Chuck Wilson (sports journalist)

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Chuck Wilson
Chuck Wilson (19059475595) (cropped).jpg
Wilson in 2015
Born (1954-02-08) February 8, 1954 (age 65)
Massachusetts, United States
ResidenceProvidence, Rhode Island
Alma materIthaca College
OccupationSports journalist
Radio host
Years active1976–present

Chuck Wilson (born February 8, 1954) is an award-winning interviewer, reporter and sports talk radio host. Wilson was an original host when the ESPN Radio Network debuted on January 4, 1992, and has 20-years experience on national radio, including close to 17-years at ESPN.[1][2] In December, 2009, Sports named Wilson runner-up for “Best National Radio Host” of the decade.[3]

Chuck Wilson has long been a proponent of sportsmanship, ethics and fair play. In 2007, Wilson was named one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sport.[4] His website promotes "the value of giving your best and competing honorably, while bringing a positive, fair-minded approach to everything you do". Wilson states "There are two things in life we alone control...our effort and our attitude". Wilson's work on character education includes an unpaid role with 4eProductions.[5]

4e Productions[edit]

Chuck is Director of Ethics for 4eProductions, a multimedia company that balances entertainment with education and creates and develops original programs, characters, brands and songs designed to address universal social issues, build character and encourage healthy life choices. (currently an unpaid position). 4e's mission is to “Enlighten, Empower & Enrich Everyone”.[6] The critically acclaimed “Letters to Daddy - The Musical Key to Bully-Free” is a 4e Production.[7]

ESPN Radio (1991–2005, 2010–2013)[edit]

In November 1991, Chuck Wilson was the first host hired for the start-up of the ESPN Radio Network.[8] “Applications for the ESPN jobs flooded the network’s offices —- more than 200 from all over the country. But Wilson was the first to be chosen…and he hadn’t applied. He never even auditioned.” [8] John Walsh, Executive Editor of ESPN told the Providence Journal “We knew Chuck had a terrific program in Rhode Island. We chose him because we liked his knowledge, his news instincts, his writing, the feel of his voice and his literate approach to the program.” [8]

On January 3, 1992, the Providence Journal wrote “In a field where bombast and success often go hand-in-hand, Chuck Wilson is the exception…He will be one of the anchors when ESPN kicks off its latest far-reaching venture —- a national all-sports weekend radio show….The program will include sports updates every 15 minutes, lots of guests, analysis, follow-ups on breaking stories and live reports from game sites across the country. There will be no call ins. Wilson’s job...will be to keep an even presence to it all…(Wilson) has impressed the region’s fanatical sports-talk audience with his wide-ranging sports knowledge, his fairness, and his keen ability to elicit telling responses from his numerous high-powered guests.” [8]

ESPN Radio debuted January 4, 1992, on 151 stations with Wilson and Tony Bruno as co-hosts. The 7-hour program aired from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. ET Saturdays and Sundays. The network's credibility was enhanced with a third co-host from the TV side: Keith Olbermann one day and Mike Tirico the other.[9] By 1996, ESPN Radio affiliates totaled 420 non-duplicative stations and in 2001, as the network approached its 10th anniversary, there were 690 network affiliates, 195 full-time [10]

Chuck Wilson went full-time at ESPN in 1994 and moved from weekends to weeknights when ESPN Radio's talk programming expanded to seven night's a week.[11] Wilson remained on Gamenight until late July 2005.[9]

Wilson twice won international awards for his reporting, commentary and analysis including one as co-host of "ESPN Radio Viewpoints" with Frank Deford.[12] Providence Journal TV/Radio critic John Martin wrote "I worked with Chuck (at WEAN) way back when and I can tell you I've never met anyone more dedicated...He is a fanatic for detail who pursues a story about a trade or coaching change with the tenacity of an NFL Linebacker." [11]

