Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday Hoops

The 41st Holiday Invitational Tournament is underway in Raleigh. The boys (20 teams) are playing at Broughton HS in Raleigh and the girls (8 squads) are encamped at Cary Academy through Saturday.

After four decades this has become one of the top prep tourneys in the country, and local ACC fans turn out to watch Duke, Carolina and NCSU recruits on the hardwood. The atmosphere is electric for the evening games in a jam-packed Holiday Gymnasium at Broughton.

Friday night in the Broughton HS gym. Photo by Bryan Hanks, tournament media coordinator.
Back in October MaxPreps/CBS Sports named the Holiday Invitational a MUST SEE prep tournament. 

Everything you could possibly want to know, from brackets to blogging, from game stories to video clips, can be found at our website. 

As Capitol Broadcasting Co. assumes the event's title sponsorship, I want to publicly thank PNC Bank and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC for signing on as advertisers. They appreciate prep sports as a grassroots proposition - kids playing sports, families, their schools and neighborhoods. And this tournament is a significant holiday event in our community that generates $50K in college scholarships each spring. We're all proud to play our part! See ya in the gym...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Talkers at 99.9 The Fan

The sports radio business is exploding! CBS and NBC are rolling out radio networks in the new year to rival "the mothership" ESPN. Fox and Yahoo! are in the business, too.

Even though we have these national brands in the space, the best sports talk radio is LOCAL. And I proudly report that our own Adam Gold and Joe Ovies, heard from 3-7pm weekdays on 99.9 The Fan, have been named among the Top Thirty Local Sports Talkers in the country. The honor comes from Radio Ink magazine in its current issue.

Adam and Joe weighed in at #26 between stations in Tucson and Omaha. They are celebrating with Santa...

Faces made for radio: (from left) Adam, Santa, Joe 
and their producer, Shannon Penn. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Season's Greetings from Tobacco Town

Way far back in the dark ages (30-40 years ago) two gigantic tobacco companies were rollin' two major cigarette brands in the Bull City - Lucky Strikes and Chesterfields.

Today, it's hard to believe these holiday magazine ads were ever considered legit marketing. 

The old tobacco ads with Hollywood leading man Ronald Reagan were dredged up during his presidency, but I did not realize that Santa Claus had been so terribly compromised.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sports Radio Growth Curve

The Raleigh-Durham radio market is ranked 42nd in the country, but 99.9 The Fan is in the Top Ten among sports stations in the U.S.

Capitol Broadcasting Co.'s sports-talk FM is tied for ninth place with stations in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Take a look at the list of October Arbitron ratings - researched by Clay Travis for the Outkick the Coverage website.

Even though our community's only major league sport is on hold due to NHL labor-management strife, college sports sustains us. The Triangle is unique in that regard with NC State, UNC and Duke within its boundaries. (And it's getting even better now that NC Central has moved up to Division I.)

I compiled these stats a few seasons ago, but they remain relevant:
  • 72,000 students are enrolled at the three ACC universities in our market. 
  • The schools employ more than 80,000 citizens.
  • Fold in the local membership of booster clubs and alumni associations and more than a quarter million people maintain strong ties to one of the three universities. 
  • More than 1.7 million people attend a college sports event in the Triangle annually. 
Regarding the last factoid, that's like recruiting a mid-tier NFL, NBA and MLS franchise to Raleigh-Durham! This is a great market for sports, and its energy comes from college sports.

Still, I wish the NHL player lock-out would end this month. I recommend our talk show host Mike Maniscalco's blog on the subject.

Friday, November 16, 2012


As basketball season tips off, a couple of our baseball friends landed a plumb hoops assignment.

NC State has started the season in Puerto Rico beating Penn State in a Thursday game and UMass on Friday. (That #6 ranking is for real!)

The Wolfpack radio broadcasters are Patrick Kinas of the Bulls and Neil Solondz of the Tampa Bay Rays. Neil was the voice of the Bulls until he was "called up" for 2012. In addition to 144 Bulls baseball broadcasts, Patrick is the radio voice of NCSU Women's Basketball in the winter. Read his Caribbean blog post at

Listen to them on Sunday (MIX 101.5) as NCSU plays in the title game against Oklahoma State, 6:30 PM.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Living on the cars...with friends...

