WGCU loses a key member of the news team and a member of the family

Julie Denine Glenn, 50, of Estero, died early Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Bonita Springs, Florida, stemming from a progression of glioblastoma.

For WGCU Public Media, Glenn had been news director, talk show host, reporter, podcast creator and co-host, nurturer of young journalists and an optimistic, inspiring and fun friend and colleague.

She is survived by her husband, Rosario Fragale; her daughter, Arianna Susan Fragale, 11; and her father, Dennis (Linda) Glenn of Estero. She was the daughter of the late Susan Glenn.

“Julie was larger than life,” said longtime friend Catherine Bergerson of Naples, who met and befriended Glenn in 2004 while both were anchor reporters at WGEM in Quincy, Illinois. By 2006, both were in Southwest Florida, Bergerson as a reporter for Waterman Broadcasting later moving to public relations and Glenn as a wine company representative and columnist and a freelance writer for numerous local and national publications. Their daughters were born months apart. “An exceptionally devoted mother, Julie’s passion for and pride in Arianna was evident in every decision Julie made. Julie’s intellect, beauty and light shine on through her daughter,” Bergerson said.

“Julie’s friends are innumerable. She and Ro generously opened their home to friends and family. Always cooking delicious meals, opening a carefully selected bottle of wine, and sharing time with stories and laughter. Julie’s fierce loyalty to those she loved, her quick wit, clever quips, love of music and a spontaneous living room dance party, made her a one-in-a-million kind of friend.”

Glenn brought a similar passion for journalism to the WGCU newsroom and other media institutions as she shared her talent literally worldwide.  A graduate in mass communication theory from the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where she was raised, Glenn also 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.

In Southwest Florida as elsewhere, Glenn covered critical community stories with truth, accuracy, and heart. While serving in several roles at WGCU (PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida), her professional excellence was recognized with some of the most distinguished awards in journalism. Glenn and the WGCU news team earned regional and national Edward R. Murrow awards and the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters twice named WGCU as station of the year. Glenn took great pride in developing and nurturing young journalists, celebrating their successes and bringing passionate, fresh minds to the profession she so loved.   

Along with local media personality and her good friend Gina Birch, Glenn was the co-creator and co-host of the popular WGCU/NPR Grape Minds podcast. A former wine columnist and company representative, she shared her deep knowledge of wine, grapes, geography, local history, soil conditions and more, combined with a sense of humor and engaging storytelling. 

“It was an honor to work with Julie when The News-Press and Naples Daily News collaborated on a series of Coronavirus Town Halls. Her passion for journalism was something to behold and she was – and always will be – an inspiration to anyone in the news media business. I will miss her,” said Mark Bickel, audience development director for The News-Press | Naples Daily News, who presided with Glenn over several award-winning pandemic-related community forums.

“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 WGCU Associate General Manager for Content Amy Shumaker. “If you were in need, Julie was there. We will miss her terribly.”

“Although I only worked with Julie for a few short months before she went out on leave, I know that her impacts on the station and on the community were profound,” said WGCU General Manager Corey Lewis. “She insisted on contributing to our work even during the toughest part of her fight, until it became impossible.”

Accolades also streamed in yesterday from current and former WGCU Public Media Advisory Board members.

Board member Linda Penniman said, “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. Her preparation was always flawless. This force will be missed. She deserved better.”

“Julie moved the bar higher and was a terrific light dispelling the darkness of disease,” said board member Steve O’Brien.

According to former public media board member Charisse Thomas, “Julie always elevated our group discussions with her warmth, wit and intelligence. We were all so fortunate to have known her. She will be sorely missed.”

“Julie will forever be remembered for the incredible person she was, and for her focus on the important things in life – devotion to family, friends, community, happiness, and giving it her all, every day,” said Bergerson.

Memorial planning is underway. More information will follow on this site. Glenn’s husband, Rosario Fragale, asks that anyone wishing to honor her life may want to offer their support to other families who need financial or emotional assistance in their fight with cancer.

A tribute to Glenn by former WGCU General Manager Rick Johnson and remembrance from podcast co-producer Gina Birch accompany this story.

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