Why Black and Blue Review?

Bill VothColumns, News32 Comments


I’ve been building this site the last month, and I put off writing this post until the end. I’m not sure why. I think it’s a combination of excitement and nervousness. It’s also a post I’ve been thinking about for three years, so I’ve been avoiding having to somehow organize all those thoughts as clearly as possible. I don’t want to hit “post” and then kick myself for either not saying something the way I intended or leaving something out I meant to include. So here it goes.


Before the recent construction at Bank of America Stadium, when you walked into the media workroom, there were 12-15 rectangular placards posted on the walls. Black with white writing, they each represented a local media outlet that covered the Panthers. But the majority of the placards were for outlets that used to cover the team.

We all know about the unfortunate plight of newspapers, and local television stations are facing similar futures with an archaic model. The media as we’ve known it started changing long ago, and in regards to the Panthers, it’s affected the way they’re covered.

Not only are the Panthers easily the most popular team in the region, they’re one of the most important businesses, as well. The coverage that surrounds them doesn’t equal their importance, but that’s not necessarily the fault of those who provide the actual coverage.

A handful of writers and reporters at the city’s paper and local television stations do a great job. Unfortunately, many of the people who make decisions on what to cover in the area are still using old media models while treating the Panthers as a minor story.


When I moved to Charlotte in 2005, it was to be a sports reporter at the only television station that traveled to road games. That dedication ended in 2008, and in ensuing seasons, the Panthers became less of a priority despite ratings that showed major local interest in the team.

This past season, the Panthers averaged a 26.3 rating in the Charlotte market. Their 20 preseason and regular season games were the highest-rated programs of any kind during those 20 weeks, attracting an audience from 400,000 to 500,000 viewers.

To be fair, as big as the team is locally, they still don’t pull the same kind of numbers teams like the Saints (52.0), Steelers (38.2) and Patriots (34.1). But Carolina’s games outpace markets like Miami (17.1), Tampa Bay (19.0) and Atlanta (19.5).

So on one hand, you have an emerging fan base with a growing, unquenchable thirst for coverage about their team. And on the other hand, you have fading coverage from traditional media outlets. There’s a huge hole to fill and that’s why I’m starting Black and Blue Review.


A few years ago, as my frustrations toward my station’s dwindling commitment to Panthers coverage grew, I started thinking about building an outlet to cover the Panthers. With the emergence of digital and social media, I believed it could and should be done, but the challenge of making an online outlet a sustainable full-time job scared me away. I ultimately started Spiracle Media with two other former Charlotte sports reporters, and we’ve fortunately grown it into a successful business.

But every fall since 2011, I was drawn back to the Panthers. The last two seasons, I wrote for The SportsXchange, but I largely stayed in the background. It was a side job that allowed me to stay involved, and I felt a bit out of place around full-time reporters.

Then, toward the end of this past season, I decided it was time. I had to try.

I’ve learned over the last few years that I have two passions: 1) figuring out how to be a better reporter in the rapidly-changing media landscape, 2) covering the Panthers. So why not combine the two and give it a go?


Black and Blue Review will be Panthers coverage for the digital age. In an on-demand world, fans want information when they want it, where they want it, and that’s what BBR will deliver.

Context is also key. With the decaying of legacy media and the emergence of HOT TAKES!!!!, we’re spiraling toward a lowest common denominator sports world.

For example: When the Panthers lost to the 49ers in the playoffs, much of the blame was placed on offensive coordinator Mike Shula. And maybe he was partially to blame. Or perhaps, there were a few other things that happened in the course of the game that could better explain why the Panthers lost. A closer look at the game tape reveals a number of mistakes made by the offensive line, errors that thwarted big moments not just inside the red zone.

It’s easy to yell about Mike Shula, and while some fans don’t care about going deeper, many do. BBR will attempt to peel back layers to explain not just WHAT happened, but WHY things happened, as well. Telling fans the facts isn’t enough anymore. We have to tell fans what those facts mean.

And yes, we’ll try to break news, but that won’t be the focus. These days, once news gets out there, how many times do you need to see and/or hear it? Breaking the news isn’t as important as explaining the whys around it.

Many were complimentary of my reporting during the Steve Smith/Jordan Gross/Greg Hardy part of this offseason, and while it was nice to get ahead of some things, my main goal was to break down why the decisions were being made. A sports reporter’s job is to be the conduit between the team and its fans. Fans may not always like what their team does, but both are better off if things are explained as clearly and fairly as possible.