My very first blog post in 2008 was about Project Homeless Connect. It's a safe bet that I will write about it again because the challenge of homelessness persists.

The DBAP gates were opened to the homeless and those at risk of living on the streets October 11th. 270 social service and health professionals connected with about 281 people in need of services - medical, food, housing, employment. Hair cuts were available, and veterinarians were on hand to assist with the most loyal of pets. The Bulls' concessions company, Centerplate, with an assist from the Interfaith Food Shuttle, provided a hot meal for everyone.

A noteworthy feature of this event is the high level of volunteerism. 205 folks helped out. There's lots of one-on-one attention, an attempt to make this a personal encounter rather than standing in a long line for help. (The stats come from Matthew Schnars at the City of Durham's Community Development Dept. He ably organized PHC.) 

Read the Herald-Sun editorial:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Birthday! 99.9 The Fan

99.9 The Fan is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Capitol Broadcasting Co. premiered the Triangle's first FM sports station in October 2007. 

We've packed a lot into five years: Affiliating with the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, the NFL Panthers and ESPN Radio. Acquiring 620 The Buzz and 1550 ESPN Deportes. Adding digital HD Radio channels for each station, including an HD-only station, The Ticket. Streaming all of this to your computer/tablet/phone. Creating, and the wralSPORTSfan app for your smartphone. A new, taller tower and a more powerful transmitter. I'm out of breath... 

Our current focus is high school sports as we tweak the website, present the Holiday Invitational hoops tourney and partner with the Cap 8 Conference. 

Behind the mic (from left) Mike Maniscalco, Joe Ovies, 
Mark Thomas & Chris Morris
Wizards behind the curtain (from left) GM Brian Maloney
& Director of Operations/Programming, Jason Dixon 
Our team has transformed sports-talk radio from a niche format on the AM band (that generally appealed to an older male audience) to a robust sports information and entertainment platform. It's an engaging marketing channel that connects with men of all ages. In other words, it's a great medium for reaching men when they are actually paying attention. My wife would tell you that is quite remarkable!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fan Fest & Food Pantry

The DBAP field will soon be off limits as fall/winter turf renovation begins. Saturday's Fan Fest was an end-of-season opportunity for Bulls fans to take BP or play catch on our lawn. 

About 700 people turned out on a beautiful fall afternoon. The price of admission was three cans of food, and we delivered a van load of canned goods to the Durham Rescue Mission on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Rays infielder Elliot Johnson - a part-time Bull City resident - was in town. He signed autographs in the home clubhouse.

Neil Offen of the Herald-Sun was at the ballpark, and I grabbed these fan shots from Instagram...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Continuing Ed & Baseball

You might be surprised to learn that Minor League Baseball has a continuing education requirement. A team owner's representative and the club's GM are required to attend Minor League Baseball University at MiLB HQ in St. Petersburg FL. I attended last week. (You might be surprised to learn that I graduated!)

I have a new appreciation for our league office; it's formally known as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. The Major League offices - MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL - are regularly in the sports headlines, and those associations are a mere 30-33 teams each. Minor League Baseball is comprised of 19 leagues and 240 teams. Maintaining order among those independently owned entities in North America, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic is a serious undertaking.

The New Era Cap Wall at MiLB HQ
The very best cap and logo!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Celebration of Suds

Wes Platt of the Herald-Sun gets credit for that headline. It's from his weekend story on the World Beer Festival at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. A total of 8,000 people - clutching their 2 oz. tasting cups - had an opportunity to sample 300 beers at the afternoon and evening sessions on Saturday.

CNN Travel posted an article on fall beer festivals a couple of weeks ago. Durham made their list of seven U.S. events worthy of Octoberfest in Munich; the others: St. Petersburg, Louisville, Denver, Austin, Pottsville (the PA home of Yuengling) and New Orleans.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wolfpack Legends

I’m a member of Wolfpack Nation and readily confess that haute cuisine, among the NC State faithful, is a pig pickin’.

That stereotype was turned on its ear Friday evening as State established a Hall of Fame for Pack athletics. The inaugural class of the Wolfpack HOF was introduced at a Reynolds Coliseum gala. 

The ancient arena was transformed with portable air conditioning, sequined table cloths, giant video screens, Klieg lights and performance art. It was a grand affair…and I did find a chafing dish of ‘cue. It paired well with the champagne!

