Sunday, April 2, 2017

HB2 in the Rearview Mirror

Beset by deadlock, then deadline, our legislative leaders and Governor finally arrived at a compromise solution for the HB2 controversy last Thursday. I'm grateful for that, and hopefully, the Bulls will be hosting the ACC Baseball Championship in May 2018. 

I'm keenly aware that the compromise is imperfect, that LGBTQ North Carolinians still need and deserve protection against discrimination. Maybe the courts will move that forward more quickly than the General Assembly. 

Meanwhile, the new law (HB142) represents progress. We have ended the bathroom/birth certificate nonsense, a terrible precedent and outright insult. And we have rolled back the horrible legislative inference that transgender people are sexual predators. That must count for something, something significant. 

NC's economic engine was stalled by HB2. Now, we can get on with repairing our reputation through business development work and sports tourism promotion at the Durham Chamber of Commerce and Durham's Sports Commission. 

We will continue to advocate for equal protection under the law for everyone in our community. We will promote and celebrate diversity in the Bull City. It's a workforce asset; it's a civic virtue.

And everyone is welcome at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

HB2 - Time's a wastin'

I wish there was breaking news from Jones Street about an HB2 compromise...and repeal. We are running out of time. 

The NCAA, maybe the ACC, could soon extend the boycott of NC as a host for championship events. This time the ban will last for more than a year. 

Various NCAA committees are meeting (now!) and in April they will report out their championship city recommendations for each sport for the next six years. If the LGBT discrimination issue isn't resolved by our lawmakers, the NC ban will continue into the next decade. 

Durham still has a contract for the 2018 ACC Baseball Championship, but it's teetering. 

Background: Durham made a four year commitment to host the ACC Baseball Championship - hoping to become its permanent home. We hosted in 2015 and 2016. Then, the 2017 event was pulled because of HB2, at the behest of the ACC university presidents. It will be played in Louisville this spring.

Impact: In May, our hotels won't post that 25% spike in revenue from 3000 room nights, and our downtown restaurants will miss the 15% increase in business. At the ballpark, 200 seasonal employees will lose a full week's worth of work. And we forfeit the exposure of the national cable broadcast, 200 visiting sports media representatives, and most important, the economic activity generated by 60-70 thousand fans converging on downtown Durham and the DBAP. 

Adding insult to injury: If the Legislature doesn't find a compromise in the next few weeks, the ACC could relocate the 2018 tournament, I've heard that several FL cities would be glad to host it. And the damage to Durham will be doubled. 

These facts far outweigh the emotion that got us into this misguided mess. The North Carolina brand is tarnished, the travel and tourism sector is taking a hit, and so are parking attendants, cooks and housekeepers. 

Durham is a community that celebrates diversity. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park, bastion of family entertainment and our National Pastime, doesn't even fall under the purview of the bathroom bill. How did the Bull City become a victim of this political tug of war?!? Memo to Jones Street: It's time to put this behind us. Fix it, please!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

As Seen on TV

I am proud to report that Bulls patrons are the demographic gold standard among Triangle consumers. A typical fan family is 35-54, 1-2 kids at home, $100K earners, with college + post grad degree. (Scarborough)

We aggregate their eyeballs for our sponsors within the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, paid attendance averaging 545,000 over the past three seasons. That's competitive with other sports teams in the region: Panthers/590K, Hurricanes/500K, UNC/595K (football + men's hoops)

Because we are in the business of family entertainment, our crowd is almost 50-50 male/female. Precisely, it's 53% male, 47% female.

Those gender stats have generated a couple of marketing epiphanies:
...that our marketing is best aimed at "Mom." She may not be the baseball fan in the family, but she casts the deciding vote on family activities. 
...families are maddeningly busy!!!

And that brings me to our current television campaign, promoting mini-plans. Our Family Plan is nine games (about two per month) on dollar hot dog night, with give-away items included, for $76.50 per seat. This is a meaningful way to prioritize and schedule quality time for your family.

Join us at the DBAP! a ballgame ...visit the playground ...catch a foul ball ...get an autograph at the dugout ...get a hug from Wool E. Bull a hot dog ...and some nachos and a funnel cake and some frozen custard. Indulge your family. Make family memories. With a FAMILY PLAN. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sports Station Propagation

We have launched yet another sports channel, 95.7 FM, The Ticket

It's the home of Dan Patrick, Jim Rome, Appalachian State University sports and NASCAR. If you live in Raleigh, add this to your car radio pre-sets. 

Read more on the Capitol Broadcasting Co. website.

95.7 FM is the sister station to WCLY, 1550 AM. Located south of downtown Raleigh, WCLY has been accident prone. Its tower was felled by a tornado in 2011 and replaced once again in 2016 after a construction mishap. 

We gave the station a makeover with The Ticket rebranding and added FM coverage in metro Raleigh.

Installing the 95.7 antenna on Capitol's Western Blvd. tower.
Photo from the TV5 drone.

While it can be confusing, The Ticket's programming is now available to your ears on AM, FM and the Internet.

