Former Annapolis Star Again Takes To The Air As A Dj

SIDELINES

November 17, 1991|By Pat O'Malley

Jeff Brown always was smooth and a great rebounder when he played atAnnapolis High, so it comes as no great surprise that his smooth delivery has him working at a major-market radio station in Washington, Magic 102.3.

Brown, the former All-County cager who graduated fromAnnapolis in 1980, is the Magic 102.3 disc jockey for the 10 a.m. to3 p.m. shift each day. He's doing what he always wanted to do, although it didn't come as easy as he sounds.

He landed the job at Magic 102.3 in January after starting his career at WANN in Annapolis. The 29-year-old Brown actually began broadcasting at the Towson State University campus station where he went to school.

He went from WANN to Baltimore stations WEBB and WWIN before starting at Magic 102.3, which features a variety of oldies but goodies with, in Brown's words, "a dabble of the latest."

In what is a more-music, less-commercials kind of format, Brown sends out thesounds of the likes of Barry White and Gladys Knight and other artists from a golden era that also includes Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and Lou Rawls.

"Our demographics are the 25-to-54 age group, no rapmusic," said Brown, whose voice and delivery are pleasant to the ears.

That's the way the guy played on the basketball court, under control and forever keeping the attention of opponents as a 6-foot-5, 180-pound power forward for Coach John Brady's Panthers.

"Jeff was a powerful player, very strong, very good jumper and defensive player," said Brady, whose 15-year coaching career began in the Cap City inBrown's sophomore year. Brown was called up to the varsity for the playoffs at the end of his sophomore season.

"Jeff was the ideal power forward, could run, rebound, shoot it and score inside. He could have been a tight end in football, but he only played basketball."

Known as "Bone" in his playing days, Brown was a member of one of the finest Annapolis teams ever assembled, the 1978-1979 edition (20-3)that came within eight seconds of winning a state championship at the University of Maryland Cole Field House.

Brown was a forward on that team that upset the Thurl Bailey-led Bladensburg of Montgomery County power in the state semis and nearly pulled off the same of Montgomery Blair in the final.

Bailey plays these days in the NationalBasketball Association with the Utah Jazz after a super collegiate career at N.C. State.

Unfortunately for Brown and the Panthers, thesemifinal upset of Bailey and Bladensburg was costly as half of one of the greatest backcourts to ever play county hoops, Barry Booth, broke his foot in the last two minutes and sat helplessly on the pines next to Coach Brady in the final.

Booth's backcourt partner, the classy Kevin Thompson, played his heart out along with Brown and soph Keith Colbert, who one day would be drafted by the Philadelphia 76'ers after a brilliant career at Virginia Tech.

It came down to a one-point game with eight seconds to go and a one-and-one situation at the foul line for senior Steve Snowden. The ball just wouldn't find the cylinder, and the Panthers suffered a heartbreaking defeat.

"I'll never forget that game and how close we came to winning it all," Brown recalled.

"If Barry had played, I really believe we would havewon that game. Barry was the difference in the two points for sure."

Brown's senior year saw the Panthers go 19-6, losing to eventual state champion Laurel in the state semis. A hoop scholarship to first-year Division I program Towson State University was waiting for Brown, but it was to be a short-lived college career.

After a couple of years with the Tigers, Brown, who majored in mass communications because his lifelong goal was to become a radio personality, gave up hoops.

He dropped out of school his sophomore year at Towson State after the death of his mother from cancer.

"My mom was my backbone.I am what I am because of my mom, and when I lost her, it was tough,real tough," said Brown. "She was my heart, and I lost my will to play.

"But in the fall of '83, Terry Truax (head TSU coach), who hadrecruited me while he was at Mississippi State, talked me into coming back. He had no scholarships, but I made it as a walk-on."

Afterplaying one game, an academic foul-up resulted in his grade-point average being questioned. A grade that Brown had made up had not been changed to the new one, and it created problems, enough that Brown said, "I just got fed up with the program and got out of it. I thought about transferring to another school but just gave it up and continuedin school."

All the while, Brown stayed in radio. His broadcast career began at WANN in Annapolis, a 50,000-watt station. Brown did news and sports and was a part-time disc jockey at WANN, gaining valuable experience behind the mike.

Saturday afternoons Brown could be heard on WANN reviewing the action from Friday night's Annapolis Outdoor Summer Basketball League at Truxtun Park.

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