In addition to co-hosting Gamenight, Wilson hosted the acclaimed “ESPN Classic Presents the Legends on ESPN Radio”, in which he conducted in-depth, one-on-one interviews with legendary sports figures. The Los Angeles Times called it “an excellent weekly show.” [13] In 2001, Wilson's “Legends” interview with Jerry West was the only “Finalist” at the New York Festival International Awards for long-form interview series.[14]

Wilson has been described as the "Voice of Reason" [15] and the "Conscience of ESPN Radio" for his reasoned, even-handed approach in the booth [16] His belief in the value of respect and fair play was reflected in his work. His “Chuck Wilson on Sports” program on Saturday morning's on ESPN Radio often addressed such issues in youth sports. Wilson also delivered commentaries for the network, many of which centered on the importance of integrity and sportsmanship. In February, 2002, the New York Post wrote “ESPN Radio’s Chuck Wilson last week delivered a poignant essay on how the proliferation of trash-talking places sports in an ever-diminishing state.” [17]

In late January 2005, ESPN informed Wilson that he would not be retained when his five-year contract expired.[9] ESPN Radio General Manager Bruce Gilbert complimented Wilson on his work “Chuck is one of the most prepared personalities I’ve ever encountered. His pre-show ritual is regimented, focused and unparalleled in our industry. Chuck has worked with over 200 different co-hosts in his time at ESPN Radio and has shown an amazing ability to comfortably coexist with air talent, athletes, coaches, general managers and assorted characters from all walks of life.[18] Wilson’s last day on ESPN Radio was July 26, 2005.[9]

On March 14, 2010, Wilson returned to ESPN Radio hosting “SportsCenter Tonight” and other shows and specials for the network. The Providence Journal wrote: “There is a ray of hope — amidst the shouting, the junior high locker room-level jokes, the uninformed opinions, the massive egos, the constant interrupting and talking over one another — for intelligent sports-talk radio. Chuck Wilson is returning to ESPN…Wilson has always been the perfect host for the mature, as opposed to immature, sports fan. There never has been a better on-air interviewer than Wilson. Whether in Providence back in the 1980s or in the 14 years he was with ESPN, he always had interesting guests who enjoyed going on his show because no one worked harder to prepare than he did. Wilson unfailingly asked insightful, probing questions that left his listeners both well-informed and highly entertained.” [19] On March 11, 2013, Richard Deitsch wrote on Longtime ESPN Radio host Chuck Wilson, a voice of intelligence amid a sea of chest-beating opinion-offers, is no longer with ESPN Radio. His contract (he worked the last three years on a freelance basis) was not renewed. His last day on ESPN's airwaves was Sunday. Wilson said Scott Masteller, ESPN Radio senior director, told him they were moving in another direction. 'I thank ESPN for bringing me back the last three years in a freelance role.' Wilson said. 'They treated me well'.[2]

XM Radio (2005–2008)[edit]

Chuck Wilson joined XM Satellite Radio (now SiriusXM) in September, 2005 in a part-time role for the network's baseball channel MLB Home Plate (now MLB Network Radio) and became full-time in February, 2006. He hosted “MLB on Deck”, “XM Hot Stove” and “MLB Postseason” and filled in on each of the other shows on the channel [20] Wilson also was the primary fill-in for Charley Steiner on XM's “Baseball Beat.” [21] In addition, Wilson wrote, co-produced and narrated specials for the channel including “Yankee Stadium Remembered.” Wilson's job was “eliminated” in November, 2008 after the Sirius/XM Satellite merger.[20]

"100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America"[edit]

In 2007, Chuck Wilson was named one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sport. Wilson was selected from a list of more than 1,500 nominees. The only other broadcaster named was Bob Costas.[4] In a news release announcing that honored group, Dan Doyle, Executive Director of the Institute for International Sport said “In America and in many other countries, we honor elite athletes, winning coaches, wealthy team owners and media moguls. We praise sports educators yet we really do not honor them in a manner befitting their admirable impact on society. This project is aimed at honoring individuals and organizations who have creatively and effectively used sport in the very best way - as a means to educate and shape positive values” [20]

