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Former UNA broadcaster J.D. Byars, who now works at South Alabama, has been named Alabama's Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Photo by Scott Donaldson of USA Athletics.

Hartselle native, JD Byars, named state’s top broadcaster

Special by David Elwell, Decatur Daily

WINSTON SALEM, NC – Hartselle native, JD Byars, has been named the 2019 Alabama Sportscaster of the Year.

Byars, who is the voice of the University of South Alabama athletic programs since 2014, received the honor Monday from the National Sports Media Association. Byars was a finalist with Eli Gold, the voice of Alabama football.

“To have been a finalist for this award with Eli Gold is humbling in itself and to get the call that I won this year was just a shock,” Byars said.

The NSMA honors a broadcaster and sportswriter in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The 61st annual NSMA Awards banquet will be held on June 29th.

The list of broadcasters honored from Alabama over the years includes Gold, John Forney, Jim Fyffe, Rod Bramblett, and Chris Stewart. Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News is the 2019 Alabama Sportswriter of the Year.

Byars is a 1990 graduate of Hartselle High. While in high school, he was a kicker for the Tigers and coach Don Woods. He was all-state in 1989.

He signed with UNA after his senior year. While in college, he got into broadcasting. He worked for the UNA Athletic Department until 2014.

“The NSMA stresses that current professionals mentor and encourage the future generation of broadcasters,” Byars said. “Without Eli as a tremendous role model, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He’s been a great example and help along the way.”

Byars and his wife, Beverly, have a son, Jake, and daughter, Stella Beth.

National Sports Media Association

The 2019 National Sportscaster of the Year is Kevin Harlan of CBS, Turner and Westwood One. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is the National Sportswriter of the Year.

The NSMA will add three new members to the Sportscasters Hall of Fame and three to the Sportswriters Hall of Fame. Joining the Sportscasters Hall of Fame will be the late Skip Caray of the Atlanta Braves (1976-2007), the late Cawood Ledford of the University of Kentucky (1953-1992), and Dan Patrick of ESPN, NBC, and the “Dan Patrick Show.”

The new members of the Sportswriters Hall of Fame will be Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, Mike Wilbon, formerly with the Washington Post, and the late Dick Young of the New York Daily News.

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