written by R.L. Bynum
Glenn weighs many options but doesn’t miss hosting sports show during a pandemic
Around noon last Thursday, David Glenn and Daron Vaught were together just as they were most weekdays at that time the previous nearly five years. Instead of talking into microphones during “The David Glenn Show,” taking listener calls and welcoming guests, they were playing a round of golf at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary.
Any sports talk between them — at a social distance — isn’t heard statewide anymore from noon to 3 p.m. as it was when Vaught produced Glenn’s syndicated show.
It’s a crazy time for everybody because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including them. Curtis Media Group, which syndicated his show, fired Glenn and Vaught on March 6. But Glenn admits that he doesn’t miss doing a sports radio show when there are no games and he doesn’t envy hosts.
“There’s a good part and a bad part of the timing with my situation,” said Glenn, who was host of that show for nearly 11 years. “Ninety-eight percent to 99% of the time, for 20-plus years, I was excited about hosting a sports radio show.”
The other 1% or 2% came during the summer weeks with no ACC, Carolina Hurricanes or Carolina Panthers games, leading to shows with talk about sports movies, pop culture and peripheral sports topics. An extended time of that sort of sports talk, with some relief from NFL offseason news, started in the second week of March and nobody knows how long it will last.
“I can candidly tell you I am glad that I am not hosting a sports radio show right now. I wish others well,” said Glenn, who won the National Sports Media Association’s North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year award in 2019 (shared with the Carolina Hurricanes’ John Forslund), and won the award in 2013 (shared with East Carolina’s Jeff Charles).
Glenn says that he hasn’t listened to a minute of sports radio in the last month.
“It’s less compelling to me as a listener when there are no games,” Glenn said. “And it was less compelling to me as a host when there were no games.”
Plenty of appreciation from listeners
Since his show ended, he’s heard from numerous fans of the program and colleges he’s covered over the years.
“Somebody from every major university in North Carolina reached out to me to thank me for what I have done for sports in North Carolina over the last 30 years. And that was really cool,” Glenn said. “It’s almost like being a guest at your own funeral. You’re not dead, but this transition inspires people to reach out to you. I got thousands of emails or texts or tweets, 99% of which were incredibly flattering — with people just communicating really personal things about what our radio show meant to them over the years, just really beautiful things. The kinder, more thoughtful part of society rather than the ugly underbelly.”
Out-of-state coaches wishing him well included Virginia’s Tony Bennett and Texas’ Shaka Smart. Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon was among others in the sports world who reached out. He also heard from his first three producers, Eleanor Murray, Jerod Brooks and Hayes Permar.
“I get new emails every day, saying, ‘Where did you go?’ and, ‘How can I find you?,’ ” said Glenn, who still appears as a guest on many sports talk shows, including some airing on his show’s former affiliates.
He’s thankful for the listeners who supported his show and says his bond with them was very different than between a writer and their readers. Listeners had more of a personal connection because they heard him daily, knew about his family — including “the lovely and talented Maria” — and a lot of his life’s journey.
“They really embrace you as a radio personality in a different and more intimate way,” Glenn said. “And, man, that’s just so meaningful to me. The emails that I have received in the last few weeks are as meaningful to me as anything that I have experienced beyond fatherhood and other very personal things.
“If I could travel across the state of North Carolina — under nonpandemic circumstances — and buy a beer for or shake the hand of every loyal listener, I would try to do that. I’m dead serious,” Glenn said.
The last show
Athletes get unexpected tee times when their teams lose earlier than expected. That was the case for Glenn the Friday before the ACC Tournament — in his case, he lost his show. Instead of filling three hours of a radio show five days a week, Glenn has played golf three consecutive weeks. He says that’s a personal record.
As the final hour of that March 6 show ended, Glenn told his listeners that he’d talk to them Monday. But not long after he said those words, he got unexpected words from Curtis Media Group. What he described each Friday as “Margaritaville” was anything but that week.
His ouster not only stunned fans but also his statewide affiliates. The stations weren’t told of the change until that Friday afternoon. For two weeks, Patrick Johnson hosted in that noon–3 p.m. statewide syndicated time slot until the debut of “The Adam Gold Show” on March 23, airing on all of the previous Glenn affiliates except WPEK (ESPN Asheville).
Glenn won’t discuss the specifics of his exit. But the move clearly was a big money-saver for Curtis Media Group since Gold and his producer Alec Campbell are both Capitol Broadcasting Company employees.
Glenn acknowledges that he made good money hosting the show.
“Over more than a decade of syndication, I personally made millions of dollars. Plural,” Glenn said. “And my various partners collectively made a lot more than that.”