"Best National Radio Host of the Decade" honor[edit]

In December, 2009, Sports named Chuck Wilson runner-up for “Best National Radio Host” of the decade as part of’s best and worst of the decade in sports broadcasting.[3] In December, 2010, Wilson, along with ESPN Radio colleagues Doug Brown, Marc Kestecher, Jon Stashower, were named “Best National Radio Voices for 2010” by Sports Illustrated. S.I. media critic Richard Deitsch wrote “Along with the quality of their voices, what stands out here is the diligence and professionalism that each man delivers daily. Names are correctly pronounced, setups are done intelligently. It’s a pleasure to listen to radio professionals who care about quality.” [22] Wilson was also named “Comeback Talent of the Year” for 2010 by TalkingTVSports. Steve Sampsell wrote: “Simply put, Wilson is a sports-radio professional. He’s diligent, sounds good and works hard. He cares and he prepares.” [23] In December, 2011, the ESPN Radio anchors were named as “Best National Voices for 2011” by S.I. Media critic Richard Deitsch, who wrote “If I were to single out an individual for this award, I’d likely give it to Chuck Wilson, the ESPN Radio host whose thoughtful work nightly on a variety of topics is first rate and makes that network look very good.” [24]

Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame[edit]

In 2011, Chuck Wilson was elected to the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame.[25] “Chuck Wilson on Sports” was the first nightly sports talk show in New England to incorporate weekly contributors. The show had a 13-year run from 1981 to 1993, first on WEAN radio, then on WICE and the last 4 years on WPRO. Wilson left WPRO in April 1993 when the station was sold.[25]

Radio/TV career in Providence, Rhode Island[edit]

In July 1981, WEAN radio in Providence, Rhode Island reached out to Wilson and hired him to report sports in afternoon drive and to start a nightly sports talk show (the market was without one). 'I told WEAN that if they wanted a show with a lot of flash and sizzle, they didn't want me,' said Wilson. 'I told them I wanted to do a guest-oriented program that would treat the callers with respect.' [26] “Chuck Wilson on Sports” broke twenty wire stories in its first three years and was first to correctly report the postponement of the Hearns-Hagler fight. “At the time I went on the air (to break the news that the fight in Detroit would be postponed), the promoter (Bob Arum) was in Detroit saying that the fight was still on. That night, Goody and Pat Petronelli (Hagler’s handlers) called me and said ‘Chuck, please stay in touch with us tonight. You guys know what’s going on more than we do.’ “If you hustle, you get a lot of breaks like that, said Wilson.” [27] The Providence Journal wrote “Wilson has slowly and surely developed a first-class show in Providence. And it’s not just that he routinely has quality guests on, that he’s given local callers a chance to talk with the likes of John Wooden, Al McGuire, Red Barber, Ted Williams, Marvelous Marvin Hagler…or that “Chuck Wilson on Sports” has broken some big stories in this market...or that it's a program involved in the business of sports reporting, not merely in conversing with callers....It’s that the show has established its niche without having to resort to gimmicks. No laugh tracks. No screaming. No making fun of callers” [28] The Boston Globe wrote: “Wilson was a pioneer in having quality guests from other media: The (Boston) Globe’s Bob Ryan, football guru Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN’s Peter Gammons, and local Providence writers were regulars”.[9] The Providence Journal wrote “Wilson’s logical, even-handed approach and sharp interviewing technique have served him well…Last fall (1984), it claimed more adult male listeners during its time period than any other program in the market.” [29]

In 1985, WEAN was sold and in 1986, Wilson and morning sportscaster Eric Reid were among the final news staffers let go when the conversion from a news-talk-sports format to an automated, big band-nostalgia format was finished. Wilson's show was number one on the AM dial from 5-8 pm with male listeners.” [30] Wilson's show returned to the air on WICE Radio on October 27, 1986.[31] In the spring 1987 Arbitron © ratings, the show posted the station’s highest-rated hours. “Measuring total audience share among listeners 12 years and older, Wilson earned an 8.6 rating in the 6-7 p.m. hour and an 8.4 rating in the 7-8 p.m. hour.” (the next highest-rated hour on the station was a 1.8 share). “In the category of “Men, 18-34”, a key demographic with advertisers, the ratings were more produced still.”.[32] In September 1987, after the ratings were released, “Chuck Wilson on Sports’ expanded to three hours beginning an hour earlier at 5:00 p.m.

