It’s the end of the road for me.
Journalists are told to avoid clichés but in this case it seems appropriate. After 13 years, I’m leaving the Vallejo Times-Herald for a job as a public information officer at Caltrans in Oakland. My last official day is Wednesday.
This is not an easy column to write as I have developed a multitude of relationships with area administrators, coaches, athletes and readers. In some ways, it’s also the end of my career as a journalist after 25 years, although I will be using my writing skills with my new position.
When I started at the Times-Herald, we had 18 editorial staff alone – seven news writers/designers, three sportsmen, six reporters and two photographers.
As I write this column, we have five in the editorial staff with a sixth position in limbo.
Some of these former employees have moved on to other jobs, and others have unfortunately been terminated by the “evil empire”, also known as Alden Global Capital.
As I mentioned in a previous column, journalism sometimes feels like the rock and roll “death rattle” that Lester Bangs described in the movie “Almost Famous.”
I tried not to let it affect me though. If you demonstrate integrity in your own work, the end of the day is fulfilling, no matter the circumstances. Alden may be hoping I leave a broken man, but nothing could be further from the truth.
As you can imagine with a small team, we are pushed into more diverse roles. When I came to the Times-Herald, I was writing sports and design pages. Now I do news and sports budgets, edit copy for our newspaper and The Reporter in Vacaville, and still manage to write about four or five stories a week.
Although I don’t mind the long hours, it has become more difficult since my daughter Charlotte was born about five years ago. Just this week, we didn’t have a babysitter available, so I brought her to the Benicia-Clayton Valley softball game. She enjoyed the fruit snacks and some of the attention, but got restless over the last two runs.
She’ll probably benefit from me being home more at night than being bundled up at a North Shore Section football playoff game in Windsor.
That doesn’t mean I won’t miss those nights. Every year I look forward to summer when we have a short break, but every August I can’t wait for the fall sports to start again. I have been fortunate enough to see a number of breathtaking sporting events over the past decade.
What I miss perhaps most are the confidential conversations I had with athletic directors like Josh Ramos (Vallejo), Jeff Turner (Bethel), Craig Holden (Benicia), Lane Hawkins (St. Patrick- St. Vincent), Jill Stewart (American Canyon), and Erik Visser (Solano). All of them have been totally supportive over the years, although they may have grown tired of my texting during the pandemic, asking for updates.
My colleague Thomas Gase will handle most of the sports writing duties after I leave. Thomas is one of the hardest working journalists I have met in 25 years. I try to tell him to slow down but he rarely listens.
Until January, I worked with Richard Freedman, another journalist who didn’t know how to press the pause button. I’ve always been envious that Rich had so many more smart ledes than I could imagine.
I will also miss working with editor Jack Bungart and photographers Chris Riley and Joel Rosenbaum. The Solano community is lucky to have all these guys around.
I will not leave completely. I submitted a list of my top candidates for Athlete of the Year this summer and I’m sure I’ll receive follow-up questions from colleagues. Let’s hope that this project can continue despite my absence.
I’m also open to freelancing some sports stories after settling into my new job, but who knows when that will be.
I googled a list of songs that referenced roads and I guess my favorite from the list might be The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues”.
Most appropriate, however, is John Fogerty’s “The Old Man Down the Road”.
Maybe some of you will think of me one day if this one ever airs on the radio.