Glenn, 52, says he has enough money to retire but has no plans to do so. He will continue to contribute to The ACC Sports Journal, accsports.com and The Athletic.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing for them and working with them,” Glenn said of The Athletic. He turned down a full-time job with the subscription-based sports journalism website when The Athletic Carolina launched in October 2018, and instead became a contributor.
“I have never put myself in a position where more than two-thirds of my income came from the same source,” said Glenn, who noted that he’s never put together a resume or applied for a job.
In the summer of 1991 before starting law school, he was playing baseball and working as a valet at a Tampa, Fla., nightclub. He says this is the first time since then that he’s had a chance to exhale and contemplate his future.
“Since then, I have been a bustle just tackling the next thing,” Glenn said. That included law school, practicing law, several years at The Herald-Sun, and covering the ACC for 34 years with articles in the ACC Sports Journal (he was editor from 1994–2013), numerous major newspapers, magazines and websites. His radio career included stops at WRBZ (850 The Buzz) and WCMC (99.9 The Fan) before starting his syndicated show in 2009.
As ACC Sports Journal’s owner, he sold 49% of it in 2009 to Don Curtis of Curtis Media Group, and then sold Curtis the other 51% in 2015.
With what he calls “the new year” for him (when NFL and ACC camps open) not starting at the earliest until August, he’s using the time to contemplate what else might be ahead for him. His brainstorming about possibilities is focused on August.
Glenn called Vaught the best producer and one of the best co-workers he’s had. Glenn said Vaught wasn’t a “sports radio lifer,” and wanted to move his broadcasting career in other directions.
“It’s funny; given our plan for this summer, I was at peace with the ‘DG Show’ no longer being and was amped up to call games as my primary workload,” Vaught said via email. “But that was assuming there would be sporting events to call as I transition to play-by-play and other things full time.”
The end of the show was harder on Vaught, who planned to leave the show in June. After losing that job, which was full time, his play-by-play gigs — as the voice of USA Baseball, on ACC Network Extra ACC baseball and softball broadcasts, Big South ESPN+ baseball broadcasts, Catawba sports broadcasts and North Carolina FC ESPN+ broadcasts — all disappeared temporarily with the COVID-19 crisis.
I’ve come to love his incredible family. We’ve waxed philosophic to one another over many beers, and he’s become one of my best friends and greatest mentors. We did over a thousand shows together, @DavidGlennShow, and it was the loveliest of cruises. Cheers. 🍻 pic.twitter.com/tUypW4E3OA
— Daron Vaught (@DaronVaught) March 7, 2020
Slowly contemplating what’s next
“I was planning on a transition this summer,” Glenn said. “And that could have meant somebody else syndicating the show. So, I had talked to others about syndicating the show. But they were among those who talked about the changing nature of the industry.”
Glenn discovered that many of his partners in sports radio were painting a bleak picture for terrestrial radio, with ratings and ad revenue declining because of podcasts, satellite radio and other options.
That meant that Glenn likely would have to take a huge pay cut with a part-time producer or an even greater pay cut to get a full-time producer.
“I have an offer to be an instructor at an in-state university and have been contacted to gauge my interest in running for public office,” Glenn said. “I have several law firms that say they have a spot for me if I want to go back to practicing law, which I did for 17 years. I have a couple of opportunities entirely outside of sports that actually would pay me the most money.”
Don’t expect him to become a local sports talk show host. But there are radio possibilities that are in the brainstorming stage although they haven’t led to offers yet. He wouldn’t want to start another show until games are played again.
Part of the problem is that some people who have offered him jobs over the years are in holding patterns during the pandemic.
“I have options in the form of terrestrial syndication, satellite and podcast, and some of them are a combination of those,” Glenn said.
Among the options he’s discussed are a show syndicated in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, an ACC-wide syndicated show and a satellite radio show.
In the meantime, he’s in the right state for many appealing golf options.
Media outlets make many adjustments during pandemic
In a world where there are no games and press conferences are conducted via Zoom, there have been plenty of adjustments for the sports media.
The producers for all of CBC’s sports radio talk shows are all in studio this week, but Gold is the only host who is working from the studio. All other hosts will work from home.
When you gotta kick @kelliboutin out of her home office so you can use a good ol’ fashioned Ethernet cable (through dongles) to the router in order to have a better connection to the radio station. pic.twitter.com/8XDigKzX95
— Joe Ovies (@joeovies) April 1, 2020
WRAL and Spectrum News are the only Triangle television sports teams focused almost totally on sports and still doing sportscasts in the studio. The other two Triangle television outlets — WNCN and WTVD — are taking a different approach, with the sports staffs staying away from their studios.
