WDBJ7 Archive: FFE celebrates 40 seasons

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 4:27 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Friday Football Extra is celebrating 40 seasons, with the first show debuting September 14, 1984, as the first high school football show in Virginia. WDBJ7 searched through the archives for the 20-year anniversary special hosted by former WDBJ7 Sports Director Mike Stevens in 2003.

The show was created by former WDBJ7 news director and vice president Jim Shaver, and hosted by John Kernan, who went on to become an ESPN broadcaster. The original show was 15 minutes, compared to the 35-minute show we see today.

In the 20-year special, former Chief Photographer Neil Dudley emphasized how the crew faced many challenges in bringing football to our hometowns, such as trying not to be tackled by players while filming on the sidelines. Through humid to chilly weather, WDBJ7 has been on the sidelines capturing every moment.

November 14, 1992, the first live broadcast of local football games kicked off in a game of Glenvar vs. Parry McCluer. Since then, WDBJ7 has shared many memories of touchdowns, cheering stadiums, and player-of-the-week features.

Stevens hosted the show for roughly 20 years and hosted both the 10 and 20-year specials recapping the history of FFE. Travis Wells succeded Stevens in hosting the show from 2008 to 2023 where he brought FFE to Facebook and Twitter, even creating an app for live updates. Today the show is hosted by current Sports Director Brittaney Morgan and Sports Anchor Anthony Romano who lead the team in posting live score updates, game highlights, and covering games in our hometowns.

FFE has featured celebrity shoutouts from Billy Ray Cyrus, Mandy Moore, Garth Brooks, MC Hammer, Alex Trebek, and many more. These were coordinated by Stevens who was able to snag an interview before many made appearances at the now Berglund Civic Center.

While celebrity shout-outs are certainly special, FFE’s main focus has been on the players.

Some players featured in FFE went on to play professionally, including Pulaski’s Shayne Graham who played for 11 NFL teams as a placekicker during his 15-year career. Cave Spring’s Ronde Barber played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 16 seasons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2023, and Tiki Barber was running back for the New York Giants for 10 seasons. WDBJ7 also featured Logan Thomas, of Lynchburg, who has played for 4 NFL teams since the start of his seven-season career and is the current tight end for the Washington Commanders.

Friday Football Extra has evolved with every season and each week provides a new opportunity to showcase players and schools of our hometowns. Thank you for celebrating 40 seasons with your hometown station.