Media Musings: Sports Radio Shake-up


written by R.L. Bynum

New sports radio shows launch Monday after some unexpected moves

Big sports radio changes in the Triangle and statewide were announced earlier this month, with two new shows to launch Monday.

On March 6, there were two stunning moves and a surprising end for two long-standing, popular shows that each lasted more than 10 years. It’s all insignificant in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that has significantly altered the sports radio topics. 

But the changes are significant in a radio context both in the Triangle and statewide.

The Curtis Media Group had syndicated David Glenn’s statewide show since 2009 but fired the two-time North Carolina sportscaster of the year after he finished what turned out to be his last show on March 6, days before the start of the ACC Tournament. Glenn, who did his show from WPTF’s studios, wasn’t given a chance to say goodbye to his listeners.

Around the time Glenn’s last show ended, the rumored move of longtime sports writer Joe Giglio from The News & Observer to Capitol Broadcasting Company became official. Among the roles for Giglio, whose last day at The N&O was Sunday: co-host with Joe Ovies on a 3–6:00 p.m. weekday drive-time show on WCMC (99.9 The Fan) beginning Monday. All of this means the end of the successful  “Adam & Joe” show.

Also starting on Monday, Adam Gold will host a noon–3 p.m. show that will fill the statewide syndicated spot Glenn vacated. Greenville host Patrick Johnson has been the host in that time slot last week and this week. The “Adam Gold Show” is expected to air on the 11 outlets statewide that aired Glenn’s show and will be syndicated by Curtis Media.

WCMC isn’t doing a big rollout ahead of Monday’s debut of the two shows because of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Alec Campbell, who has produced “Adam & Joe” since December 2015, will produce Gold’s show. Jonathan Rand, who has produced “SportsChannel 8: The Radio Show,” will produce the Ovies/Giglio show, with Dennis Cox producing the 10 a.m.–noon SportsChannel 8 show. Cox will still host “The Best of 99.9 The Fan” weeknights from 6:00–6:30 p.m.

Glenn shared the National Sports Media Association N.C. sportscaster of the year award in 2013 with ECU’s Jeff Charles and shares the 2019 honor with the Carolina Hurricanes’ John Forslund (which would have been awarded in June but with the awards weekend was canceled for this year; he’ll receive the award in 2021). 

Glenn has options but said that he couldn’t yet comment on his exit from the radio show or what’s ahead. The future for Glenn, who has written for The Athletic since November 2018, isn’t expected to include a role as a radio host but he has plenty of options.

When reached by phone, Rick Martinez, Curtis Media’s vice president of information and news, deferred questions to Trip Savery, Curtis Media’s president and COO. Savery and Darren Smith, Curtis Media’s vice president and general manager, didn’t respond to voicemail seeking comment on the changes. 

Dennis Glasgow, WCMC’s program/operations director, is excited about the station’s new lineup.

“It’s not often that you have the unique opportunity to get better when moving an air personality of Adam Gold’s stature to another time slot and also add a sports reporting vet like Joe Giglio to an already established show, so we’re very fortunate. In the end, our listeners are the big winners,” Glasgow said.


Big loss for The N&O

If you listed the top beat writers in The N&O sports department over the years, Giglio would obviously be mentioned. In more than 23 years at the newspaper, he combined terrific writing skills with the ability to work sources and stay on top of his beat with good reporting and a flair for interesting ways to present a story. He never was shy about asking a blunt question, even if it might spark controversy. 

In the old days when the newspapers were doing well financially, writers such as Joe Tiede, A.J. Carr and, more recently, Tim Stephens worked at the newspaper until retirement. 

Giglio said that he never would have left The N&O if these still were the good old days in the newspaper industry. He joined the newspaper as an agate clerk and answered phone calls while he still was an N.C. State student. 

He expected to follow the lead of his dad, who was a school teacher at the same high school for 41 years. His wife Jessaca, who has courageously battled breast cancer,  remains at the newspaper as deputy sports editor.

“When I took a job at The N&O, I just figured that’s what I would do the rest of my life, and even after I met my wife, after we had our kids, I just figured this is what I’ll do,” Joe Giglio said. “And then, obviously, all the changes in our newsroom and you start to realize, OK, now wait a second. Probably would be in our best interest to have one of us get a different job. And it just so happened that it was me. And it worked out the way that it has. So, we’re also very lucky for that.”

Joe Giglio started talking with CBC around mid-February, but said he didn’t know about his radio role until the week before the shortened ACC Tournament. 