AM... 1550
FM...  95.7
FM HD... 99.3 HD3
Online at & the WSF app

Monday, January 23, 2017

Watching the Radio

Do not attempt this in you car, but you have my permission to try it at work - watching the radio. We are streaming video of our local sports radio talk shows - live from the Highwoods studio - to your phone and television.

On the wralSPORTSfan app, locate the "live" button in the upper right-hand corner. In the morning, you'll find The Sports Shop from Buzz Sports Radio, and in the afternoon it's Adam and Joe from 99.9 The Fan.

Tap the LIVE button for a video feed
from our radio studio.

I'm hard at work "watching the radio" on my phone
as Adam Gold interviews Coach Steve Logan.

On your TV, WRAL has an app for Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire. Our sports programs have been added to that service. Thanks to Santa Claus, this is what it looks like on my new Apple TV...

On the WRAL app, click on "live" for the radio shows. Joe "HD" Ovies will fill your screen...and fill your ear!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

!!! Happy New Year !!!

I've been in holiday hibernation mode - too much snacking and napping - but it's back-to-work now at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Opening Day is a mere 95 days away. (Monday, April 10th, vs. Charlotte Knights) 

Wintertime baseball begins on February 24th when Duke has it's first home series with Army on Goodmon Field. So, baseball is really just 50 days away!

Still, looking back on 2016 is a worthwhile distraction. Our Communications Director Matt Sutor compiled a Top 10 list. Stroll down Memory Lane w/Matt...

Of course, I have my own list...gotta have the last word...

2016 community projects: 
  • The work of Durham's Local Organizing Committee for the ACC Baseball Championship in May led by Casey Steinbacher and Bill Kalkhof.
  • Our sponsorship of the Jackie Robinson documentary by Ken Burns on WUNC-TV.
  • A partnership with The Museum of Durham History on its vintage baseball card exhibit.
  • Formation of the Durham Sports Commission.

 Always tweaking the ballpark:
  • We completed a new clubhouse for Duke's baseball team.
  • Expanded our protective netting.
  • Built the Delta Playground 42 game area on Jackie's Landing.

 Beyond the ball yard:
  • WRAL TV5 covered the Rays' historic MLB game in Cuba and the July 3rd Ft. Bragg game between the Braves and Marlins.
  • Here in the front office, we assisted with Fayetteville's work to land a Minor League team.

 Personal favorites:
  • We were so proud of Bulls broadcaster Patrick Kinas, tapped to work the Rio Olympics.
  • Durham police officers dancing on our diamond.
  • The giant Angus Barn steak sandwich and new summertime ice cream floats.

 A final reflection: 

Twenty seasons ago, the Bulls jumped from Class A Advanced in the Carolina League to Triple A International League baseball. It was a true game changer, another tipping point for our organization and downtown Durham. We will celebrate that anniversary - the ball club's 1998 affiliation with the Tampa Bay Rays - throughout the 2017 season. Join us!

Saturday, December 17, 2016


I have a vocational fascination with the WakeyLeaks brouhaha…where a radio football analyst at WFU is accused of sharing football strategy with opponents.

Radio play-by-play has been a constant in my career. My first job: studio tech for Virginia Squires basketball games at a Richmond radio station. And that morphed into broadcast management spanning college, NFL, NHL, NASCAR and Minor League Baseball. 

40+ years of play-by-play (and lap-by-lap). Nothing resembling the Wake Forest story has ever occurred. The breach of trust is unprecedented. I'm not being overly dramatic. 

The radio broadcast crew is embedded with the team they cover. They are with the players and coaches day in, day out. Unlike TV announcers, who typically fly in for the game, the radio guys are insiders, often traveling with the team. They are privy to confidential information. It informs their perspective. They don't function with the freedom of reporters/journalists. Loyalty and discretion is owed the team they cover. In that department, Wake suffered an epic fail. 

~  ~  ~  ~

PxP: In my opinion, radio play-by-play is an art form. The best announcers, painting pictures with their words, place the listener in the stadium or arena. The color commentator, usually a former athlete, offers unique insight. It's a specialized skill set. And I fear it's taken for granted now that almost every game is on television.

It's been a privilege to work with Bob Harris, retiring after this season as the voice of the Blue Devils. You're crystal clear on Bob's loyalty to Duke University. And the indefatigable Chuck Kaiton, Hall of Fame broadcaster for the Carolina Hurricanes, his cadence can exceed the velocity of a hockey puck. At the Bulls we have Patrick Kinas behind the mic, renowned for his preparation and versatility. Bulls baseball, high school championships, women's hoops - even the Rio Olympics - are on his resume.

Gary Hahn, Tony Haynes and Johnny Evans of the Wolfpack radio network top my list. They had my undivided attention for the NC State-UNC game. Driving to Virginia on the Friday after a Thanksgiving, I began with the broadcast on MIX 101.5, switched to the Triad affiliate, and in the Virginia mountains, I listened to the stream on my phone via On that 200 mile trip from Raleigh to Blacksburg, it seemed like we were in Chapel Hill for the Pack's victory.