All those outlets are limiting the number of people who are in the studio at the same time.
— Nicole Hare-Hill (@nicoleharehill) April 1, 2020
At WTVD, sports reporters Bridget Condon and Joe Mazur spend nearly all their time on news stories unless a sports story breaks on the weekend. Mark Armstrong and photographer Charlie Mickens are working together to handle most of the sports reporting but about 30% of their work is on news stories.
— Joe Mazur (@joemazurabc11) March 18, 2020
Among the news stories Armstrong has done were one on neighbors trying to make a kids’ birthday special when parties aren’t happening and another on a guy doing front-porch family portraits to raise money for the food bank.
“I’m mixing in some news stories but also primarily seeking out how the pandemic is affecting the world of sports,” Armstrong said. “We’re doing interviews with the university leaders around here and athletic leaders.”
— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) April 3, 2020
Most of their work is done out of the kitchen at Mickens’ house. WTVD isn’t doing traditional sportscasts, but Armstrong usually does his segment in a sports location such as outside a stadium or arena.
At WRAL, lead sports anchor Chris Lea, Mary Dunlevy and Jared Fialko haven’t focused on news stories.
“The three of us have been on sports since we’ve been able to find sports stories,” Lea said via text. The station’s main sports photographer, Brad Simmons, has temporarily switched to news.
Spectrum News produces the 30-minute “Sports Night” seven nights a week at 10:30.
“With a half-hour show, we definitely are hurting for content,” Mike Topper of Spectrum News, who did one news story on a friend of his who lives in Italy, said via email. “But, again, thankfully management (and the sponsors) like what we do. So, more than anything, we’ve had to get creative.
“I’ve developed a new segment where we ask, ‘Where in the world is sports!?’ and do highlights of an Aussie rules football game or Belarusian Premier League soccer. Kind of a joke, like, ‘Hey guys we know you miss sports … we found some.’ ”
WNCN sportscasts are being done from the home of the sportscaster anchoring on that particular night. One night, Chris Clark did the sportscast from his deck and another night he was in his front yard with a weed trimmer. Alyssa Rae did a sportscast from a room in her house.
— Alyssa Rae (@AlyssaRaeTV) April 1, 2020
“CBS 17 is doing a great job of limiting the number of people who go in and out of the station,” WNCN’s Todd Gibson said via email. “Sports is outside full time. Since there are no sports going on at this time, we are shooting feature stories that pretty much eat up our entire sportscast.”
Gibson said that they tape “Sunday Night Overtime” on Fridays.
On the newspaper side, sports reporters at The News & Observer, The Herald-Sun and The Charlotte Observer have not shifted completely away from sports but have been helping with news stories.
“Andrew Carter would be the closest to full-time news right now so he can deliver those high-impact stories about COVID-19,” Matt Stephens, McClatchy’s senior sports editor for North Carolina, said via text. “It’s been more of how much news reporting is needed at any given day in Charlotte and Raleigh. In Raleigh, sports reporters are more actively writing news stories, then popping in for breaking news, features or virtual press conferences when they’re warranted. In Charlotte, Langston Wertz and Rick Bonnell are rotating two-week news shifts.”
DeCock earns first place APSE honor
Columnist Luke DeCock of The N&O won an Associated Press Sports Editors first-place award in category B for breaking news. The honor was for his story on Nike executives going to Durham quickly after Zion Williamson’s shoe tore apart during Duke’s game with North Carolina. There were 60 stories entered.
The top 10 in each category were announced in February, with the first-place winners announced late last month. APSE divides member outlets into four groups with an equal number of outlets. Outlets in category B are in the second-largest group.
Former Charlotte Observer sports writer Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star won first place in Category B for column writing. It was the third time he’s won it since joining the Star in 2014.
The awards ceremony is scheduled to take place June 27 in Indianapolis.
Furloughs hit some newspaper chains
Lee Enterprises and Gannett, two newspaper chains that collectively own 19 daily North Carolina newspapers, have implemented furloughs that will create financial challenges for staff members.
Whether it is because of financial difficulties associated with the COVID-19 crisis and the continued loss of advertising revenue or chains just seeing the pandemic as an excuse to save money isn’t clear.
Lee owns the News & Record of Greensboro and the Winston-Salem Journal, as well as newspapers in Hickory, Concord, Mooresville, Morganton and Statesville. It has cut executive pay 20% and other employees are subject to either pay reduction or a furlough equivalent to two weeks of salary in the third quarter.
