Goodbye, So Long, Auf Wiedersehen

December 24 is my anniversary.  It was five years ago on this day that I sat at the anchor desk at WREG and said goodbye.  Not many people watch TV on Christmas Eve which meant that not many people saw my farewell.  Some of the managers were okay with that.  Some I had worked with for years didn’t even bother saying goodby to me or goodluck or don’t let the door hit you on the way out.  I still have people asking me where I went.

It was four years ago this week that I started my blog, inspired by my good friend/former WREGer Jamey Tucker and by Peggy Philip, then news director at WMC.  I remember my wife asked me why I started blogging in the first place.  She asked me “Are you going to make any money doing this?”  I told her “No, I just enjoy writing”.  Now she’s wondering why I’m pulling the plug.  (She tells me she caught up on what was going on in the media through my blog.  She could have just asked!)  When I first started blogging, I still had a pretty good idea of who worked where.  I even managed to break a few stories of what was going on locally.  I’ve also managed to raise the ire of managers at the local stations with my various posts.  Some emailed me, others called me.  Some talked to me on the record, others strictly off the record.  I’ve had some write me nasty emails but not sign their real names. (Note to those I irritated AND have worked with: People tend to write the way they speak and that is usually a dead give-away on who they are).  That, plus looking up the IP address narrowed it down.

When I first started blogging, I was posting three times a week and sometimes twice a day.  Then it settled down to about twice a week.  Over the last year it petered out to about once a week and then really fell off.  My last post prior to this one was more than a month ago.  Quite frankly, it became work and it was work that took a lot of time and paid me nothing monetarily.  I quite honestly had gotten to the point where I really wasn’t watching the local news and it’s hard to make observations about the wackiness of the local broadcasts if you don’t watch.

I will admit that that blogging has helped me reconnect with folks I haven’t heard from in years.  When I broke a story and it was picked up by NewsBlues, I heard from former co-workers from around the country.  It was great fun.  I even caught up with a former Memphian now working in Brazil.  Thanks Chris for making this an international read!  I also made a lot of c0ntacts and found that I could always count on some folks to chime in on particulars.  “The GM” usually stepped up to the plate to answer TV’s business related questions and then there were the regulars who would jump into the fray.  Except for a few folks whose toes I stepped on, most folks who responded kept it civil and I really appreciated that.  There were only a few “haters” out there who insisted on being ugly to the point that I just automatically blocked their comments.  Oh, they’d change their user names but it was always the same old, same old.  As I’ve said on many occasions, if you don’t like what I’m posting, don’t keep coming back.  It’s like watching a local TV station; if you don’t like what you’re watching, change the channel.  It’s one of the things that makes this country great.  We have choices.

I will admit I have been overwhelmed at times hearing from you.  I had not been posting for very long when my father died of cancer after a 9-month battle.  I posted on his death and called it “A Great Man Died Today”.  The comments and emails I received moved me to tears and I have re-read some of those comments over the years and I’m still moved.  I had a friend of mine come to my defense when I was accused of being a racist by someone who apparently uses that accusation every time there is a disagreement with someone.  Actually, I’ve come to expect to hear someone use that accusation against someone else in the 20 years I’ve lived in Memphis.  It was the first time I had been accused of it.  A good friend who happens to be black/African American posted that he was disappointed that all the times he had been in my company and all the times he had been at my house for dinner or whatever that I had never been racist to him and he was rather disappointed.  Also, it might surprise one of my daughters in law (she is a woman of color) that I’m a racist.  I think she and my son would disagree.

