For the past dozen years I’ve written your stories.
Now, I’m taking some time to write my own.
Over the coming weeks, I’m packing up and heading westward to my new home, Los Angeles.
Living in L.A. is something I have wanted to do for years. Decades even, maybe. But I always found a reason to give into my fear of discomfort, a fear that only grew as I got more comfortable here. Why walk away from everything I have built and earned, not the least of which is the peace of mind that my family and friends are here, I make a good living, I could transition to another opportunity possibly, and sometimes people tell me how much they appreciate all that I do and have done?
Because some itches simply must be scratched.
And though there is more I could do, it just feels like my work here is complete.
Earlier this year, after The River City News officially became part of LINK nky but the old RCN logo still hung on the wall, I was alone in the office on Madison Avenue working and listening to music. If you’ve ever popped in the office during my late evening work sessions, you’ve heard my affinity for “yacht rock” or classic adult contemporary music. Old-soul stuff, I guess. On this night, as I was drenched in a blend of work and melancholy, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Read My Mind” came on and one of the lyrics from the chorus struck me.
I never thought I could feel this way and I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it/
I don’t know where we went wrong but the feeling’s gone and I just can’t get it back
For me, the feelings I had for the grind of local journalism and really, this home, were gone because my heart kept drifting toward California. When I sold RCN last fall and also departed my role as host of WVXU’s daily Cincinnati Edition, I was continually asked about the next chapter.
But in those lonely evening moments in the RCN/LINK office, as Gordon Lightfoot sang directly to me, I understood: This wasn’t the beginning of a new chapter.
The other book had ended.
Just like a paperback novel/
The kind the drugstore sells
And my new book hasn’t started yet.
This in-between feeling has been emotionally and creatively burdensome and I don’t like it. So it’s time for part two, chapter one.
The fear of discomfort and change, it’s still with me, and though I hate to admit it, as it’s all become official, it has only grown. I still know, though, that this is right.
I was cleaning out my desk at LINK the other night and I couldn’t really force myself to feel nostalgic or sad. It was the same as when that old RCN logo finally came off the wall. I thought then I’d try to write something profound and reflective about all the years I struggled and hustled mostly on my own to keep a daily newspaper going, and all the stories we told there.
But the words never came because the feelings weren’t true.
It may as well have been me being pulled off that wall and replaced.
My time here was over. And that’s OK.
I am a guy who believes in positive thinking and visualization and so, at the risk of revealing too much about me, I like to print out images of things I want, and I look at them and focus on them so that I stay inspired and committed.
As I was cleaning out my desk in LINK’s new office on Innovation Alley, I pulled a folder from one of the drawers and opened it. Inside was a photo I had found online during the pandemic of an industrial-style downtown Los Angeles loft.
It looks almost exactly like the one I’m moving to.
That feeling, at that moment, it was true. And exciting.
Now, let me be clear: leaving LINK is not easy and emotionless. But those lonely nights in the old RCN office with Ambrosia or Kenny Loggins or George Strait playing on the speaker, they’re over. And the new office is filled with so many talented writers who are covering your stories here. The office is like a real office now, with real people doing real work – not just journalism, but like, office work, fixing paper jams, ordering supplies, and crowding the refrigerator with forgotten lunches from home. It’s so weird!
I am probably only leaving now because I finally can. The work here will continue thanks to LINK and the people who make it possible.
It used to be just me and a handful of contributors running all over town to government meetings – so many government meetings – and sports events and business openings and weekend festivals.
For nearly a dozen years I barely had a real day off.
I’ll miss telling the stories, but not the relentless grind.
I can recall during one of my trips to L.A., I was walking around Pasadena enjoying the day when I got word that a judge had ruled on the long saga of two local hospitals battling for position in Northern Kentucky. I had my laptop with me, because I had to have my laptop with me, and ducked into a coffee shop to start making calls and produce the story.
Another time, I was on my annual summer vacation in Northern Michigan, and had just checked out of my hotel in Mackinaw City ready to cross the Mackinac Bridge to hike in the Upper Peninsula when I got word that the Burlington store in Latonia was closing to relocate to Newport. That’s a big deal here! I put the laptop on the trunk of my rental car so that I could still use the hotel’s WiFi and cranked that story out before continuing with my holiday.
It was day after day of basically either being at work or being on call, and a moment of fun or leisure could be spun on its head with one email or call or text message or social media post.
The work was always on my shoulder.
But for the most part, it was fun. I got to break a lot of important stories and edit a lot of content from my team (my heart is so grateful to people like Patricia A. Scheyer, Brian Frey, Connor Wall, Dan Weber, Jason Finnell, and Melissa Reinart who worked with me to tell our stories in the RCN days) so that Northern Kentucky had a sense of itself.
I anchored coverage of every election cycle in our region since 2012 through this past November.
I was a go-to guy for master of ceremonies duties at events all around the region.
Anyone could knock on my office door or approach me at a local hangout or give me a call to talk about what’s happening here.
It has been an amazing career.
When I was a student at Scott High School, I hosted the morning announcements on the school’s TVs every morning as well as the school’s public access show. I also published a neighborhood newspaper and hosted and produced the subdivision’s public access show.
I graduated from Northern Kentucky University and landed a reporter/fill-in anchor job at age 23 at 700 WLW radio and then became senior producer of the FOX19 Morning News at 25. I launched The River City News in 2011 and concurrently created the morning news on WNKR/WNKN radio, earned a master’s degree, taught public speaking at Ivy Tech Community College, and then scored that daily talk show gig at WVXU which I held for three years.
Most challenging, I learned how to run a business – the scariest part of the whole experience.
And I know, despite all those career achievements the one item I’ll be best remembered for is the day the Goebel Goats got loose on their parade route and ran rampant around Covington, an event that I broadcast live until the last goat was wrangled again.
“Goat Boy” some still call me, seven years later.
Better than not being known at all, I suppose.
There is a lot that I could reflect on here as I put away my reporter’s notebook for the last time, but it’s not necessary because all of it lives on as an historic record, and in our memories.
I remember that when I was launching RCN, I did a lot of research about newspapers in Covington and Northern Kentucky over our history. These publications, most long forgotten, retain an important role in informing our present. They told our stories and those stories still exist because those papers were there.
For the past dozen years, I have told those stories. A hundred years from now, people will know what happened here during this period because of all that writing and editing.
That is incredibly fulfilling.
And it would not have been possible had it not been for all of you embracing me as your local voice of reason, truth, and integrity. I am grateful for the opportunity that you all gave me.
I want you to think back for a moment to 2011, the year that RCN launched, and remember what downtown Covington looked like. Think about what your own part of NKY looked like.
And think about what it all is now.
What an incredible ride, what a special time in our local history.
Thank you for letting me tell it.
My storytelling days are not over. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do in L.A., or if anyone even wants to hear from me creatively. (I really, really hope they do.)
But I know that I want to hop on the subway downtown and work in the big city and hang out at the beach and hike in the mountains and eat tacos from a truck and enjoy endless sunshine for a little while.
And when my inspiration comes to put pen to paper again, it’s this place, Covington and Northern Kentucky, that shaped me into who I am and created the humor, the drama, the weirdness, and the optimism that bounce around in my head.
If you could read my mind, love/
What a tale my thoughts could tell
Yeah, I’ve definitely got many more stories to tell.