Gannett owns The Fayetteville Observer and the Times-News of Burlington, as well as newspapers in Wilmington, New Bern, Asheboro, Jacksonville, Lexington, Kinston, Gastonia, Shelby, Asheville and Hendersonville. Pay is being cut for anybody making more than $38,000 and staffers must take a one-week furlough per month in April, May and June.
While on furlough, writers aren’t paid and aren’t permitted to do any work, even if there is a big story on their beat. At some chains, if there is evidence of any work on a certain week, that person must take another furlough week.
Charlotte radio station hit with layoffs, furloughs
On Thursday, Entercom announced nationwide layoffs and pay cuts at its radio stations, including WFNZ, its all-sports station in Charlotte.
More than a dozen were affected either by pay cuts or layoffs. While ratings have been good at the station, with afternoon drive-time host Kyle Bailey putting up the highest ratings in that slot since Mark Packer left, ad revenue has dropped during the pandemic.
Unfortunately, I was a part of the Entercom layoffs. It was a pleasure to work at WFNZ in the city that I love. Charlotte is home. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I have some Hop Drop & a liver that’s ready to be abused. To my supporters, I love ya. To my haters, you win this round.
— Julian Council (@JulianCouncil) April 2, 2020
Host salaries were cut 10%–20%, others were furloughed and executive producers Julian Council, an Elon grad, and Ryan Chell were laid off. Late last month, the contract for longtime program director Tony DiGiacomo wasn’t renewed, according to The Charlotte Observer.
So…my position was eliminated today.
Just wanted to say that I enjoyed every second at WFNZ & I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I appreciate each and every one of you for making work fun each and every day and sharing in this journey with me.
All I can say is “Thank You.”
— Ryan Chell (@RecSpecsRyan) April 2, 2020
Journalists on the move
— Former Fayetteville Observer sports writer David Teel, who took a Tribune Company buyout and left the Daily Press of Newport News and Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk in February, became a full-time columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch late last month. Before then, he was a temporary special correspondent with the T-D in a deal that originally was supposed to last until the end of the NCAA tournament.
— UNC graduate Michael Lananna, who had been a freelancer since leaving Baseball America in October 2018, has joined The State of Columbia, S.C., to cover South Carolina athletics. The former sports editor of The Daily Tar Heel was a national writer for BA for nearly four years. The State is in The McClatchy Company chain along with the newspapers in Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte.
— Last month, The Athletic didn’t renew its freelance contract with Patrick Stevens, whose freelance work frequently has appeared in The N&O over the years and is one of the experts at predicting the NCAA tournament bracket. He covers mainly D.C.-area sports and is one of the top lacrosse writers in the country. He still writes for US Lacrosse Magazine and The Washington Post.
Readers of The Athletic rank Canes TV broadcast No. 1
The Athletic asked readers to rate the best television broadcast teams in the National Hockey League and the Fox Sports Carolinas broadcast for Carolina Hurricanes games came in No. 1.
According to the story, “No NHL broadcast, national or regional, is universally loved. Carolina comes closer than any of the others.”
The broadcasts, of course, feature play-by-play man Forslund, the reigning two-time National Sports Media Association North Carolina sportscaster of the year, color analyst Tripp Tracy and sideline reporter/host Mike Maniscalco.
Earlier sports media columns spotlighted Paul Hemming, who directs the broadcasts, and Maniscalco.
North Carolina-related sports stories of note
Former Wake Forest coach Carl Tacy, who died last week, was misunderstood and underappreciated, wrote Ed Hardin in the News & Record. Tacy was no fan of recruiting. He knew the recruiting of one player would be tough when he drove up to find that Maryland coach Lefty Driesell was washing the car owned by the recruit’s family.
In The N&O and Herald-Sun, Andrew Carter wrote about the 30-0 Westover High School boys basketball team. The Fayetteville team was one win away from a state title but has gone through many emotions as it becomes increasingly apparent that the state 3-A championship game likely won’t be played.
The Athletic introduced its inaugural North Carolina Hall of Fame, and it was headed by two guys named Mike.
A North State Journal project selects the top athlete in each of the 100 North Carolina counties.
Any fan of “Bull Durham” will enjoy Bill Shea’s story in The Athletic. He got lots of interesting details from Ron Shelton, the movie’s writer. Find out why the Susan Sontag reference was only added at the last minute.
Former UNC star Rasheed Wallace turned down bigger coaching opportunities to coach the boys team at Jordan High School in Durham. In The N&O/H-S, Jonas Pope IV wrote about why and looked at how his first season with the Falcons went. They needed him as much as he needed them.