One of the reasons I posted on this blog was to stay connected (to some degree) with the newsroom mentality that I grew addicted to over the course of 25 years of being in the business.  People ask me to this day if I miss being in the local news business and I tell them I miss some aspects and don’t miss others.  When I’m asked about the glamor side, I usually respond with “what part of getting up at 2:30 or 3 o’clock in the morning is glamorous?  What part of working just about every major holiday sounds like fun?”  I tell people that the only difference between being on-air and any other job is that when you are on-air and you make a mistake, everyone sees it.  And that’s why I never really understood these “on-air” folks who smiled the big smile on TV and then treated people off-air like crap.    I used to joke that to be successful on TV all you had to do was “learn to fake sincerity”.  That was always meant as a joke but some people tend to take it seriously.    Still, there is a side of the TV news business that I do miss.  There is a feeling in a newsroom and among newspeople overall that is really hard to explain.  It takes someone who has been in the news business to understand and appreciate it.  To some degree there is a “gallows” humor with a hint of cynicism and for lack of a better word “crustiness” that winds it way through the newsrooms I’ve worked in.  Maybe it’s how the crews deal with the daily dose of deaths, murder, mayhem, corruption and the constant weathergasms that seem to prevail in the course of a normal news day.  I DO miss that.  I’ve been offered the chance to get back in the business a couple of times and I’ve passed up on the opportunities because I really have enjoyed a normal life.  Occasionally I feel the tug  and consider going back into the business but so far, I’ve enjoyed NOT having to beg to be off on a holiday or during a ratings period.

I started thinking about the news business again this past week when my best friend told me that after several years of being away from the broadcast side of TV and doing a great job in the TV business related sales, that he was going back to a weather gig over toward the West Coast.  I started thinking about the fun times and the good times of being back on the tube and I know my friend will do well.  He’s the most natural born salesman I’ve ever met in my life and if anyone can sell weather to an audience, he can do it.  But for me, at this point, I’m not quite ready to go there.  Still, I learned a long time ago to never say “never”.  Who knows, one day I might be back in the business.  But for right now, I’m still plugging away with Lead Dog Video, my video production company, where the boss can be a jerk and the employee an a**hole.  Yes, I’m both.

So, for now, I plan to devote even more time to getting my business growing and that means less time blogging.  One day and perhaps sooner than I think, I may approach a manager with my hat in hand to ask for a job so I can get back in the biz.  But that isn’t right now.

I want to say thank you all for taking time to read over the past four years and for taking time to write.  If I made any of you stop and think, or laugh, or get angry or just helped you pass the time of day when stuck at a computer at work or at home, then it was worth it to me.

So goodbye, so long, and auf wiedersehen.

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33 Comments on “Goodbye, So Long, Auf Wiedersehen”

  1. DMH Says:

    This sucks, Joe. Just remember, the internet isn’t going anywhere. We’ll still be here if you decide to come back.

    So long, and Merry Christmas.

    – autoegocrat

  2. joelarkins Says:

    Hey, I appreciate that and there is a possibility that I will be back at some point in time. I just hate doing something half-way and if I’m not going to blog on a regular basis, where you can expect to see something on a pretty regular basis then it’s not fair to the readers. BTW, I want to thank you for checking in on a regular basis. It was always much appreciated.
    Regards

  3. JoeLarkins#535Fan Says:

    I have read your blog for a long time and actually would try to check every day to see if there was an update.

    I am a little sad that this is the final one but I totally understand how priorities are.

    Thank you for the fun reads. I’ve never been in the news business but it was great to see what it’s like from the inside from my all time favorite journalist.

    Take care and may you have a great Christmas!

  4. Brad Says:

    I don’t remember exactly how I found your blog and I’m certainly not in the “business”, but you’ve always been a pleasure to read. As a native Memphian and hometown history buff, I’ve got to tell you some of the memories that you’ve recalled and posted here have been quite intriguing. Sure, you’ll be missed. But, I understand that sometimes you’ve got to move on. Take care, Joe.

  5. db Says:

    Joe,

    I am a lurker who has commented here only once that I remember, yet I shall miss your comments and insights.
    Do us all a favor. Sign up on Facebook if you haven’t already. (I’ll search for you when I leave here.) You can leave a comment whenever you wish, stay connected with friends (hint: be selective), and not have the “pressure” to write on a regular schedule. Your insights have been measured and marked by your true journalistic background. I shall miss your posts, but hope you will give the Facebook thing a try. Peace be with you, Merry Christmas and a Happy 2010!
    P.S. Maybe the GM will share his Facebook personna so that those of us who find his comments so useful can continue to benefit from his/her knowledge.

  6. missingmemphisintheozarks Says:

    Joe,

    I’ve read your blog since you started, and I will miss your writing. You’ve helped me to keep in touch with Memphis since I’ve moved. And no, I’m not in the news business, either.

    I wish you and your wife all the best.

    Merry Christmas!


