B-minus

This hasn’t turned out too badly.

When we’re young, we’re asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My high school guidance counselor asked me that a long time ago At the 55th anniversary of Sullivan (Illinois) High School’s Class of 1959 I asked Mr. Buckner if he remembered that I answered “a reporter” when he asked me that question more than 55 years ago. He knew that’s what I had become when I asked if he remembered what I had said.

Miss Richardson had the students in her College Composition class write a paper toward the end of our senior year called, “What I see in my future.” I still have that paper.

————

My future will actually begin in about seven years, after I have completed my college work and have served my time in the Army.

After my discharge from the Army, I shall attempt, and get, a job on a newspaper. My job may be small at first, but eventually, through some good luck and a lot of hard work, I shall advance steadily until I become the editor of my department. Then I shall begin to write a column which will eventually become syndicated and appear in most of the major newspapers in the United States. I shall wait a few years before making my next step, but then move on to radio, if radio still exists by then.

At first, I will probably be the guy who announces the call numbers and times, gives “spot” announcements and “flash” news bulletins. After a few months of that, I will be given a regular news program. I will cover special events and happenings, reporting them as accurately and sensationally that I will receive much attention from larger groups, mainly television officials.

My first job on television will be that of newscaster, but in a few years, I will rise to national fame after being given a network show to emcee. I will remain with television for a few years, but then return to my first love, the newspaper.

After becoming so widely known as a television and radio personality, I could probably get a job with any newspaper I wished. I would work on that newspaper for many years, saving my money, and, when I saw the chance, I would buy a small-town newspaper of my own. I would leave the big cities and settle down in a little town and there spend the rest of my life.

——

Never made it to a military service. But in the summer between my sophomore and junior years at the University of Missouri, I walked into the office of the Arcola Record-Herald, a small-town weekly about half an hour from home, and Harry Stonecipher, a Missouri graduate who was the owner/editor hired me. Before long I had my own column. It was the “50 years ago” column that recounted things that were in the paper a half-century earlier. But it was a column. During Christmas breaks, I got to cover a holiday basketball tournament for the hometown Moultrie County News.

Radio still existed by the time I started my senior year in the School of Journalism and halfway through that year, I started doing newscasts, then an all-night music show that included those station breaks and news stories (the only “flash” I ever saw was on the John Kennedy assassination).

I went to work for a network in 1974. Along the way there have been opportunities to dabble in television–just to prove radio people can do TV, I like to say.

The days are winding down now. Monday is the last day at this desk. That kid at the desk in Miss Richardson’s room on May 22, 1959 has lived the dream he wrote about. She gave the paper a B-minus for the writing. That seems like a pretty good grade for the prognostications in that paper, too.

I wonder how many of my classmates wrote something that turned out this well. Those who did—well, we’ve been the lucky ones.

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8 thoughts on “B-minus

  1. With your permission I am going to substitute your awesome support for our great Navy for your Army tour. So did serve your country. You have also served the Show-Me state in grand style and will be missed. Tom and Mike bid you a blessed retirement.

  2. Congratulations, Bob! Don’t be a stranger; keep writing about Missouri; the State I love.

  3. Bob,

    When it comes down to it, over a tremendous career, your entire legacy can be boiled down to one trait.

    To put it simply, you had the right stuff.

    Sincerely,

    Your friend (and future commander of Apollo 18),

    Clay Broughton

  4. Thank you, Bob. For your years of service in many different ways. Thanks for your guidance and support in my career along the way. Some of the lessons you taught me about my broadcast voice carried with me for years as I taught at Mizzou. These days, I think about my delivery when I do interviews. Recently, I caught myself talking to my son about the way he uses his voice as he considers launching a video game podcast.

  5. Thanks Bob for your many Thanksgiving talks at our church.
    I paid particular attention to your latest one. In it you told us of Governor and then Confederate General Sterling Price’s army’s approach to Jefferson City 150 years ago.
    I still owe you my paper on Confederate Col. David Shanks, who did not die crossing the Osage River near Taos as many authors have written erroneously. In 2011 I was pleased to find his parole document at the Missouri State Archives in the Provost Marshall’s records. He left Gratiot Street Prison in 1865 a free man.

  6. Bob- Congrats on retirement!

    Thanks for giving me my first job in journalism. You will always be remembered…

    News on the Missourinet,, I’m Steve Sliker…

  7. Any chucklehead can write their own paper for a class. It’s something special when they write into to a class of their own. Thanks, Bob. You more than made the grade. — MDH

  8. Thanks for your dedication to journalism. I have enjoyed listening to your stories and will miss your work. Please continue to share your thoughts through a medium. Thanks.

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