It seems a bit odd, in this age of 700,000 plus podcasts, to be starting up a blog. Is there anyone out there NOT hosting a podcast? Some might wonder if this new project is born out of COVID boredom–my friend King Harris, for example, has spent the last few weeks organizing thousands of old 45 RPM records he has in his garage. Thankfully, I’m still gainfully employed and hosting a radio show keeps me busy.
But there’s a chapter in my life that seems to be slipping away and I thought it might be time to try and preserve some of it. Since 1989, I’ve been a professional writer, meaning I’ve been paid to write. Name it and I’ve probably scribbled it–newspaper articles. Magazine articles. Books. Ad copy. Jokes. Screenplays. Speeches. Book chapters. Short stories. Writing was what drew me to California originally in 1987 as I fled an academic career I neither enjoyed nor desired.
After bouncing around a bit, I ended up at the San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune in August of 1989, beginning a 9-year relationship with a small town newspaper that gave me the best experience any fledging writer could desire. There is no better writing classroom than to write day after day, on deadline, on a wide variety of topics–and to have those words edited and critiqued. From 1993 to 1998, I wrote “Man About Town,” a series of columns, some more memorable than others.
A second writing opportunity came my way in 2005 when Chris and Mary Gardner launched a new local weekly newspaper, SLO City News. Even though I had a full-time radio gig, I missed the writing. I missed the deadline. So I returned to writing more stories for a new “Big Yellow Taxi” column, inspired by the classic Joni Mitchell phrase about how “they take paradise and put up a parking lot.” That’s how I feel sometimes about my beloved San Luis Obispo.
My main creative focus continues to be on writing scripts. But all those newspaper columns and feature stories stare at me off the bookshelf in my home office. I have no false allusions here, but I wanted to post some of these articles online to folks a better sense of a specific time and place. A better sense of some of the experiences I’ve had in nearly 35 years in California, chasing the dream.
When I began my radio show at KVEC in 1992, my new colleagues greeted me with suspicion–I was a writer pretending to be a radio person. Nearly 30 years later, the situation has flipped–my radio colleagues are surprised to know of my background in writing.
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