“We’re really enthusiastic about the unique perspective that Joe Giglio will bring to our sports coverage,” Rick Gall, WRAL-TV’s news director, said. “His vast knowledge and experience will bolster our reporting efforts. He will serve as a true cross-platform expert, rotating from radio to TV to digital in this specialized role.”

Giglio said that telling N&O/Herald-Sun executive editor Robyn Tomlin of his decision was tough.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for her and what she’s done for the newsroom and for McClatchy,” Giglio said. “The most difficult part was telling her because I am super appreciative of how they treated Jessaca last year. That was a big part of it for me.”

Jessaca Giglio was on leave for an extended period while she went through numerous and extensive treatments. There was a period when Joe Giglio didn’t make road trips with N.C. State so that he could stay home and help Jessaca.

As much as he’ll miss The N&O, he’s excited about doing something different after covering N.C. State sports regularly since 2008, with some time on the UNC beat mixed in.

“It’s hard doing the same thing over and over and over and still trying to be good at it. It can be difficult not to be complacent or even frustrated with it,” Joe Giglio said

He follows the path of the late Caulton Tudor, the longtime columnist who wrote columns for CBC after leaving The N&O. But Tudor didn’t appear on TV and radio nearly as much as Giglio will.

“I’m going to write and I’m going to be on TV. That part of it is pretty exciting,” Giglio said. “I think the best part about this setup is that I told Capitol that I always want to be the best at what I do. That doesn’t mean I am the best at what I do, it just means I want to put myself in a position to be the best at what I do. And in this position, I think they’re giving me that chance by working with Joe, who is a true radio professional. So, it’s not like they’re giving me a show and saying, ‘Here, take over from scratch.’ I don’t see it as pressure at all. I see it as a tremendous opportunity to work with somebody who’s really, really good.”

Giglio’s last day at the newspaper was supposed to fall on one of his favorite days of the year: Selection Sunday. Instead, he appeared on a streaming N&O show with Luke DeCock, Jonas Pope IV and Patrick Stevens as they revealed their NCAA bracket and analyzed it.

“I’ve always said that Joe is the ideal Capitol Broadcasting employee because he does multiple things: he can write, he can go on TV,” Ovies said. “He might have to work on his beard game for TV but he can go on TV. And, obviously, while radio is something he has not done consistently, I think there’s the work ethic. Joe will ramp up and be just fine on the radio. Of course, that’s kind of my job: bringing in somebody that doesn’t know a lot of radio and getting them up to speed, hopefully by football season.”

The end of “Adam & Joe”

In radio, shows don’t generally have sustained success in any market over several years. Even shows that do well often get canceled because of format changes or personnel changes. The breakup of that radio team was something that neither Gold or Ovies saw coming.

“It wasn’t my idea. I mean, I was very happy going along with what was going along,” Gold said. 

Ovies and Gold have worked together in some form for about 20 years. Ovies’ first full-time job after graduating from N.C. State in 2001 was as Gold’s producer in 2002 at WRBZ (850 The Buzz).

Adam Gold will return to hosting solo when he moves to midddays

“When you’ve worked with somebody for the better part of 20 years, there’s going to be a transition and a little bit of weirdness along with it,” Ovies said. “In this situation, we kind of lean on management to guide what they want to do. And I guess, in their opinion, after 10 years of success, maybe it’s time to refresh things. That’s one thing Capitol Broadcasting is really, really good about is that you can kind of keep doing the same old, same old and that’s not going to work for you forever.”

A regular visitor during the last week of the show was WRAL TV anchor David Crabtree, who provided local COVID-19 updates. The cancellation of the NCAA tournament extended the life of the show by two days. The last day of the show would have been Wednesday but was pushed to Friday since WCMC wasn’t airing tournament games Thursday and Friday.

The show started as a morning show to replace “Imus in the Morning,” then shifted to the afternoon drive time shortly afterward early in 2010.

Ovies credits Gold with welcoming a younger host years ago and allowing him to help shape the show when it moved to afternoons on WCMC with its stronger signal.

“We really came into our own as a show with that signal,” Ovies said. “Having kind of grown relationship on the air was already ready-made by the time we went on the afternoons at the Fan.” 

Gold admits that throughout the life of “Adam & Joe,” he rarely socialized with Ovies outside the show except when they went to ACC Tournaments and Final Fours. But their wives and kids know each other, and Gold says part of the reason they didn’t socialize much is that he just never goes out. 

