Mark Thomas (left) via Twitter
The morning talk radio landscape in the Triangle continues to change with the news that Mark Thomas has left WDNC.
Thomas and Brian Maloney, the general manager for Capital Broadcasting Company’s two all-sports stations, characterized the change as a “mutual decision.”
“Mark is a talented broadcaster and great ambassador,” Maloney said via email.
Thomas, a former tight end at N.C. State, was co-host with Mike Maniscalco for nearly eight years, first afternoons on WCMC (99.9 the Fan), then mornings on WDNC (now branded Buzz Sports Radio and on AM 620, FM 96.5 and FM 99.3).
The change came days after conservative talk-show host Doug Kellett did his last “Morning Drive” show on WPTK (AM 850, branded WPTF.)
“We are constantly trying to locally compliment the number one rated Mike/Mike show on the Fan,” Maloney said, adding that there was no timetable for naming a replacement.
Learfield Sports, which has the radio rights to N.C. State athletics and has a partnership with CBC, still employs Thomas. He still will be heard on WCMC with the afternoon “Wolfpack Report” and as host of the N.C. State football and basketball coaches’ shows.
Maloney said that, in the interim, there will be various substitute co-hosts. WRALSportsFan.com writer Lauren Brownlow will appear on the show all this week. Monday, she will be joined by Chris Spatola, who has a weekly 10 a.m. –noon Saturday show on WCMC. She will appear with Maniscalco, who has been out of town, the rest of the week.
“We’ve been talking over last couple of weeks about doing some different things and I’m more than comfortable with sitting back and not having to do the morning show anymore,” Thomas said in a phone interview. “Doing morning sports radio is tough. You wake up at 5 o’clock every morning. It’s a lifestyle that you have to get used to, and it’s difficult. It wears on you. I’ve done the morning show for four and a half years now and it wears on you pretty good.”
Thomas, also a former NFL and XFL player, says he will still be part of the Wolfpack Sports Network radio team.
Maniscalco, who also does pregame and postgame shows for Carolina Hurricanes coverage on WCMC, will remain as a host on the morning-drive show on WDNC.
“Mike Maniscalco, who I do the show with, is very hockey-centric,” Thomas said. “He likes hockey and I don’t talk hockey, and it makes it difficult because Mike — that’s his MO. He does Hurricanes pre and post and it’s just hard to talk about offseason trades in July.”
The Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup the year before Thomas joined CBC. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that hockey should be a frequent topic on a sports talk show with an NHL team in the market.
With Maniscalco out of town, Joe McKillip and Peter Roley, who work with the N.C. State football program, appeared with Thomas on his last show Friday.
“I thought the show was working great,” Thomas said. “But sometimes change just helps everybody and that will give ‘DNC a better opportunity to do some different things, and it will definitely give me an opportunity to look at doing some different things.
“I’m just looking forward to other opportunities, and I’m not going to go away. I’m just moving on to some exciting new things that people will see in the next couple of months,” said Thomas, who added that those things could be in addition to his work with N.C. State.
Thomas was a project manager for St. Lawrence Homes before he joined CBC in October 2007. That’s when WCMC became an all-sports station and first branded itself 99.9 The Fan. Initially, he was co-host of the afternoon drive-time show “The Insiders” with Maniscalco from 3–7 p.m on WCMC.
In February 2010, “The Insiders” switched slots with the “Adam and Joe Show” (featuring Adam Gold and Joe Ovies), which previously was a morning drive-time show on WDNC. The Maniscalco-Thomas show has continued to air mornings since then, and the “Adam and Joe Show” has continued to air afternoons on WCMC.
Asked for his favorite memories during his time on Triangle sports radio, he mentioned his commentary about the controversies surrounding UNC athletics. Thomas suggested that since there is a journalism school at UNC, that the school is “well-represented in the area.”
“I feel like just talking real and being honest with people about that was something,” he said. “I feel like I did the area a service to open up the eyes of people about that. I like talking about local sports, and the passion of the rivalry is strong here with State, Carolina and Duke, and it’s just fun to talk about the rivalries.”
There obviously will be changes in non-local sports talk shows that air on CBC’s two sports stations.
Colin Cowherd, whose ESPN Radio show used to air from 10 a.m. –noon on WCMC, has left for Fox Sports. ESPN Radio dismissed him Friday ahead of his expected exit time after he made controversial comments about Dominican baseball players.
The speculation, first reported by Sports Illustrated media writer Richard Deitsch, is that Dan Le Batard — whose ESPN Radio show airs from 4–7 p.m. on WDNC (when not cut short by Durham Bulls coverage) — is the frontrunner to take over Cowherd’s time slot, which was 10 a.m. –1 p.m. nationally.
If Le Batard gets Cowherd’s old time slot, former Triangle host Bomani Jones — another candidate for Cowherd’s show — could take over Le Batard’s time slot, according to Deitsch. Jones is host for ESPN Radio’s “The Right Time,” which airs from 9–11 p.m. on WCMC.
In another bit of news, Shannon Penn, the producer for the “Adam and Joe Show,” will now also produce Jones’ show. Penn was the producer for Jones’ local Saturday morning show years ago, and in a Sunday tweet, Jones said he wouldn’t be where he is now without Penn.