In 1988, WICE became the flagship station for the first (and only) season of the New England Steamrollers in the Arena Football League. Chuck Wilson called the play-by-play and former NFL All-Pro safety Tim Fox provided the analysis.[33] Wilson also hosted and co-produced the weekly coach's show on WNAC-TV with Coach Babe Parilli.[34] Wilson also appeared once a week on as a featured co-host on a “Live” call-in segment on WLNE-TV's Sunday night sports wrap-up show from October 1988 to December 1989.[35]

In April 1989, Wilson left WICE and joined WPRO.[36] That year, Wilson was honored with the UPI Tom Phillips Award for “Best New England Sports Coverage”.[26] The 6-9 p.m. show moved up to the 5-8 p.m. time slot in September 1991. In January 1992, the Providence Journal wrote: “WPRO’s strategy to move Wilson back to a 5:00 p.m. start paid off. WPRO topped (its chief competitor) WHJJ in men in every age group in the five o’clock hour.[37] “Chuck Wilson on Sports” continued at WPRO until April 28, 1993. He was one of 36 employees, from among the 55 workers at the AM and FM stations, who opted to leave when the stations were sold.[38] The Boston Globe wrote “Chuck Wilson is New England’s top sports talk show host...Wilson's formula is wonderfully simple for a host with matching skills. He engages guests in Q&A similar to the manner of Bob Costas, and he engages in conversation with generally quality callers. Humor is there as a side dish...In the latest rating book, Wilson’s show was No. 1 in the market, including FM stations, between 5 and 8 p.m. with males 25 to 49.[39] In August 1994, the Boston Globe wrote: ”Radio talk-show hosts are decisive in audience levels, proven by the experience of WPRO in Providence. In the year since Chuck Wilson left his nightly three-hour show… Arbitron © numbers show the (WPRO) audience has been halved.” [40]

Early Radio/TV Career in Rochester, N.Y.[edit]

Chuck Wilson's broadcast career began in January 1976 at WBBF radio in Rochester, New York. “I had just come out from Ithaca College and was in an interview with the general manager,” said Wilson. “The news anchor came storming in and quit at 3:30. I went on and did the 4 o’clock news.” [26] When the station's FM sister station changed its format to all-news as WNWZ, Wilson co-anchored afternoon drive for the NBC “News and Information” affiliate. He was later named Sports Director, delivering 16-sports updates, six nights per week. When NBC pulled the plug on its all-news format, Wilson returned to WBBF. In May 1978, Wilson joined newstalk station WROC (later to become WPXN).[41] In September 1978, Chuck Wilson added TV to his resume, joining WHEC-TV delivering the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday night sportscasts for the market's top-rated weekend newscast.[42] In July 1980, Wilson left both his radio and TV jobs to join WSAY as Sports Director delivering drive-time commentaries and hosting a nightly sports talk show “Chuck Wilson on Sports”.[43][44] TV/Radio critic Rudy Martzke wrote “With all the national guests Chuck Wilson has lined up, his sports talk show would do well on a big city station.” [45] He lost his job in a budget squeeze 6-months later. Less than 3-month later, he was re-hired.[46] In 1983, the Rochester Times-Union wrote “Chuck Wilson….is probably this town’s all-time best radio sports talk show host.” [47]


Chuck Wilson was born February 8, 1954, in Massachusetts, the youngest of three sons of the late Eleanor and Melvin Wilson. Mel Wilson was a physicist and a national authority on the aurora borealis (known as the northern lights).[48]

