By Marty Gordon
A familiar voice is heading back to the radio booth for Virginia Tech football games this fall. Former play-by-play announcer Bill Roth returns after a seven-year absence.
Jon Laaser replaced Roth in 2015 after Roth accepted a similar post at UCLA. He stayed there for a year before returning to Blacksburg to teach Broadcasting classes. Laaser left abruptly during this past year’s basketball season, and there had been plenty of rumors Roth might be coming back.
Tim Bickford replaced Laaser during the remainder of the college basketball season.
Roth had been doing nationally-broadcasted high school football games and picked up an ACC-network broadcast here and there.
“What an exciting time to return to the Hokies,” Roth pointed out. “We’ve got so many stories to tell and memories to make for Tech fans of all generations. There’s so much positive momentum around Virginia Tech Athletics right now under the leadership of Whit Babcock and his staff. It’s just awesome to be a part of it again as we kick-off the Brent Pry era.”
Tech Director of Athletics Whit Babcock having Roth return as the play-by-play voice of Virginia Tech Football should be a seamless fit for someone whose heart has really never left Blacksburg.
“Bill has been responsible for some of the most iconic radio calls in Hokies’ history and we all look forward to hearing him describe more memorable moments along with his longtime partner, Mike Burnop. Both Coach Pry and I greatly appreciate Bill’s depth of knowledge on all things Hokies, as well as his colorful storytelling skills,” Babcock said.
Roth helped found the Virginia Tech’s sports media and analytics program and most recently shifted it to Tech’s school of communications. He is a 2013 Virginia Sports Hall of Fame inductee and is an 11-time Virginia Sportscaster of the Year. When he left for UCLA, he had spent 27 full seasons in Blacksburg.
Roth will team again with former Hokie player Mike Burnop, who he had 25 past years in the booth together.
. “I’m happy to welcome him back to the broadcast booth in Blacksburg as a friend and colleague. From the National Championship Game in New Orleans to Michael Vick and the Miracle in Morgantown, we’ve shared countless games with Hokie Nation over the years. There was even that time Tyrod ‘did it’ against Nebraska! I’m looking forward to sharing more Virginia Tech Football victories and great plays with Bill starting again this fall,” said Burnop.
In addition to his play-by-play duties for Tech Football, Roth plans to host podcasts for Tech Athletics and will write a regular column for Inside Hokie Sports magazine.
“This is a special place for me,” Roth acknowledged. “This stadium. This campus. This community. As a broadcaster and now as an instructor, I’ve seen how Virginia Tech impacts the lives of its students and student-athletes. It’s just a remarkable place with truly caring and genuine people, and I’m just delighted to return to the booth with my dear friend, Mike Burnop. Reunion tours can be fun, and I’m glad we’ve got the band back together again!”
Roth graduated from Syracuse’s prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in 1987. Upon graduation, Roth used his demo reel from the 1987 NCAA men’s basketball national championship game between Syracuse and Indiana to help land his initial appointment with Virginia Tech in 1988. He was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Learfield IMG, which handles the sports marketing and broadcast side of things at Tech, will advertise for a new basketball play-by-play guy as Roth will not do basketball games.
Roth will be calling Saturday’s Spring Game on television for ACC Network with former Tech wide receiver Eddie Royal handling the color commentary, with Taylor Davis reporting from the sidelines.
Roth will officially return to the radio booth for the Hokies on Friday, Sept. 2 in Tech’s season opener at Old Dominion.