WGCU Host With the Most

Julie Glenn Knows Wine—and Cof­fee

Times of the Islands - - Making Waves - Julie Glenn BY GLENN MILLER

he voice of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live call-in ra­dio show en­tered the Star­bucks at Gulf Coast Town Cen­ter in Fort My­ers, just down the road from Florida Gulf Coast Univer­sity, at pre­cisely 9 o’clock on a typ­i­cally swel­ter­ing July morn­ing. In the cool of Star­bucks, as the sum­mer sun blis­tered the park­ing lot, Julie Glenn or­dered a big latte with an ex­tra shot. She did not use the word “venti.”

“I never or­der call­ing it a ‘venti’ be­cause it makes me in­sane,” ex­plained Glenn, who is also WGCU’s news direc­tor.

As a jour­nal­ist, she val­ues pre­ci­sion in lan­guage—whether it’s English or Ital­ian. Venti means “twenty” in Ital­ian, not “large.”

Glenn walked with her venti, er, big drink to a corner ta­ble to chat. She talked about cof­fee, wine, food and Italy, where she earned a mas­ter’s de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the Univer­sity of Gas­tro­nomic Sci­ences in Pol­lenzo. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and that doesn’t even in­clude cof­fee grounds, a sub­ject that didn’t come up in the hour the ex-barista spent in Star­bucks. She’s come a long way from those barista days in Quincy, Illi­nois. As Glenn set­tled into her seat over­look­ing that hot park­ing lot, she dis­cussed cof­fee choices. She ad­mit­ted a fond­ness for sweets. “I never get low-fat any­thing,” Glenn noted. At home she likes caffè mochas. “It’s called caffè mocha but there’s no choco­late in it,” she added. No mat­ter the size of a cup or its name, Glenn knows her way around cof­fee. Not only did she once work as a barista but she owned a cof­fee shop lo­cated in­side an art gallery in an old bank build­ing in Quincy. Glenn had worked in TV news be­fore get­ting into the cof­fee busi­ness and then, af­ter the foray into cof­fee, she re­turned to tele­vi­sion. “Grew dis­il­lu­sioned with it again and quickly be­cause the sto­ry­telling is not the kind of sto­ry­telling I wanted to do,” she ex­plained. It was time for a big change, one that took her to Italy for a year. “I knew I wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Glenn noted. “I didn’t know what. When you’re in that free fall, what am I go­ing to do with my­self? … I was in my 30s. So I de­cided I’d go ap­ply to this school and if they ac­cept me it’s meant to be and if they don’t ac­cept me it’s not.” She was ac­cepted. “I couldn’t be­lieve it,” Glenn said. She learned a great deal about cof­fee, wine and food. To the rest of the world, Ital­ian food is largely cen­tered on tomato sauces. But the tomato is from the New World and was un­known in Italy be­fore the 16th cen­tury. When ex­plor­ers first took the strange red prod­uct to the Old World, folks in Italy weren’t sure what to make of it. “At first they thought it was poi­sonous,” Glenn said. “But they would give some­body a tomato plant as a gift for dec­o­ra­tion kind of thing—much as you would give some­body a rose bush. They got over that pretty quick.” Cof­fee is an­other trea­sure that isn’t na­tive to Italy. How­ever, the Ital­ians used their ge­nius to en­hance what could be done with it.

“ I kind of look at grapes like peo­ple. So chardon­nay—if it were a per­son—would be a real es­tate agent with gi­ant hair and tons of makeup.” —Julie Glenn

“They have rules about cof­fee in Italy,” Glenn re­lated. “Cap­puc­cino in the morn­ing and if you have a cap­puc­cino at lunch or af­ter, they look at you like you’re a child. Like a bowl of ce­real for din­ner.”

Wine is also, of course, an­other bev­er­age that Ital­ians have per­fected over cen­turies. “I ac­tu­ally learned more about wine in the United States when I came back be­cause I sold wine,” Glenn said. “You have to know I learned a lot there [Italy], ob­vi­ously.”

She re­called a trip to Ger­many where she tried a 1964 ries­ling in a restau­rant that fea­tured an Elvis im­per­son­ator for en­ter­tain­ment. How was that wine? “It tasted like it was old,” Glenn said. “It was sur­pris­ing. It was still good.”

When she re­turned to the U.S., Glenn opened a wine shop in Quincy. And al­though some may be in­tim­i­dated by wine, she doesn’t think folks should feel that way: “I feel peo­ple know more about wine than they think. It’s what you like that is the most im­por­tant thing.”

Glenn of­fered amus­ing wine ob­ser­va­tions. “I kind of look at grapes like peo­ple,” she said. “So chardon­nay—if it were a per­son—would be a real es­tate agent with gi­ant hair and tons of makeup.”

It was time for Glenn to get back to WGCU, where pre­sum­ably no wine awaited. “There’s a cof­feemaker like ev­ery 20 feet,” she said of the sta­tion.

Just don’t ex­pect to hear the word “venti” on Gulf Coast Live. Fre­quent TOTI con­trib­u­tor Glenn Miller is also pres­i­dent of the South­west Florida His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety.

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