A Voice That Echoes ‘Wooo Pig'

A Voice That Echoes ‘Wooo Pig'
Nolan Richardson in 2008 (Eric Howerton)

That rich baritone urging us to discover Fayetteville’s Dickson Street sounded familiar, with a hint of west Texas but a strong echo of Razorback basketball glory.

“We don’t even mention his name in the ads,” Experience Fayetteville CEO Molly Rawn said. “We didn’t make him a spokesman, because we wanted the ad to be front and center. Some people will recognize the voice, and others won’t, but we wanted authenticity, and he certainly has it.”

“He” is Nolan Richardson, the only University of Arkansas basketball coach to lead the Hogs to a modern Final Four title, back in 1994. The former coach who grew up in El Paso, Texas, has been retired on his Fayetteville ranch since 2002, when the late Frank Broyles dismissed him amid Richardson’s charges of institutional racism.

Richardson’s NCAA title became a treasured fan memory over the years, and the university made amends in 2019 by naming the Bud Walton Arena hardwood the Nolan Richardson Court.

Rawn said the coach was an “authentic voice” and perfect choice for two 30-second spots running on YouTube and the Fayetteville tourism agency’s online ad package, one on nightlife and the other on the bicycling craze in northwest Arkansas.

“Earlier this year our marketing team was talking with the folks from the Sells Agency [of Little Rock] about the new ad campaign focusing on authenticity and how Fayetteville is a place you just have to visit,” Rawn said. “We typically hire voice talent by listening to clips and picking a voice we like. But in tossing around ideas, somebody said, ‘What about Nolan?’ and I got so excited. I wanted nobody else.”

Richardson, who turned 80 in December, tells viewers that “for an authentic experience in northwest Arkansas, you’ve got to experience Fayetteville.”

He took an undisclosed fee typical for voice-overs, Rawn said, admitting to just one regret about the production.

“Each of the two ads has a Spanish-language version, and I should have asked the coach to do them,” she said. “He’s fluent and is a beautiful Spanish speaker.”