Chance meetings with friends can — and do — produce opportunities one never expects to receive.
So I was a few months ago when my wife and I stumbled into a meeting with a friend of mine who happens to run a television station here in Amarillo. That meeting has evolved into a marvelous opportunity for me to get back into the journalism game I “played” for 37 years.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing a blog for NewsChannel10.com, the website for Amarillo’s CBS-TV affiliate.
News Channel 10 calls the feature “Whatever Happened To …” and it involves news stories I get to sniff out and write for the website. The stories are of an unfinished nature, the kinds of stories that gained traction, but might have dropped off the public grid. They involve promises and pledges. They seek to answer whether those pledges have been met. A recent story involved a cold case at the police department involving the disappearance of a 9-year-old boy in 1998; the boy, Dorien Thomas, would be 26 years of age and the police have found nothing, not a trace of him, since he vanished.
The chance meeting occurred in the summer of 2014. My wife and I were garage-sale shopping. We walked into the garage of Brent McClure, the general manager at News Channel 10. “Hey, what are you doing these days?” McClure asked. I said I was working a couple of part-time jobs, including a blogging gig at Panhandle PBS, the public TV station affiliated with Amarillo College.
“Why don’t you write for us?” McClure asked. Huh? Are you kidding? “No, I’m serious,” he said.
We chatted for a few more minutes, then we left. I told him I’d call him later.
Well, I did … later that day. My question went like this: “Hey, Brent, was that request for real or were you just making conversation?” He assured me he was sincere. With that, I made an appointment to visit him at his office, where we chatted in general about what he might want to create at the station. We agreed to take it forward, but not until McClure finished a couple of huge projects at News Channel 10.
Near the end of the year, we got back in touch. I drove back out to the TV station and we chatted more specifically. Then he made his pitch: Why not write a blog for our website? We then can take that text and we can develop an on-air news report and we can reference the “Whatever Happened To …” feature on NewsChannel10.com; how does that sound?
The proverbial light bulb flashed on. I can do this. We shook on it.
I’ve been writing the blog since early February.
I’m still writing for Panhandle PBS, which I’ve been doing since October 2012, about two months after my daily print journalism career came to a crashing halt. That gig remains a huge kick for me and I enjoy the relationships built at Panhandle PBS. The beauty of writing for two TV stations — one commercial, one public — is that they aren’t competitors. The PBS work involves writing about public affairs TV programming; the News Channel 10 work involves more straight reporting, which I believe is a skill journalists never lose once they learn how to do it.
McClure’s hope, as I understand it, that we’ll be able to blend print and broadcast journalism into a new creature that hasn’t yet been defined.
I’m still trying to grasp the impact of all this. I tell people I see all over Amarillo how good it feels to get back into the game.
I am having a serious blast.