Tag Archives: High Plains Public Radio

Time still flies by

Time does have this way of getting away from most — if not all — of us. Why that observation? Well, it dawned on me earlier today that this is the 10th year since I walked off the last full-time job I ever would have.

It has been a marvelous ride ever since that amazing moment in an equally amazing day.

It was Aug. 31, 2012. My employer informed me the previous day that the job I had performed at the Amarillo Globe-News would go to someone else. I worked as editorial page editor at the Texas newspaper for nearly 18 years. I thought I did a good job. My employer, I was left to presume, thought differently.

So, he informed me that my task would fall to someone else. I went home that day and returned early the next day to clean out my office. The very first item I tossed into the trash can was a stash of business cards with my name on it. Gone! Forever!

I walked away. On the way out I had one final meeting with now former employer. The conversation was an unhappy one. I left the building. I called one of my colleagues on my cell phone. I said “so long” to him and hung up.

Then, while sitting in my car, I cried.

That all occurred nearly a decade ago. You know what? I have gotten over that anger, and the pain of that moment. I have moved on. I am no longer angry. I no longer hurt. I no longer miss the daily grind of meeting deadlines and writing commentary.

I have had a number of part-time jobs in the years since. I write this blog each day. I am getting more proficient at using social media to spread the musings I post. I have written for public television, for commercial TV, for a community newspaper in New Mexico, for a major metropolitan daily newspaper in Dallas, for a public radio station in Commerce, and for a weekly newspaper near the city where my wife and I moved. I also worked for an auto dealer in Amarillo and for six months I worked as a juvenile supervision officer for the Youth Center of the High Plains, a detention center run by Randall County.

I have declared myself to be a highly adaptable human being. My life has provided proof of that declaration. I am damn proud of the career I pursued for nearly 37 years, and I am equally proud of the adjustments I have made, with enormous help and support from my wife of 50 years, sons, daughter-in-law, sisters and their families, in the life I have led for the past decade.

Time is still just flying by. It does that when you’re having so much fun.


This retirement journey keeps taking strange twists and turns

Retirement is so much cooler than I thought it was when I entered this world just a few years ago.

I have been able to devote more time to this blog. I have been able as well to sleep in if I choose. My wife and I have taken our fifth wheel recreational vehicle on lengthy and not-so-lengthy trips to hither and yon. We have been able to spend more time with our precious granddaughter.

I also have just begun a gig as a freelance reporter for a couple of Collin County weekly newspapers.

What’s more, today I got to participate in a live radio broadcast. Yes, a live event. It went on the air as we spoke the words. Did it make me nervous going in? Uhh … yes. It did!

However, it worked out far better than I expected it would.

I’ll now set the stage.

Mark Haslett is a friend of mine who works as news director for KETR-FM, the public radio station affiliated with Texas A&M University-Commerce. He plays host to a weekly radio show called “North by Northeast.” It airs each Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Did I mention it’s a live show? Oh, yeah. I forgot.

Well, I also write for KETR-FM’s website. Haslett asked me to be a guest on his show. I agreed, knowing it’s a live event and also knowing it would give me the heebie-jeebies.

I have spoken on the radio before. It was in 2008 in Amarillo, at High Plains Public Radio. Haslett worked at HPPR then. National Public Radio wanted to talk to journalists who worked in vastly different political environments during an election year; NPR sought out someone who worked in a Republican-leaning “red” area and a Democratic-leaning “blue” region. I got the call to talk to NPR about the Texas Panhandle’s outlook for the upcoming presidential election. NPR did a great job of editing the audio we produced, making me sound cogent and coherent.

This live gig was a different animal. There would be no editing.

Haslett and I talked about Texas politics, the curious recent controversy involving the lame-duck Texas House speaker, the state of journalism in today’s changing media climate and I even got to share a couple of extraordinary experiences I enjoyed during my 37 years working as a print journalist.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this wonderful new experience was that it went by like lightning. They told me at KETR this morning that it would fly by rapidly. Oh, man … they were so right.

Before I could barely catch my breath, the hour was done. Haslett signed off. I leaned back in my chair and heaved a sigh of relief that I didn’t mess up.

Could I do this again? Yes. Probably. Just not right away. I have great admiration for those who talk for a living. I prefer simply to write.

In defense of National Public Radio

I want to rise in defense of National Public Radio, even though NPR really shouldn’t need little ol’ me to defend it.

I spoke the other day with a friend in the media business and she mentioned what I consider to be something of an urban myth about NPR. It’s that it’s considered to be “too liberal” for folks in the Texas Panhandle, this bastion of rigid, rock-ribbed conservative Republicanism. My friend, I should add, doesn’t share that view, but merely was telling me what she has heard over many years from friends, colleagues, neighbors and everyday strangers.

NPR’s critics are well-known. Another friend, the great editorialist Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has referred to NPR as “National Propaganda Radio.” I’ve conversed over the phone with Republican U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry’s staff members who feel compelled to whisper the term “NPR” when talking to me; they don’t want their colleagues in Mac’s D.C. office to hear them saying nice things about the public radio network.

It’s all hogwash.

I have two points to make about NPR.

First, High Plains Public Radio came into existence in the early 1980s, headquartered in Garden City, Kan. But in the late 1990s, HPPR opened a studio in downtown Amarillo. It came here thanks to the hard work of several prominent Panhandle residents. One of them was Mark Bivins, an Amarillo businessman who hardly could be labeled a flaming liberal.

I have talked with Bivins at length about HPPR and his take on it simply is that it presents news and analysis fairly and without bias. That’s why he is such an ardent supporter of HPPR’s mission in this region.

My second point is a bit more specific. It concerns the Affordable Care Act and the media’s coverage of it. Another friend, Mark Haslett, is a former newspaper colleague who, in his previous life, was employed by HPPR at its Amarillo studio. He’s a longtime broadcast and print journalist who understands the concept of fairness and bias in reporting the news. Incidentally, Mark has returned to public broadcasting.

Haslett told me some years back that NPR had handed down an edict to its member stations that the effort to change the nation’s health care system shouldn’t be called a “reform.” Haslett said NPR’s mandate was to refer to it as an “overhaul.” The term “reform,” Mark said, connotes an improvement; “overhaul” is a neutral term that doesn’t tilt the discussion in either direction.

Therein lies an example of the fairness and objectivity that NPR seeks to build into its news reporting.

Is it deemed too “liberal” by some folks here? Sure. I accept that. I also must insist that those critics are viewing that particular medium through their own bias. If a news organization doesn’t present news and analysis to fit their own world view, then it’s biased.

I’ll stick with National Public Radio any day.