Chuck Wilson grew up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and attended Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts. He played football, basketball and was a member of the golf team. Wilson graduated in 1972 and then attended Ithaca College. Chuck has been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research since 1981.[49] In 1993, he was named a Sports Ethics Fellow by the Institute for International Sport.[50] From 2001 to 2006, he served on the advisory panel for the Center for Sports Parenting.[51]


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  4. ^ a b "America's Most Influential Sports Educators". Institute for International Sport. Institute for International Sport. October 17, 2007. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
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  6. ^ "4eProductions company page". Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Letters to Daddy main page". Retrieved 26 March 2013.
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  16. ^ Reynolds, Bill (March 4, 2005). "ESPN Radio Leaves Talk Show Host Speechless". Providence Journal (R.I.). p. D-1. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  17. ^ Mushnick, Phil (February 17, 2002). "Now, McEnroe Cares About Kids?". New York Post (N.Y.). Retrieved March 26, 2013.
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  20. ^ a b c Brown, Maury. "Radio Personality Chuck Wilson Returning to ESPN Radio". Retrieved March 26, 2013.
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  27. ^ Pepin, David (October 7, 1986). "Welcome Back, Chuck". Warwick (R.I.) Beacon. p. 13.
  28. ^ Reynolds, Bill (April 11, 1985). "Wilson Talks a Good Show, Without Riding an Elephant". Providence Journal (R.I.). p. B-09. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  29. ^ McAdam, Sean (September 20, 1985). "Sports Talk Show with New Format Takes Shot at Wilson's Reign". Providence Journal (R.I.). p. B-02. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  30. ^ Scandura, Mike (March 25, 1986). "Dropping Chuck Wilson's Show Makes Little Sense". Pawtucket (R.I.) Times. p. 11.
  31. ^ ""TV-Radio Listings: "Chuck Wilson on Sports" Returns Tonight"". Providence Journal (R.I.). October 27, 1986.
  32. ^ McAdam, Sean (September 3, 1987). "WICE Wins Latest Round in Sports-Talk Battle". Providence Journal (R.I.). p. C-17. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  33. ^ "Steamrollers Announce Broadcast Team". New England Steamrollers (news release). April 11, 1988.
  34. ^ "Wilson to Host Babe Parilli Show". WNAC-TV (news release). April 14, 1988.
  35. ^ ""Chuck Wilson to Join Ken Bell Each Week on "Sports Locker"". WLNE-TV (news release). September 26, 1988.
  36. ^ "WPRO Nets PC Hoops, Talk Show Wilson". Providence Journal (R.I.). April 4, 1989. p. D-05. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  37. ^ Martin, John (January 15, 1992). "WHJJ Tops News Talk Radio Ratings". Providence Journal (R.I.). p. C-05. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
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  39. ^ Craig, Jack (April 28, 1993). "Hockey Fan's Weren't in Driver's Seat; Wilson a Free Agent". Boston Globe (MA.). Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  40. ^ Craig, Jack (August 28, 1994). "Some Microphones Still Open". Boston Globe (MA.). Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  41. ^ Martzke, Rudy (August 10, 1978). "Wilson Answers Call for Sports Talk Host". Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle. p. 1-D.
  42. ^ Martzke, Rudy (September 5, 1978). "Checking the Channels". Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle.
  43. ^ Martzke, Rudy (July 18, 1980). "Wilson Leaves WPXN". Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle.
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  47. ^ Matthews, Bob (May 28, 1983). "TV-Radio Column". Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union.
  48. ^ W3XO, ed. (April 1982). "Melvin S. Wilson W1DEI/W2BOC (1915-1982)". QST Magazine: 72. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  49. ^ Wilson, Chuck. "ChuckWilsonPOV - About". Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  50. ^ "Sports Ethics Fellows - 1993". Institute For International Sport. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  51. ^ "Chuck Wilson". Retrieved March 26, 2013.