HENDERSON, Ky. — I’ve considered how I wanted to say this for the past few weeks.
My style has always been straightforward and to the point. So, here it goes …
I’m leaving The Gleaner.
For almost 26 years, I’ve been lucky to have a job I have loved. I rarely dreaded going to work — if you can call going to sporting events work.
I walked into The Gleaner in the summer of 1996 for the first time as an employee. I had been in the building a couple of times before for interviews – as an unsuccessful job candidate not long after I graduated from Murray State in 1989 and then joined a few weeks before I a bustling staff jammed into the building on Klutey Park Plaza.
Before I moved to town, I didn’t know much about Henderson, which seemed like some far-off place to a country boy from Lyon County.
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Even as a journalism student, I had my eye on The Gleaner as a career destination. In the late 1980s, its big bold color pictures stood out from the other newspapers displayed on the racks in the school newspaper’s office. The writing was excellent. You could see an organization that cared about its community.
I was a newlywed in the summer of 1996 and looking to move to a bigger newspaper where I wouldn’t be a one-man show. Armed with a few years of experience at smaller newspapers, I sent out resumes to a half-dozen or so newspapers in the region.
Less than two days after mailing them, I got a call from Ron Jenkins on a Sunday morning. What an odd time to call, I thought. I was shocked that the mail service worked that fast but thrilled to hear from him.
My predecessor had resigned a few days before and The Gleaner needed to hire someone immediately with the Bambino World Series and the start of high school football season less than a month away. Little did Ron know that he would be stuck with me for the rest of his career.
I never got a reply from those other newspapers, but I wasn’t disappointed. I was where I was meant to be and where I wanted to be.
Within the first month on the job, I interviewed Lou Brock and Brooks Robinson. Even almost 26 years later, I remember writing a fun little story about Robinson meeting a young baseball player who was named for him.
I thought, “Wow, this job is going to be great!”
It took me a while to realize that the Bambino World Series did not come to town all the time – in fact, it never would again – and that I would not interview Hall of Famers every day. But the job did turn out to be great.
I have never thought of myself as a great writer or even a good one for that matter. I was a guy who figured out a way to get paid for doing what I love.
I saw a lot of great stuff: Henderson County’s state baseball championship in 2000, Final Four runs by the Henderson County boys and girls basketball and baseball teams and several state wrestling championships for Union County.
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As my writing style developed, I learned to let people tell their stories. A part of me will miss telling them.
What I will miss most are the relationships I built through my job. I became friends with many coaches and athletes. I got to know so many families through the sports and teams I’ve covered.
Though my new job will be a dramatic career change, I’m not leaving the sports world altogether. What that will look like, I still don’t fully know but I plan to dabble in the things I enjoy the most.
After announcing my departure from The Gleaner on social media a couple of weeks ago, I have been overwhelmed by the congratulations that I’ve received both in-person and electronically. Each comment has been cherished.
There are so many people that I want to thank, especially my wife Kathy who put up with my crazy work schedule even before our 26 years of marriage. Being together most nights and weekends will be a nice adjustment for us.
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I would have never come to Henderson without Ron Jenkins. I respected him and was a bit in awe of him from the first time I met him as a college student. He and David Dixon were great bosses – tough and demanding but fair and supportive.
Jim Kurk, who was The Gleaner’s sports editor for much of my career, saved me from embarrassment many times. I would occasionally get involved in writing about an exciting game and forget to include the final score. That seems important. Jim never missed it when I left the score out and caught plenty of other mistakes too.
There are so many other co-workers, supervisors, newspaper and radio colleagues, coaches and athletes who have made my career more enjoyable. I thank each of them for their friendship.
Most importantly, I thank the readers who gave me a platform to write about sports in our community. You allowed me to have a job that I have loved and you helped make Henderson my home.