Even as he prepares to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his nationally syndicated sports radio talk show Thursday, host Donal Ware remains focused on taking his program to new heights.
Ware – who started “From the press box to press row” and his own company in 2005 to increase the sports coverage of historically black colleges and universities – expanded to satellite radio through Sirius XM late in 2011. That decision, he said, took the show “to another level” because of the high-profile figures he hosts in addition to providing in-depth sports coverage.
Ware has been to the Super Bowl, NBA Finals and recalls chats with Snoop Dogg, Kevin Hart, Tony Dungy, Carli Lloyd, Serena Williams and Mike Krzyzewski.
“It has been a great ride,” Ware said recently during an interview at his studio.
Despite the expansion to satellite radio and his A-List guest list, Ware’s show remains geared toward covering HBCU athletics on the national level. After growing up in Maryland and working in media relations at North Carolina A&T, N.C. State and Shaw, he decided to start the radio show because he never heard HBCU athletics talked about nationally.
North Carolina was the ideal location to host the show because of the high concentration of HBCUs, particularly in the Triangle with Shaw, St. Augustine’s and N.C. Central, Ware said.
“They never talked HBCU. Both of my parents went to Howard, I’m a Morgan (State) graduate, so HBCU is sort of in my blood,” he said. “That’s why I started this show, because we wanted to bring HBCU sports on a national level.”
Initially, it was difficult to secure markets, air time and sponsors. Ware, who will turn 41 Saturday, began broadcasting the show on WAUG in Raleigh, but soon after the show started gaining momentum. WAUG is the only original affiliate that still carries “From the press box to press row.”
He had been a play-by-play radio commentator, but hosting the radio show was as challenging as gaining exposure, which Ware appreciates almost 10 years later.
“You should hear the very first show, you should hear the first two years – awful,” he said with a smile. “If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”
Ware often records the show from his home studio, explaining that especially in the summer the setup gives him the opportunity to spend time with three of his four kids – ages 7, 9 and 12, respectively. His oldest child, Blake, is a receiver at Shaw.
Ware will celebrate the show’s anniversary at Seby Jones Gallery at St. Aug’s from 5-7pm Thursday. WAUG-AM 750 and SiriusXM Channel 141will broadcast the event.
Ware wants the program to continue growing.
After recently receiving positive feedback from an ESPN Radio program director, he noted that more exposure will be the next step.
“I believe that this show should be on in every sports station in America,” he said.
A member of The N&O’s reader panel, Ware remains more thankful than ever he decided to branch out on his own despite the pressures that come with running his own company, DWCommunications, LLC.
“It’s something I was called to do. I had a passion for it, that’s just the bottom line,” he said. “Everything just fell together for me at the right time, and allowed me to start the company.”