For those of you in the Raleigh/Durham area, the local sports radio landscape is set to change on Monday with the disappearance of 850 the Buzz. A few months back, Capitol Broadcasting which owns WRAL-TV, 101.5 FM and 99.9 The Fan made a move to purchase 620 AM WDNC from Curtis Media which also owns 680 AM WPTF. Curtis also bought 850 AM WRBZ which was owned by McClatchey Broadcasting. This shakeup basically ended the two sports talk stations scenario and consolidated everything under one company, Capitol. On Monday morning, 620 the Buzz will begin broadcasting with Adam Gold and Joe Ovies taking their morning show over there. David Glenn will be heard on 99.9 from 12-3 every day. The rest of the Buzz/Bull personalities were apparently dismissed including Bomani Jones and long time local radio man Tony Riggsbee.
One rather significant casualty in all of this is the 850 the Buzz Blog, which Joe Ovies started around four years ago. While no official reason was ever given for its demise, one can only assume the management at Capitol wanted to house everything on the WRAL Sports Fan website so the Thee Blog, as it came to be known, was axed. A little known secret about the origins of this blog is that my participation on the 850 blog gave me the inclination to start THF. Over the intervening years I developed interactions with the guys at 850 both through the blog and twice made on-air appearances. I also credit my appearance on the 850 the Buzz blogroll(along with ACC Now) and their timely linking of things I wrote as the primary driver of traffic in the early days.
The 850 the Buzz Blog was basically a local version of Deadspin handled with a modicum of journalistic integrity and sans the gratuitous use of the F-bomb. Joe Ovies did an outstanding job bringing humor, calling out local players and coaches alike and needling the respective fan bases on a regular basis. Ovies did his job so well that he has basically been accused of hating Duke, NCSU and UNC all at the same time. In short it was a steady stream of great content and a nice framing of the local sports stories. The regular readers in the comments section were not too dissimilar from what we see here at THF. Many UNC fans frequented that blog and this one as well. By and large the discussions were level headed and thoughtful. The level of flaming and general rivalry trash talking picked up here and there. However, Ovies followed a model similar to the one I follow here which is to keep the trolls out by not even approving their comments to begin with.
At the end of the day, the loss of Thee Blog is a shame. While Joe Ovies will surely be a part of the WRAL Sports Fan site, it is difficult to see a community of readers simply die. Thee Blog was a little like the United Nations. It was completely neutral and fans of all stripes from among the local schools congregated there to debate their respective teams. In a day and age of anonymous internet postings where it is very easy to be a keyboard commando or spout ignorant garbage for the world to read, the community at Thee Blog kept that kind of stuff to a minimum. Most of the readers were smart and understood not only the details and history of their own team but the other local teams as well. It made for some interesting discussions. I, for one, will miss it.
So to Joe Ovies and the now defunct 850 the Buzz Blog, I salute you.