Chelsea native, former SCR sports editor Randy Kennedy honored with Alabama Sports Hall of Fame’s Mel Allen Award

Published 4:49 pm Sunday, December 17, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame’s board of directors announced on Monday, Dec. 11 that Chelsea native and University of Montevallo graduate Randy Kennedy will be honored with the 2024 Mel Allen Media Award at the 2024 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The Mel Allen Media Award is a lifetime award given annually to one of the best sports journalists in the state of Alabama.

Kennedy was surprised by the announcement and honored to be mentioned alongside Allen, a Birmingham native and Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee who was famously the voice of the New York Yankees for two decades.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” Kennedy said. “It never was a life goal, and I never thought that it was anything possible, especially when you think about Mel Allen, who’s the greatest to ever do it in Alabama. It’s just really humbling and surprising.”

Kennedy currently hosts “The Randy Kennedy Show” on Sports Talk 99.5 in Mobile, but he grew up in Chelsea and played football, basketball tennis and other sports while he was there. While he didn’t pursue playing sports beyond high school, reading about his teams in the Shelby County Reporter sparked a love for sports media.

“I played a whole bunch of sports, and I was very serious about it, but was not really all that good,” Kennedy said. “But I can remember every week looking to see if my name was in the Shelby County Reporter, which was just the coolest thing in the world if that happened.”

After going to college at Montevallo and broadcasting local high school games over the radio on WBYE, he transitioned into print journalism and joined the same paper he grew up reading as a sports reporter, eventually working his way into becoming the Shelby County Reporter’s sports editor.

While he eventually moved to The Dothan Eagle to cover Auburn, he kept the Reporter and his hometown in his heart and still cherishes his time covering sports in the county.

“I left there to go to The Dothan Eagle but I said when I left, ‘I really don’t want to leave. I would be happy being the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter the rest of my life if I made more than $2 an hour,’” Kennedy said. “I didn’t feel like I had to leave, but I was as happy as I could ever possibly be just working at the Shelby County Reporter.”

From there, he rose through the ranks of the state, covering Alabama’s 1992 national championship for the Eagle and later writing for the Valdosta Daily Times, Alexander City Outlook, Opelika-Auburn News and the Mobile Press-Register before going back to radio.

He cherishes how he used his knowledge of his home state to find success in Alabama and achieve his dream of covering the best in college and high school sports.

“My goal was to go as the high up the ladder as I could in college sports and high school sports, and really, there’s nowhere better to do that than right here,” Kennedy said. “I always felt like, ‘OK, I’ve got a niche whether I’m writing or I’m on the radio or on television or whatever. I can provide something in Alabama that other people can’t just because I’ve been here long enough. I know coaches, I know players, I know the history and all that.’”

Kennedy will be recognized at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame’s 56th Induction Banquet and Ceremony at the Sheraton Birmingham on May 4. He will join other notable recipients including Paul Finebaum, Rick Karle, Cecil Hurt and Ron Ingram, many of whom he calls colleagues and friends.

“It’s a real honor with a lot of these guys like Rick Karle and Cecil Hurt and Mark McCarter and Ron Ingram and Rubin Grant, a bunch of these guys that I’ve worked alongside and that I know and that I really respect,” Kennedy said. “But I think I could speak for all those folks when I say being compared to Mel Allen is kind of ridiculous even for those great people that I just mentioned. Mel Allen is one of the greatest to ever do it and such a pioneer. The people that are already in and who have won this award, it’s a who’s who of Alabama media, so it’s a real honor.”