Hoops legends Jim Valvano, Kay Yow and Everett Case were posthumous inductees. Click here for more on the NCSU HOF from

Master of Ceremonies: TV5 sports anchor Jeff Gravley
Batter up! Mannequin or human?
Living legend, Roman Gabriel, of the NFL & Wolfpack

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Championship Evening for Reno NV...& Durham NC

It's truly remarkable - a blessing - that we got the game in yesterday. The rain stopped just in time for the big event, but it was sprinkling in the 7th and pouring in the 9th. 

The Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) of the Pacific Coast League beat the International League Pawtucket Red Sox 10-3 before a national TV audience on the NBC Sports Network. 

The Triple-A National Championship trophy presentation was a bit soggy, and I watched fireworks in the rain - a first! Still, I am glad we tackled this three-day event...tremendously proud of our staff...pleased with Bull City hospitality...and really, really glad it's over!

It was a late-summer game under the lights with meaning. Daytime storms had left the air cool and the freshly cut grass glistening - the DBAP crew and Bulls staff brought their "A" game. And two visiting teams were treated as if they were at home...

Thank you, Aaron Schoonmaker, for posting those kind words on Click here for his story and a slideshow by Will Bratton.

American Idol Scotty McCreery takes the ceremonial first pitch very seriously.

More on the 2012 Gildan Triple-A National Championship...

BLACKJACK! ACES GO WILD - from the Durham Herald-Sun

...and here's a wonderful story from the News & Observer about champions in the stands. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Upon the Hallowed Hardwood

We're here to play a baseball game, but college hoops ruled last night at the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Gala. The venue: Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke University's Athletic Department was a most gracious host, and the "host with the most" was Coach K. Indeed, he's an expert on the topic of championships. CLICK HERE for a motivational clip from from Coach K's pre-game talk.

 Randy Mobley, President, International League | Branch Rickey, President, Pacific Coast League 
Bucky Dent, Manager, Reno Aces | Coach K | Pat O'Conner, CEO, MiLB 
Arnie Beyeler, Manager, Pawtucket Red Sox (left-to-right)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Up Next: Game Day

I had the pleasure of dining with the television announcers last night, George Grande and Jim Kaat. We introduced them to Durham and the American Tobacco Campus at the Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. I believe we made a good impression, and I was certainly impressed with the dinner conversation. These guys are great story tellers! 

Kaat pitched in the Majors from 1959-83, won 16 Gold Gloves and has been broadcasting for over two decades. It seems to me that he remembers absolutely everyone he played with or against, every game and everything that has happened during his rich career. Grande was one of the first ESPN anchors and has done play-by-play for the Yankees, Cardinals and Reds. We were in the company of baseball broadcasting royalty!

Mandy Mitchell at TV5 Sports posted a blog about the game. She will join Grande and Kaat on the air Tuesday night. And here's our latest news release:


Triple-A Champion To Be Crowned In Nationally Televised Showdown At The DBAP

 DURHAM, NC – The matchup for the 2012 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game has been set. After sealing victories in their respective league championship series, the Pawtucket Red Sox and Reno Aces will square off in the one-game, winner-take-all Triple-A final at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday, September 18th. The game will be televised live at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Network, with veteran broadcaster George Grande handling play-by-play duties alongside longtime Major League pitcher Jim Kaat.

The 2012 International League Champions are the Pawtucket Red Sox, top affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Pawtucket took home their first Governor’s Cup since 1984 by sweeping the Charlotte Knights in the IL Finals. After securing the IL Wild Card berth with a 79-65 regular season record, the PawSox knocked off their chief rival in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees to advance in the first round.

The Reno Aces will represent the Pacific Coast League in Tuesday’s Triple-A National Championship Game. After dispatching Sacramento in the first round of the playoffs, Reno topped the Omaha Storm Chasers in the PCL Finals to claim the league’s crown. Led by manager Brett Butler and 2011’s third overall draft pick RHP Trevor Bauer, the Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate finished the 2012 regular season with an 81-63 record to win the PCL Pacific North Division title. The Aces will serve as the home team during the game, as the Pacific Coast League won this year’s Triple-A All-Star Game in Buffalo, NY.

