What a pleasure it is to be writing again, if only intermittently.
KSN.com has given me the opportunity to share my views on sports – and who knows what else? – on this forum. I’m excited and appreciative to do what I do best.
In school, I virtually ignored the subjects, name math and science, that potentially could have made me millions. Instead, I focused on English and composition and things like that. Subjects that almost guarantee a life struggle to pay the electric bill.
But would I change anything? Um, let me get back to you on that.
Just kidding. Of course, I wouldn’t change anything.
For 42 years, I plied my trade at The Wichita Eagle before retiring last April. Before that, I worked at the Derby Daily Reporter for three years, including my junior and senior years of high school.
Writing and reporting and doing stuff like this is kind of my thing. Oh, and I’m also a 20-year – or thereabouts – veteran of sports-talk radio and currently do a show on KFH with my son, Jeff, that airs from 4-6 p.m. We fight, we argue, we debate — and we kiss and make up after every show.
I have always loved sports, grew to love writing and found a way to merge the two love interests. Don’t ever try that in your romantic life.
So how did a become such a sports guy. That one is on my father, Ray, who dragged me along to Wichita State Shocker football and basketball games from the time I can remember. We also spent an inordinate amount of time watching baseball at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium when I was a kid. And we attended many City League basketball triple-headers back in the day at the Roundhouse, now Koch Arena.
When my dad wasn’t working, he often had a transistor radio by his side with an attached earplug, tuned to the St. Louis Cardinals. I was bitten by the Cardinals’ bug in 1963, Stan Musial’s final year, and I’ve been devout since.
The one part of fandom a career in journalism hasn’t taken from me is my deep loyalty and infatuation with the Cardinals. I follow them religiously, though the ups and the downs. And it allows me to continue to appreciate the wide-eyed devotion so many fans have for their teams.
As a reporter and journalist, though, I was taught to be impartial. It’s probably the most misunderstood aspect of my job. The core tenet of journalism is impartiality, which doesn’t mean journalists don’t have viewpoints or personal biases. It does mean, however, that they can put those things aside to fairly report news.
As a kid, I loved the Wichita State Shockers. I was rabid. Over the years, though, I lost that. I still respect Wichita State athletics. And Shocker basketball, of course, is the hottest thing going. It’s great for the journalism business locally – newspaper, television, radio – when the Shockers do well. And it makes people in Wichita and the area happy.
Happy is good.
It’s the same with Kansas and Kansas State. Respect them, happy when they do well, but not emotionally destroyed when they don’t.
I have given only one sports team that kind of power over my well-being – the St. Louis Cardinals. And one is enough.
I was ready to retire from the newspaper. The radio show and my involvement with League 42, an urban youth baseball league I founded (with lots of help) in 2013, have filled my life. I’m also happily married to Debbie, a saint, and we have the best dog in the world, a Schnauzer-Jack Russell mix named Misty, who keeps us on our toes.
I haven’t missed going to as many games. I haven’t missed deadline writing. I haven’t missed the way newspapers were forced to change because of declining readership and advertising revenue.
I do miss the newsroom atmosphere of newspapers in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. But I also recognize, perhaps more grudgingly than I should, that times change and media evolves. The Internet is a wonderful thing, except when it isn’t. And we all have our own personal ideas about when it crosses over from wonderful to not-so-wonderful.
So yes, I do Facebook. I am on Twitter. I have tweeted nearly 23,000 times. Astonishing.
In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be doing what I have always done – write. You can catch my work here, on KSN.com. I’ll share my opinions on issues and things happening in Wichita and around the state and region.
I have, because of my previous work at the Eagle, gotten to know the fan base here and what makes it click. I’ll do my best to write about the things that make you most curious and invested.
One down, more to come.