  7. I have read your blog for a long time and actually would try to check every day to see if there was an update.

    I am a little sad that this is the final one but I totally understand how priorities are.

    Thank you for the fun reads. I’ve never been in the news business but it was great to see what it’s like from the inside from my all time favorite journalist.

    Take care and may you have a great Christmas!

  8. jack church Says:

    Joe,

    Say it ain’t so! That was a beautiful piece you wrote and I like many have said will truly miss your columns. In fact I’m more than a little sad now but certainly understand. We’ve known each other many, many years now and even when we don’t talk on the phone or see each other in person your blog gives me a glimpse of what is going on in your life as well as the others around you. Oh well, guess you better get ready for more phone calls and visits from me!

    Merry Christmas to you, Bethany, the puppies and all the rest of your gang!

  9. joelarkins Says:

    Jack,
    Remember you said you wanted me to post on something? Merry Christmas to you, Pam and your brood. Be careful traveling as well.
    Regards


  10. Joe, you will be very much missed for the great insights you provided into the media business, and I hope you feel like coming back at some point.

    Have a wonderful Holiday.

  11. joelarkins Says:

    Hey, I’m flattered you would think I had “insights” and that you kept coming back to check in. Happy holidays.
    Regards

  12. JD Says:

    Hi Joe!
    Being a Memphis newspaper/radio/television history junkie, I am terribly saddened to see you go.

    You, like very few others, have had that unique persona (and professionalism) which encouraged reading information more than once, just to make sure something wasn’t missed the first time.

    Some of the older heads became mere caricatures of themselves. Younger people left them behind in hushed tones of “SNZZZ!” which, became louder the more they appeared.

    To be candid you never have been mundane. You have left your mark. I will miss your views and behind the scenes tidbits. I would be remiss if I didn’t suggest an attempt at teaching. Maybe a semester course in broadcast journalism to see if the shoe fits. Maybe you could help break the current mold of chameleon clones.

    You embodied Morrow’s words: “We cannot make good news out of bad practice.”
    I cannot recall any bad practice on your part.

    Go well and stay well my friend!
    JD

    • joelarkins Says:

      JD,
      I once considered teaching but could never reconcile teaching folks to go into a business that was changing and shrinking at the same time it offered little reward monetarily and virtually no long term stability. I appreciate your kind words and for weighing in over the years.
      Regards

  13. Midtown Mark Says:

    “Stallion, it’s a shame we had to go and get old.”

  14. joelarkins Says:

    Neigh you say!
    Regards

  15. Byron Day Says:

    Joe-

    I had a feeling something was up when the blog didn’t change for a few weeks! Like you said, after awhile it became “work”-and that’s no fun.

    Thanks for taking your time to do this. It’s been great keeping up with the “gossip” from Memphis tv, as well as the thought provoking messages. I,too, am one who thinks you could help the “younger generation” learn more about the CRAFT of journalism, even as it’s morphing into something we probably never dreamed of when we all started years ago.

    Take care, and come see us in NC!

    Byron

  16. joelarkins Says:

    Byron,
    It’s always been good to hear from you. And thanks so much for your kind comments. The next time I get to the Triangle of NC, I will give you a shout.
    Regards

  17. Chris in Brasil Says:

    Joe,

    I remember the last time you and I had coffee talking about pulling the plug. I hope you don’t, even if you blog “de vez em quando”, from time to time. Your blog is always an interesting read. I’m the guy from the sidelines that enjoys reading the posts from the professionals! I appreciate you allowing me into this world!

    A few years ago I was bored, sitting at my computer. I saw some YouTube videos and wondered who had all this spare time to post videos of old newscasts. Then I wondered why people would have those old newscasts to post! But I was glad they did. I saw you and Mary Beth Conley and decided to google your name. Up came your blog and the rest, as they say, is history. I was actually nervous posting the first time.

    I’ve enjoyed our coffee together and hope we’ll do that again soon. Thanks for my walking stick. It’s sitting across from me in my den, as I type. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely wife, who I finally met in August when you gave me my walking stick. I’ll keep your blog on my Mac’s favorite list and continue to check back.

    Take care, Deus te abencoe!
    From Sao Paulo, Chris Julian reporting…

  18. Andy Wise Says:

    Joe,

    I wish you and Bethany the best. You always brought joy and humor to the job…and wisdom to the blog!

