Georgia State Picks A New Fight Song

Intercollegiate football is coming to Georgia State University next year. In addition to a new logo and a new mascot, the school is going to get a new fight song to replace Panther Pride. Georgia State's new director of athletic bands, Chester Phillips, says the new song could be unveiled this basketball season.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Next year, intercollegiate football is coming to Georgia State University, and the athletic director of the Atlanta school put our finger on something that needs changing. In addition to a new logo, Georgia State University is going to get a new fight song, a song to replace "Panther Pride." Why replace "Panther Pride"? Take a listen.

Unidentified Man: One, two, ready and...

(Soundbite of song, "Panther Pride")

SIEGEL: We hear that the song has actually been nicknamed the panther polka. In any case, Georgia State's new director of athletic bands, Chester Phillips, is on the phone, and he joins us now.

I gather that was the first time that you've heard "Panther Pride."

Mr. CHESTER PHILLIPS (Director of Athletic Bands, Georgia State University): Yeah, it was actually the first time I've heard it, yes.

SIEGEL: What do you think?

Mr. PHILLIPS: I think there's a lot of spirit to it and a lot of rhythm, but I'm having a little difficult time even remembering the melody after just having heard it.

SIEGEL: You know, listening to that clip, I was wondering: Of all the changes that have happened in band music, does it make sense that college fight songs are still kind of a double-time, Sousa-like marches played by a brass band? Couldn't there be some totally different kind of music that college students would relate to as a fight song?

Mr. PHILLIPS: You know, I think that there could be, but something that John Philip Sousa used to say was that when you hear a march, you can't help but be in a good mood. There is something about a march that has a really great melody, and they have a great tempo and a feel and a liveliness that just evokes the spirit.

SIEGEL: I think there are probably some people listening right now who are thinking, wait a minute, NPR is always covering state budget deficits all over the country. We're in a deep recession. Georgia State is starting a football program in the midst of all this and beginning with a big marching band?

Mr. PHILLIPS: You know, being new to the university with this position, I think the decisions to start a football team definitely precede my presence on the university. I think one of the things that I believe the former president of the university and the athletic director and alumni had said was we really want to have one of the things that will, you know, kind of bring that traditional college feel to our campus because it, ultimately, it's about having the students - the students having the opportunities that they want to have.

SIEGEL: So when will everybody get to hear the new Georgia State fight song?

Mr. PHILLIPS: Well, we're very hopeful that we'll be able to actually kind of kick that off during this basketball season, kind of as a sneak preview and -so that when we do kick it off next fall, September 2nd, in the Georgia Dome, that there will already be some people kind of attached to it and know exactly what's coming and that they'll be able to sing along.

SIEGEL: Well, Mr. Phillips, thank you very much for talking with us about the fight song.

Mr. PHILLIPS: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: That's Chester Phillips, who is the director of athletic bands - that's a new position - at Georgia State University, which is developing a new fight song.

(Soundbite of music)

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

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