Jim Harris has been a fixture at Clinton radio station WYSH for 20 years.
Between serving as co-host of the morning show, news director and reporter, play-by-play announcer for Clinton High School athletics and taking care of many other duties at the station, Jim puts in a busy day from four in the morning until sometimes very late at night before turning around and doing it all again the next day.
With the exception of the legendary Charlie Phillips — who also performed a number of chores at WYSH for what seemed like a countless number of decades — Jim has broadcast the most Clinton High School athletics events, including football, basketball and even a little baseball. His radio voice is synonymous with the Clinton Dragons.
Jim, who was born in Oak Ridge and lived his early years in Harriman, got into radio as a student at Bradley University in Illinois and the University of Colorado. He was primarily a DJ on campus radio stations. He returned to East Tennessee in the mid-1990s when his father became the director of the University of Tennessee’s Biology Department. Upon returning to East Tennessee, he did DJ work for UT’s WUTK-FM, which is a rock station.
“I saw an ad in the paper that WYSH was looking for a person to work the board on Sundays when they had church-related programming and later in the day NASCAR races and so I applied and got the job,” Jim recalled. “I was still doing other jobs for a time since this was only on Sundays, but I eventually got hired full-time.”
Jim’s early years at WYSH included doing a lot of production work for the station’s coverage of both Clinton and Anderson County high schools. He was eventually named news director in 2000, which is the same year he started doing the morning show with station owner Ron Meredith and was also named full-time play-by-play announcer for Dragon athletics.
Through that latter responsibility, Jim became close to the Dragons’ athletic community, and it has continued to grow during the past 19 years.
“Jim is not only our announcer, but he is a good friend,” said Dragons’ boys basketball coach Chris Lockard. “He covers our games and interviews me after those games, but our families have done a lot of things together outside basketball. Jim is a professional in so many ways and I am proud to call him my friend.” As a sports announcer, Jim has gotten to know many Clinton athletes during and long after their playing days are over. One of those athletes is Lady Dragons’ basketball coach Alicia Phillips, who played point guard for Clinton in the early 2000s.
“He gave me the name ‘Downtown Alicia Brown’ and he still kids me about that today,” Phillips said. “Jim has always been a huge supporter of our program through both thick and thin. He has done so much both calling the games and in other ways that our players and I appreciate.”
With the exception of Oak Ridge and Campbell County, there are not any high schools from Knoxville north to the Kentucky line that have a radio station dedicated to airing both football and basketball. Lockard said that factor is a big plus for Clinton athletics.
“Our school is fortunate in that our athletic programs get publicity that a lot of other schools in our area would die to have,” Lockard said. “Clinton is a supportive community of its teams and the work that Jim and WYSH has done over these so many years has been so important in building excitement in our programs.”
Lockard said he will always be appreciative of Jim airing basketball play-by-play that his late father Don was able to listen to after he retired from coaching almost 20 years ago.
“Dad could not attend a lot of games because of his health, but he would always listen to Jim’s broadcasts,” Lockard said. “Dad and I would always go over the games on video afterwards, but Dad already had a good idea of what he was about to see based on listening to Jim’s broadcasts. Those broadcasts helped Dad help me as I prepared for our next practice and next game. “
Some of Jim’s highlights of Clinton athletics during his tenure include the Dragons’ run to the 2004 boys state basketball tournament, a very successful girls basketball season in the late 2000s as the Lady Dragons earned a spot in the region tournament and the 2009 football team’s run into the playoffs just a few years after winning only two games in three years.
“Basketball is my favorite,” said Jim, who lists Dick Enberg, Pat Summerall, John Madden and Vin Scully as announcers he tries to pattern his style after. “I like all sports, but basketball has always been at the top for me and I live for basketball.”
Jim, along with wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, have also found Clinton be a wonderful place to live.
“We lived in Knoxville and I commuted before we moved to Clinton a few years ago,” Jim said. “We wanted to raise our daughter in good schools and we also know how great Clinton is to raise a family. We very much enjoy living in this community and being a part of so many things. We are blessed.”