    Andy Wise
    WMC TV Action News 5/wmctv.com

  19. Pam C. Roberson Says:

    Say it ain’t so, Joe! I’ve always enjoyed your posts, but I understand why you feel the need to end it. Let’s just call it a ‘hiatus.’
    Merry Christmas to you and Bethany!

  20. Doug Johnson Says:

    I guess I’ll have to call or come by the house to find out what’s on your mind. Well, we’ll always have Bardwell…

  21. ready camera one, take two Says:

    An era is gone.
    Thanks Joe, for the time you put in to keep us fact-checked, challenged and changed. You made it a fun read. It will be hard to delete the bookmark of your blog from my favorites.
    BTW, any truth to the rumor that you and Donna Davis are the new anchors at 24? (Sorry, just trying to stir something up before you go.)

  22. the tall tv guy Says:

    Joe, I have enjoyed coming here, reading your insights and behind the scenes info that shed a more realistic light on the local tv news business.

    Whether we’re working for ourselves or for someone else, most of us are working a lot harder and longer hours for less pay.

    I wish you and Bethany well, and hope some day to run into you and introduce myself.

  23. mike Says:

    dude, ive been on this site for years. you are how i found out our friend peggy left wmc, i also sent you a few emails and whatnot about our views of the local media! good luck on your endeavours! i am always we are always behind you!

  24. The GM Says:

    Just this evening ESPN reported Urban Myer is resigning and I was shocked. Not an hour later I decide to check-in on your blog and I read your news.

    I’ve enjoyed your posts and the opportunity to chime-in from the business end. TV needs more folks like you. Do us all a favor and get back in it.

    All the Best,
    The GM

  25. The GM Says:

    Hey Joe, thanks for the mention in your post. I love this business and the people who dedicate their lives to it. I won’t post as often as you, but if anyone has a TV business related question, I’ll be happy to try to provide and answer or just insight. Contact me here. http://askthetvgm.blogspot.com/


  26. Hey Joe,

    Sorry to see you go away here, but completely understand. Coming from one who has to update all of the daily content and compile our own weather here on our site in VA, it is work!

    You have made a difference here Joe. You’ve given those of us that once worked with you, and those who haven’t, a chance to reconnect and talk over the biz from time to time!

    I met lots of nice people through doing stories, who later became friends, because of you. The late Mr. Sweat in Ripley comes to mind, and I got my gig for years at Ag Day (enter Al Pell) because of you, suggesting I ask them about doing it. Heck, you’re a nice guy!

    Good luck out there, belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    Tommy

  27. AMNewsBoy Says:

    Joe, your blog has been a whole lot of fun to read; thanks for sharing it with us. It’s been a pleasure!

  28. Chris in Brasil Says:

    Dear Joe,

    I think the overwhelming majority of folks chiming in here is summed up with Bob Newhart on one of Johnny Carson’s last shows,

    With all due respect, coming from a relatively new friend, stick around, chime in from time to time, break a story, share what’s going on. Just don’t turn out the lights.

    Abracos,
    Chris J

  29. Eric Says:

    Joe,

    As has been so eloquently stated above, thanks for the blog and sharing your insight, talents, experiences, etc. with us. My only connection to the news business is a first cousin who was at 5 for 10+ years and got the ax during their last big round of cuts. I’ve always found the dichotomy very intriguing…fascinating at times and others, very cruel. Your words have so often echoed those sentiments, and your connection to the other side of the camera via this blog was very apparent.

    Good luck on the business and God bless your endeavors.

  30. Kalup Says:

    Joe,

    I will miss your blog. I read it all the time, only commented on it once, I think. I’m working my way into the business (right now I’m just doing little stuff at ASU-TV and KASU-FM) and always enjoyed your insight into the business. I’ve learned quite a bit from just reading your blog. Thank you so much.

    I wish you luck to your company.

    Kalup

  31. Lew Says:

    I’ll certainly miss reading your opinion and insights! Good luck with the business, but if you ever have the itch to write a little more, we’ll be ready to read!

  32. Ken Says:

    Thanks for the blog Joe. It was quite informative and a substantial means by which I learned of what was still going on in the local newsrooms. I will miss it.


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