Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Big Heart. Big Goal.

Fifteen Triangle professionals are in a pitched battle. It's a fight against blood cancer and a competition to see who can raise the most money for LLS in ten weeks. The male and female winners will be crowned Man and Woman of the Year next month.

We have adopted one of the big hearted combatants. Jennifer Cox, who works for Durham-based Endurance Magazine, is aiming to raise $100,000. Most non-profits request comp tickets or an autographed baseball. Jen thinks big...and outside the box! 

Her Team Believe will be at Friday night's game, entertaining contributors in our suite and promoting her cause throughout the ballpark. From sumo wrestling to the postgame fireworks, it's a DBAP takeover for LLS. Jen's web page.

There's another, equally important facet to all of this. We will recognize the LLS Boy and Girl of the Year for 2015, Mason Brantley and Kaelyn Smith. Both youngsters are in remission from leukemia. Click here to read their stories...and you will understand why we're on board. Join us Friday night at the DBAP!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Two Decades at the DBAP

In 2015 we are celebrating the Durham Bulls Athletic Park's 20th birthday. After two decades it is still known as "the new ballpark" to distinguish this facility from the vintage 1926 Durham Athletic Park. And the DBAP is newer still after a 2014 $25 million make-over.

Indeed, twenty years is a milestone, and it's a very good excuse for a season-long party. The DBAP has been a catalyst for the revival of downtown Durham. The pace of change continues to accelerate. Hence the cliché time flies. Was 1995 really two decades ago?!? I wasn't directly involved with the ball club then, but my assignment for Capitol Broadcasting Co. was to move WDNC radio into the new ballpark. My current office was once the station's studio. The space has been recycled. Me, too!

These before & after photos, posted on our Facebook page last week, tell the #DBAP20 story in a powerful way.

A good read on the DBAP's past and present from Michael Shelton at wralSPORTSfan.com.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Burgers & Bombers

We have created a new company to manage food and beverage services at the DBAP. Bull City Hospitality, a subsidiary of Capitol Broadcasting Co., will run the concessions operation within the ballpark. (Read more about it.)

For the past year we have been working with an industry consultant, Chapel Hill-based Jim Wulforst. It wasn't until last month that I realized what a global perspective he brings to our project.

Jim left us for the entire month of February to visit Air Force bases on behalf of the Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management. It's called the Hennessy/Military Traveler ProgramJim's a former president of the trade group, and this is his second Hennessy tour.

That's Jim on the far right, handing out
Bulls caps at Ramstein AFB in Germany.

The care and feeding of B-2 bomber pilots
at Whiteman AFB in Missouri.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Best MIX of the 80's, 90's & Today

That would be my coworker, Ardie Gregory, who retired last month as VP/GM of MIX 101.5 - after 30 years in the RDU and BWI radio wars. 

She has received woman extraordinaire accolades during her career, but gender is immaterial. Ardie is one of the best in the business. A fierce competitor and a demanding leader, yet her radio stations always had a family feel. 

Ardie trained all divisions of CBC in strategic selling 25 years ago setting a high standard for professional sales that has endured. She is known as a mentor.

In  the community, MIX's Radiothon for Duke Children's Hospital consistently raises $1mm annually, and Ardie has chaired the Inter-faith Food Shuttle board.

Ardie and I were both with companies acquired by CBC in the 1980's. She was in Baltimore; I was in Richmond. I believe we have a unique appreciation for Capitol Broadcasting Co. owing to that foreign service.

Adios and Godspeed in your well deserved retirement, Ardie!

Ardie gets a hug from WRAL TV's David Crabtree
at her retirement luncheon in February.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Coach Smith - Rivalry & Respect

My sports marketing career began in Charlottesville at UVA in the late-70s. That's where I became one of those ABC fans - anybody but Carolina. The UVA-UNC hoops rivalry wasn't as intense as it is here with NC State or Duke...but it was THE Univ of Virginia vs THE Univ of North Carolina, and Wahoo Coach Terry Holland even named his dog Dean Smith. I would say that qualifies as a fierce rivalry. 

In 1991 I moved to RDU and assumed my company's broadcasting affiliations with Duke and NC State. I really put ABC to work!

...but today you might say I'm a recovering ABCer, because I was won over by Dean Smith's progressive faith and politics as well as his generosity. It began in 2003 with the ALS Assn's "Field of Dreams Gala." (I was on the chapter board for a decade.) Smith came to the DBAP to film a public service announcement for the event. He had a strong connection to ALS. It had claimed the life of his friend, Skipper Bowles, another UNC legend. 

Smith attended the 2003-2005 Galas and played in the 2006 Catfish Classic ALS Golf Tournament. Chapter President Jerry Dawson refreshed my memory this week: Coach Smith agreed to let us auction the three other spots in his foursome, and it sold for $5,000 on eBay. He signed many items for us over the years which helped raise funds for the fight. He was a great guy, but I am a little biased because he is one of my heroes! 

It's great to be a legend, even more impressive to end one's life a bonafide hero for accomplishments on and off the court. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hail Fellow Well Met

That greeting, albeit archaic, fits Don Shea who passed away on February 1st. He was Mr. Congeniality! He was equally loyal and generous. Obituary | Jeff Gravley's take: A True Gem Tribute

Don worked with our company for nearly 30 years, at WRAL TV and Wolfpack Sports Marketing - hosting the NC State coaches' shows, selling sponsorships and performing various media duties. He was devoted to the Jim Valvano Kids Klassic and Duke Children's Classic. Indeed, he was a classic. This tribute aired last weekend on the Mark Gottfried NCSU Basketball Show:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Red Carpet Evening at the Ballpark

We ring in the New Year with this bling and a big event in the PNC Triangle Club on January 11th. 

The Bulls were recognized as Sponsor of the Year at the Campaign4Change annual soirée - Community Celebrities on the Red Carpet.

Indeed, we are big supporters of C4C and its’ colorful founder, Otis Lyons, AKA Vegas Don. This may seem atypical of the non-profit realm, but there’s a compelling backstory. 

Otis grew up in poverty, took the wrong path, founded a gang, was shot in the head and went to jail - yet remarkably - he made a U-turn, a fresh and positive start. Now, he’s a promoter of hope in Durham’s poorest neighborhoods. He founded a basketball league where the kids are equipped and play for free. He connects with young people through entertainment programs. Raising their sights. Countering the influence of gangs. Otis rolls up his sleeves at the public housing apartments and senior centers, too. The man has a big heart! 

That's Otis on the right.

Durham sports attorney Butch Williams.

Superior Court Judge Elaine Bushfan 

Bull City Mayor Bill Bell