“So many of our realities have been kept separate. Maybe it’s enabled the partnership to extend. Yeah, I’m going to miss working with him,” Gold said.

Their on-air chemistry was obvious.

“There are a ton of mixed feelings about it,” Gold said of the show ending and getting his own show. “One of the best things for my career has been working with Joe. And there are a lot of reasons for it. But if you don’t stay fresh, if you let things that you do stay the same, you’re going to get left behind. And it’s a lesson I learned a long time ago. And Joe has really pushed me and brought me out of my comfort zone and I’m much better for having worked with Joe. And it’s been great. It’s been a great run.”

Radio Gold earlier in the afternoon

After 22 years in the Triangle radio market, Gold goes statewide with the “Adam Gold Show.” The fact that Gold has persevered in the same market in the volatile radio industry shows his ability to evolve and grow.

“Adam has weathered a lot in the market,” Ovies said, challenging the view that they haven’t faced competition, pointing out Taylor Zarzour’s Triangle Sports Talk 1490/1090 venture in the mid-2000s, the original WCMC lineup when they were at WRBZ and the new era of streaming platforms and satellite radio. “What’s been the one constant? It’s been Adam. And that’s, I think, a testament to his ability and understanding of the market, why he’s still here, and why he’s moving to noon to 3.”

Being a solo host won’t be new for Gold. In April 1998, he began co-hosting a WRBZ show with Pat Mellon. By early May, Mellon left and Gold was the sole host. He has a good idea of how his new show will go. 

Listener calls weren’t common on “Adam & Joe.” Gold expects to take some calls on his show but not nearly as many as Glenn took in the same time slot.

“It won’t be a major part of it,” Gold said of calls. “It’ll be part of it. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be fast. Interviews will be short. We will not do any 13–14-minute interviews. If you are in studio with me, that’s different. I don’t consider that an interview. I will probably only have people in studio who are regular contributors to the show. Those will be the only people other than me or who is producing me who are on for longer than eight minutes. Now, are there going to be some occasions where somebody is going to be on longer? There are certain people that merit being on longer.”

The style of the show might not be that different from “Adam & Joe,” just with Gold being the sole host and taking his own direction.

“There will be regular fun benchmark elements stuff that we do, not stuff that we do now, but stuff that will be akin to things that we do now. But it’s going to be fast. It’s not going to be 100% sports. We’ll be looking for other things,” said Gold, who plans to integrate pop culture elements.

Being statewide, Gold said he’ll talk more about East Carolina and Appalachian State football than he did on “Adam & Joe,” but added that they probably should have been doing that anyway given the huge number of fans of those two schools in the Triangle.

“Adam’s been the guy doing this for so long,” Ovies said. “That’s why I don’t think he’s going to have a hard time adapting to being a solo show from noon to three.”

 More than one Joe you know for drive time

Ovies says that his new show with Giglio will have a lot of the same elements as “Adam & Joe,” including the “What’s Trending” segment at the beginning of the 5 o’clock hour.

“It’s not going to be completely different,” Ovies said. “There are certain elements that work and will continue to work. The goal is to keep things rapid-fire.”

There might be a “Hey, Joe” segment playing off what Giglio frequently has done on Twitter by responding to questions with, “Hey, Joe, why did N.C. State …?”

Ovies and Giglio did an entire drive-time show together the week before the N.C. State-Clemson football game in early November. That show was broadcast from the Raleigh Times pub.

“After we got through the whole silly dynamic of the Capitol Broadcasting and The N&O not playing

Joe Ovies is ready to break in a new Joe

nicely, I’ve been driving them like, ‘Let’s get Joe on. Let’s get Joe.’ I think Joe will be good on the radio,” Ovies said of what led to that show last year. “But that’s just a show. The trick is, okay, we just did a show. Guess what, we’ve got to do it again tomorrow. And oftentimes, we’ll be talking about the same topics just in a different way. And you have to keep it moving, make it sound like it’s the first time somebody heard it if they tune in because that listener might not have checked it out on a Monday. They’re tuning in on a Tuesday because that’s the way their schedule broke out and the topic’s still relevant. Okay, so how do we still keep it fresh? That’s a learning curve thing that I’m sure he’ll be able to figure out.”

Giglio has appeared on radio segments for years but understands that there will be a lot for him to learn.