When I was in seventh grade, I decided I wanted to be Bob Costas. That didn’t really work out, huh?

While the traditional ladders that used to include local television have largely disappeared, it’s incredible how many ladders have replaced them. Many think media is dying, that sports reporting is dead, but I see the opposite. No longer do fans need to depend on legacy outlets for information delivered in stale packaging.

Turning BBR into a proper outlet is a daunting challenge, and there’s no way I would try it without the support I’ve gotten. Even though I’m just getting started, I owe many a thank you.

Thank you to Jarod Latch and Tim Baier, the other co-founders of Spiracle Media. Going forward, I will continue to work with select clients, but Jarod and Tim’s understanding of my pull toward my passions has meant a great deal.

Thank you to my parents for helping me achieve my dream, being ok with me walking away, and being ok with me starting another path.

Thank you to my wife for all of the above and more.

Thank you to Darin Gantt, Jim Camut, Mac Lackey, Trent Hawthorne, Nick Maglosky, Pete Thamel, Andrew Catalon, Clint Irwin and others I’m sure I’m forgetting and some I can’t publicly name.

Now I feel like I need to get a baggie, snag a goldfish and ask “who’s coming with me?!”

But let’s go see what we can build now, shall we?


Share this post

  • tfroning86

    Great work, Bill. Looking forward to this website. 


  • ALFitzpatrick3

    This is an exciting adventure! I look forward to following along!

  • JerryMcdurmott

    Sounds great, I’ll be following your site regularly

  • appgrad22

    looking forward to it bill!

  • Xerogaki

    I can’t wait to see where this goes! As a fan of the of Panthers you have my support 100%!!

  • Tarheel_Soldier

    The newest website in my “Favorites”. Congrats and good luck.

  • billvoth

    Tarheel_Soldier  thanks!

  • billvoth

    Xerogaki  appreciate that. we’ll see what we can do!

  • billvoth

    appgrad22  thank you!

  • billvoth

    JerryMcdurmott  thanks! content may be a bit light until camp, but i’ll try to bang out what i can!

  • billvoth

    ALFitzpatrick3  exciting and daunting … and thank you! :)

  • KissMyConverse

    Good luck man can’t wait to get your “hot takes” HA!

  • AtlDrew

    From an Atlanta Panthers fan, excited for you Bill!

  • LWMicah

    Very good read, inspirational. I’m looking to become a Panthers writer/blogger sometime in the near future because it’s one of the few things that I really enjoy doing, and this motivates me.

  • nhs919

    Already signed up for email updates. Good luck and thanks for your hard work on covering our team.

    • http://blackandbluereview.com Bill Voth

      Appreciate it!

  • billvoth

    KissMyConverse  BLOCKED!

  • billvoth

    AtlDrew  Thanks, Drew!

  • billvoth

    LWMicah  Thanks for checking the site out!

  • billvoth

    nhs919  appreciate it!

  • mikecranston1

    All the best, Bill. I hope I can get frequent updates here on the $28 million escalators.

  • sirg0rd

    Great idea embarking on this Web site… will support you anyway I am able!

  • davethepanther

    I found out about your site through The Huddle were I get most of my conversation and information. As a 25 yr Navy Veteran and now 10+ years overseas finding quality Panther related information is slim.   I added my email and so far I cannot wait until it hits my email.

    Good luck and you already have a least one faithful follower.

  • Ericmaiorino

    Really enjoy what you guys have been doing !! Love the articles and videos !!!

    • http://blackandbluereview.com Bill Voth

      Thanks, Eric. We’re trying to do some different stuff!

  • ackin_afool

    I absolutely enjoy your coverage…I also get the email updates….Keep up the great work!!!!

  • savamichele

    I just discovered BBR and signed up for the emails. I’m really looking forward to them and I absolutely love the Jerry Maguire reference, it’s one of my favorite movies that I’ve watched several times. Thanks!

    • http://blackandbluereview.com Bill Voth

      Ha, thanks for that and glad you discovered us!

  • denmark_guy

    Just learned about this site and added it to my favourites. Great coverage…Keep up the great work!!!!

    • http://blackandbluereview.com Bill Voth

      Thanks for the long-distance shoutout!

  • rdawson13

    Bill, I used to watch you on the local sports station and I always thought you were much more enthusiastic about sports than any other anchor I’ve seen in the Charlotte area. I’m glad you were able to follow your dreams. Not a lot of people get that opportunity. Just know we all appreciate what you do here at BBR. Keep up the good work, my friend!

  • sigchi222

    Rumble, young man, rumble.