basketball team that won the ACC championship last month and a lot of other great players. I can think of Torry Holt, Chris Corchianni and Tom Gugliotta, just one after another, Carlos Rodon in baseball, Trea Turner, thousands more. And coaches who treated me so well like Elliott Avent, and Dick Sheridan – the late Dick Sheridan – Mike O’Cain, probably the nicest man I’ve ever met in all college athletics, and probably the second nicest guy Les Robinson, Chuck Amato, Sydney Lowe, Mark Gottfried, Kevin Keatts. Without all of you, there wouldn’t be any Wolfpack sports. So thanks to everybody who’s ever put on an NC State uniform or coached a team over the last 34 years.

“Just want to let you know that before just about every broadcast for the last 20 years, I prayed to God I’d be glorified, and I’d be forgotten. Well, now it’s time for me to be forgotten. My time is up, and I thank you for yours for the last 34 years.”

Earlier in March, an interviewer asked Hahn about his “misstep,” which wasn’t really a misstep. He said it was really just irreverent humor – although it was more truth than humor – but he had been told not to comment on the controversy. He said he did learn one thing from the experience. “I can remember going back from the game and everyone’s deadly quiet in the car, no one wants to say anything. My phone’s blowing up with all this stuff. I just said ‘guys, you can talk. I’ve made a decision. I’m gonna let Jesus Christ fight my battle for me and whatever the outcome is, that’s going to be his will. And I’m cool with that.’ I found out the next couple of weeks that 90 percent of people out there love me. Ten percent hate my guts. The 10 percent called me every name in the book and 90 percent love me. That was the biggest thing I learned from that. I never knew how people felt about me. I knew they must have accepted me because I’m still there for, at that point, 33 years. But I never really thought of how they felt about me as a person and how I represented the university and all of that. It turned out that something that most people would think is a terrible, embarrassing moment actually to me, turned out to be a blessing.”

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