“The idea of somebody paying you to talk about sports has always kind of been appealing,” Giglio said. “It’s a lot harder, just from my own segments that I’ve done. But you realize there’s a lot more that goes into it. I have an appreciation for how good Adam and Joe are. And that’s really the best part about this is that I do get to work with somebody as good as Joe. It’s one thing to think you are being paid to talk about sports. It’s another thing to actually put a radio show together and make it good.”

Anybody who has listened to “Adam & Joe” knows that Gold is more likely to talk about baseball and golf than Ovies. While admitting that he’s not a huge baseball guy, Ovies said it’s important to understand what is schtick and what is real and says they will still talk baseball and golf on the show.

Giglio obviously is knowledgeable about ACC basketball and football, and has covered Carolina Hurricanes games for The Associated Press. But he admits that he’s never been a Carolina Panthers fan.

“I’m going to have to talk about the Panthers and I’ll have to talk about some things that maybe are not my favorite topics,” Giglio said. “But I do feel like during the academic calendar, that would be my strength — State, Carolina, Duke, ACC. That doesn’t necessarily make it different from what they did. I just think obviously Adam and I have different personalities and different kind of focuses in terms of how we report and what we do so. I don’t know if it’ll be dramatically different.”

Lauren Brownlow is expected to be a big part of the show, appearing in studio on Tuesdays and Thursdays even during the summer.

Gold always was the lead host for “Adam & Joe,” but Ovies takes over what is known in radio parlance as the “power chair” for the new show. Because of the dynamic of his show with Gold, it won’t be a dramatic switch for Ovies.

“There are certain elements of the show that we’ve currently done where I’m running the show and that’s another testament to Adam and his ability to be say, ‘OK, let’s do some things a little bit differently,’ ” Ovies said. “It’s not like I haven’t done that job. I’ve been in the power chair before, whether it’s on our own station when Adam’s on vacation or whether it’s been on ESPN Radio national and I fill in on the weekends. They put me in that role of running the show and guiding the conversation.” 

Forslund has come on “Adam & Joe” on game days but Ovies expects future such appearances to happen on Gold’s show.

“That would allow me to present Canes coverage in a different way, incorporating what was the best thing for us,” Ovies said. “What did they get from the locker room earlier that day? Maybe we can bring on a different voice from a different coverage point. Bring on Luke DeCock to get his opinion on whatever the game of the day is, or Sarah Civian of The Athletic. These are all different ways that we can mix things up, make it sound different, even though the topics might be the same.” ———————————————————————————————————————

Duke games drew huge ratings

During the shortened college basketball season, the top two rated games and four of the top eight were Duke games (all on ESPN), according to Sports Media Watch.

The Duke at UNC game on Feb. 8 was No. 1 with 2.67 million viewers, followed by the Nov. 6 Duke-Kansas game at 2.42 million. The March 7 UNC at Duke game was No. 6 at 2.23 million and the Jan. 18 Louisville at Duke game was No. 8 at 2.15 million. None of the non-Duke top-10 games involved ACC teams.

Down UNC season didn’t cost listeners or readers

North Carolina’s men’s basketball season didn’t go well for the Tar Heels but interest in content about the Tar Heels still was there.

In February, Inside Carolina, which covers UNC athletics, produced the highest total revenue of any 247 Sports site in the country, beating out the Alabama site. Pack Pride, which covers N.C. State, was No. 35, and The Devils Den, which covered Duke, was No. 36. Other ACC sites in the top 38 were sites that cover Florida State (No. 14), Notre Dame (No. 16), Miami (No. 28), Clemson (No. 33), Virginia Tech (No. 34) and Louisville (No. 37).  

The Tar Heel Sports Network was the second-most popular Learfield IMG College network in the country for basketball coverage on TuneIn, behind only the Indiana network.

North Carolina-related sports stories of note

In The Athletic, Scott Burnside wrote about Justin Williams’ offseason indecision, his time trying out retirement and his decision to come back and play again for the Carolina Hurricanes.

After Justin Robinson’s big senior-night game against Carolina, Andrew Carter wrote in The N&O and The Herald-Sun about how the son of David Robinson lived out his boyhood fantasy at Duke.

What’s the inspiration for those tattoos you see on Charlotte Hornets’ players? The Athletic’s Roderick Boone talked to a few of them and wrote about the story behind some of the body ink.

Can you imagine a team needing to play the semifinals and the championship game at the Final Four on the same day to win a national championship? In The N&O/H-S, DeCock wrote about a similar scenario as Sandhills Community College won the NJCAA Division III national championship.