Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Journal of Thanksgiving


OK. I don’t know how professionally meaningful this post will be. I suppose for some journalist new to this market or for some journalism student, it might be useful. It’s going to be kind of like buying stocks for the long haul, not day-trading.

This Thanksgiving I feel very blessed. No, I don’t have a gig other than this blog, a mainly gratis PR/publicity effort, and my music. No, I don’t have much income, therefore. But, I feel very grateful, very thankful, and very blessed.

I came here in 1970 sick unto death of news. In Waco all I covered was dead people and civic club speakers. My creative drive was only satisfied by the scores of feature stories I dreamed up. Also, I got to use a very cool Bolex camera. (No zoom. It had a three lens turret.) So, when I got here, I sold time for KTBC AM and FM, and I got to know the Johnson family and all their friends in the business.

It didn’t take me long to figure it out, and by the end of 1971, I was back in broadcast journalism. Yes, there were ventures out of the business. Working for Bob Bullock was an adventure. Those who knew me in that era are aware of the wild ride. All the while, however, I becoming more and more an Austinite.

When I first came to town, Austin was the 100?+ market. Really. It really was. So, without moving in 38 ½ years, I’ve jumped to the 49th market. Saves on moving expenses.

More than that, however, it leads to roots. Many, if not most people in journalism do not get the opportunity to put down roots. It starts with having a real life beyond a virtual life only existing in a TV, radio, or newspaper newsroom. It means having friends in the real world, friends who don’t move. Oh, I have wonderful friends who have moved to the east and the west. I love them all. But, I can’t see them often. They, therefore, are an embellishment in life, but they cannot be part of the fabric of a life. Roots people are special. Journalists are fortunate to have roots friends.

Staying in one market also leads to a lifestyle. Maybe it is related to George Carlin’s treatise on “stuff”. Now, stuff isn’t terrifically important. I’m in awe of my friend Bruce Whiteaker and wife Shirley Whiteaker who eliminated their stuff and became mobile, able to respond quickly to the next opportunity or adventure. They are in Knoxville now. Stuff, however, becomes attached to the roots through association. You know, whenever you move from one place to another, your friends help you move your stuff. Or, you and your friends go places and do things together and you, thereby, accumulate mementos (aka “stuff”).

You see where this is going.

Anyway, after 38 years here, I may qualify as “Old Austin”. Research says most people watching TV haven’t been here for more than five years. So, I must be really, really “Old Austin”. I’m good with that.

More than “good”, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that the communications industry and the audience have tolerated me for these years. I’m thankful for my wife who is so supportive in so many ways literally. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to make a living—make a life—mainly in broadcast journalism for close to four decades in one place. That one place is a very, very special place too. My thanks to my undergraduate college roommate and Austinite Rick Bays for bringing me here in the first place back in the ‘60s. Little did I know back then …………………..

I give thanks, and I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

(c) Jim McNabb

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jim, I'm enjoying your comments and your reflections on Thanksgiving.
In a future blog, could you comment on doing a live standup at the scene of the original accident, fire, robbery, etc. hours or even days after it happened. The worst is at ten in a neighborhood using a well lit wide shot.