SBJ/December 3 - 9, 2001/Media

Former Auburn coach Dye extending his reach in Alabama media

It's too early to say that former head football coach Pat Dye has built a media dynasty equal to his success at Auburn. But the energetic 62-year-old continues to establish himself as a media presence in Alabama on several fronts.

His most recent project is publishing a monthly newsletter, Wildlife Trends, that contains articles by biologists and land-management experts on developing habitats for hunters and animal lovers alike.

And a statewide radio show, "Alabama Outdoors with Coach Dye," has done so well that talks are under way about producing a similar show that would air all across the South.

Meanwhile, the frank, straight-shooting Dye has been heard all fall on sports radio shows critiquing Alabama and Auburn football. He also does commercials for Express Oil Change and other sponsors.

"It's a lot less stressful than coaching," he said.

Dye is considered Auburn's most successful modern-day coach, posting a 99-39-4 record and four Southeastern Conference championships from 1981 to 1992.

Wildlife Trends is published by Dye and four partners. The research newsletter runs from 16 to 20 pages and contains advice for landowners seeking to transform their property into hunting havens.

Dye is enjoying producing a product that appeals to football fans of every stripe.

"Both Auburn and Alabama people like to hunt and fish," he said, "and I don't have to take sides."

The first issue was mailed in January to 500 acquaintances of the five investors. The group recently brought in Andy Whitaker, former merchandise sales manager for Buckmaster's magazine, to direct an aggressive marketing campaign.

Whitaker said advertisements soon will be placed in Quail Unlimited and National Wild Turkey magazines and in the Alabama Wildlife Federation's magazine. He acknowledged that the well-known Dye "is our best advertisement."

"Our target audience is mostly landowners who may just grow timber and want to enhance their property or may be looking for something to attract game," Whitaker said. "But we do a lot of articles on backyard habitats — what's the best thing to grow for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies."

Dye said the newsletter maintains its objectivity by refusing advertising. Subscriptions are $125 for 12 issues.

"It's a little pricey," Dye said. "We wrestled around about what it would cost for a long time. But for the knowledge you get, if it can help you eliminate one mistake you could pay for a 10-year subscription."

Dye's partners are Whitaker; editor Lee Striblin, associate professor in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn; and Jimmy and Wayne Bassett, owners of Beck's Turf Farm in Auburn.

Dye said there's a good chance he'll soon be hosting a new syndicated regional wildlife radio show throughout the South.

"We're in the talking stages," he said. "I think it will be a reality. It's just a matter of when."

Gilbert Nicholson writes for the Birmingham (Ala.) Business Journal.

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