Country music superstar and American Idol Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery will headline the National Championship Game festivities, as the Garner, NC native will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and perform “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th Inning Stretch.

Tickets for the 2012 Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on September 18th are available online at, by phone at 919.956.BULL, or in person at the DBAP ticket office.

The TV production truck rolled in Monday afternoon.
(I sacrificed my parking space.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Video Briefing

Scott Carter, Bulls' chief publicist, provides an update for WRAL TV5 viewers on the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. CLICK HERE

Friday Fotos

It's been crazy around the DBAP as we prepare for the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game next Tuesday. The Bulls, the American Tobacco Campus and the City of Durham are putting their best foot forward...or best feet forward.

The Batter's Eye was manicured today & the field is beautiful.

New signs installed: Our presenting sponsor
has a major marketing presence.

The City of Durham paves the intersection
at Blackwell St. & Jackie Robinson Dr.

Fresh mulch and trimming the shrubs.

And when you come to the game Tuesday,
you will notice the Diamond View III
office building in left field is out of the ground.
Steel erection is underway.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Post 50 Goes to College

I have to brag on our Explorer Post 50 scholarship recipients...

In cooperation with Fox50 TV, the Bulls sponsor an Exploring program (through the Occoneechee Council, Boy Scouts of America) that provides training to about 75 young people in television broadcasting. This group of students, most of them in high school, produce the Bulls' in-house video, televised games and webcasts. Amazing program! Amazing kids! 

We awarded six $1,000 tuition grants last month as the 2012 season was winding down...and our Post 50 members were heading off to college for the fall semester. Here's a list of winners from the scholarship competition administered by the Triangle Community Foundation. Check out the GPAs and their plans for matriculation. (Did I use that word correctly?) 

Chris Lehman - This is Chris’s second season with the Post. He graduated from Leesville Road High School in 2012, now attending North Carolina State University, studying Communications with a concentration in Communications Media.

Blake Stafford - In her fourth season with the Post, Blake graduated Durham Academy in 2012, studying Communications and Political Science at Furman University.

Susannah Roberson - This is Susannah’s first season with the Post. She is a graduate of Riverside High School with a 4.9 GPA and is attending Duke University.

Evan Fortman - This is Evan’s sixth season with the Post. He graduated from Jordan High School in 2011 and attends American University in Washington DC studying Business Administration specializing in International Business/Communications.

Katherine Jordan - In her second season with the Post, Katherine is a graduate of Panther Creek High School in 2010 and is attending North Carolina State University, studying Communications/PR.

Kristen DeMaria - This is Kristen’s second season with the Post. She graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School with a 5.0 GPA and is attending Elon University where she will be studying Communications/Journalism.

Left to right: Chris Lehman, Susannah Roberson, Katherine Jordan, Kristen DeMaria

The Post 50 scholarship program is funded by the annual Great American Tobacco Duck Race. If that sounds intriguing, click here for more info.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Gearing Up for the Natl Championship

Bulls GM Mike Birling got some face time on TV5 Thursday as Durham prepares to host the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game September 18th. Click here for the video.

The Bull City's reputation gets a boost from Duke hoops in the winter on ESPN and CBS. Now it's our turn with a baseball showdown on the NBC Sports Network, piped into 75 million homes.

This game has never been played on the east coast, and we look forward to sharing southern hospitality with Triple-A team owners and executives from the 29 other markets that comprise the International and Pacific Coast Leagues. Every club will be represented from Sacramento to Pawtucket, from Tacoma to New Orleans.

Aside from the game, the club representatives are here for league meetings and a 9/17 gala at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. Also, they will tour our region's sports facilities - the Smith Center at UNC, the PNC Arena and the historic Durham Athletic Park. The latter, site of Bull Durham, is a holy shrine in the world of Minor League Baseball!

Join us at the DBAP on September 18th. Dress outrageously, paint a sign (or yourself)...and maybe you will end up on national television!?! Got tickets?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

National Champions & the American Idol

We announced today that Scotty McCreery will throw out the first pitch at the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on September 18th. Even better, he will lead the crowd in singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Big fun! (WRAL TV5 broke the story on Tuesday. I wonder who told them?) 

The country music superstar played baseball at his Garner NC high school. He was a pitcher. This should work out nicely. Click here for ticket info and more details.

Scotty winds up
for the Garner Trojans