Headin’ Over to Bill’s

When football and television were still mostly in the game-of-the-week phase of their courtship, when the internet was just some secret nerd project, Orlando — specifically Bill Malone’s house — was the place to be for Auburn fans outside the state of Alabama’s collective radio reach.

Malone, a 1968 Auburn graduate and founder of the Orlando Area Auburn Club, died yesterday of liver failure at the age of 62.

In the dark times, before The Ocho, great Auburn men like Bill Malone would go the extra technological yard in order to keep himself and his friends in play-by-play sync with their team.

Wrote Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel:

Once he settled in Winter Park, he put his engineering skills to work, finding ways to obtain the audio or video signals to Auburn football games; he then would invite other Auburn graduates to listening or watching parties.

I wrote Robbins an e-mail and asked him to elaborate. Did this imply some sort of primitive short-wave hacking? Calling in favors from friends in television?

War Eagle, Professor, would… you like to watch… a game?

The details, said Robins, were sketchy. But one of Malone’s favorite schemes for bringing real-time Auburn drama to the Tiger diaspora of pre-satellite Orlando was likely the classic phone-to-the-radio technique. Only instead of the gather-round, pass-around, scream-out-the-score method, it seems he would somehow rig up an amplifier and boom the radio broadcast into the party (and the after-party).

Said Malone’s sister Rebecca West, “I can tell you, Auburn lost a big fan today.”

[We’ve almost got a series going on Auburn ingenuity.]

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