Julie Denine Glenn, news director for WGCU Public Media in Fort Myers, Fla., died Saturday at the age of 50.
The cause of death was health complications stemming from a progression of glioblastoma, according to the station.
Glenn joined WGCU in 2016 and worked in many different roles — reporter, program host and podcast creator. In 2017 she agreed to step up as interim news director to lead the station’s award-winning coverage of Hurricane Irma. She was promoted into the job permanently in 2018. She joined the board of the Public Media Journalists Association that same year and served until 2021.
Former GM Rick Johnson asked Glenn to lead the newsroom in fall 2017 as the community braced for the approach of what was then a Category 4 hurricane, according to a public statement he wrote for the station’s website. “It was Julie’s leadership, tenacity and good humor under the most trying circumstances that shaped that coverage while nurturing the talents and sustaining the spirits of her team who worked around the clock to keep listeners informed and safe,” Johnson wrote. “The world — but more specifically Southwest Florida — is a poorer place without Julie in it. I am deeply saddened by her passing. She will be sorely missed by all who worked with and knew her.”
WGCU’s hurricane coverage won a 2018 National Edward R. Murrow Award for breaking news. In 2019 the newsroom received a regional Murrow for its environmental coverage of algal blooms in the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Okeechobee. The Florida Associated Press Broadcasters named WGCU station of the year in 2018 and last year honored Glenn for her breaking news coverage and feature reporting.
“Beyond Julie’s journalistic acumen and passion for news, she was a nurturing co-worker who always went above and beyond to celebrate someone’s birthday or recent accomplishment,” said Amy Shumaker, associate GM for content, in an obituary published on WGCU’s website. “If you were in need, Julie was there. We will miss her terribly.”
Current GM Corey Lewis, who joined the station last year, said in the obituary that Glenn “insisted on contributing to our work even during the toughest part of her fight, until it became impossible.”
“Julie was a true professional in everything she touched. She became the face of WGCU with her willingness to emcee an event or be the moderator for a panel discussion,” said WGCU board member Linda Penniman. “Her preparation was always flawless. This force will be missed. She deserved better.”
Glenn earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication theory from the University of Missouri in Kansas City in 1993, according to her LinkedIn profile. In 2006, she earned a master’s degree in food and wine from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, and a master’s in communication of quality products from Universita Degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Piedmont, Italy.
She began her work in broadcast journalism at WGEM, a commercial radio station in Quincy, Ill., where she worked as an anchor and reporter until 2005. She switched careers and became a wine consultant and sales specialist while also freelancing as a writer and the wine columnist for Naples Daily News and the News-Press in Fort Myers.
At WGCU, Glenn channeled her knowledge and interest in wine to co-create and co-host Grape Minds, a WGCU podcast about wine. In a tribute to Glenn, Gina Burch, co-creator and co-host, said the pair “dove deep into the history, politics, culture and personalities of the wine world” but kept the program fun “ because stuffy, fussy snobbery is not our style.”
Glenn is survived by her husband, Rosario Fragale; her daughter, Arianna Susan Fragale; and her father, Dennis (Linda) Glenn of Estero, Fla. Glenn’s mother, Susan Diana Glenn, died in 2010, according to a public obituary.
Plans for a memorial service will be published on WGCU’s website.