I don’t want to give away my speech at the end of the show, but I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s meant to be the host of the program.
The parade of journalists who have joined me on Week in Review has been amazing. I’ve learned something from every one of them. Most got it. They understood how valuable appearing on a show like ours could be for their organizations. Some of them acted like they were doing me a favor by appearing, but not many. Of course, we got blown off a fair few times. People who just didn’t show up, or would call at the last minute. Some had legitimate excuses … some didn’t. But for the most part, everybody was very professional.
I made a few friends among the journalists … but not many. And nobody that I hang out with. I don’t know why that is, but it is. I guess we all have lives and families and divergent interests.
I still remember the fist show we did. The guests were Boaz Dvir, who at the time was the editor of The Business Journal, Bob Snell, who was the editor of Folio Weekly, and Rob Sweeting, an anchor at Channel 4. I don’t think I have a script from that first show, and I don’t remember what the topics were.
We had intended to do the show pretty casual. The concept was to re-create a newsroom atmosphere after deadline. If you’ve ever spent any time in a newsroom, you know that there are always aspects of a story that don’t make the package, the spot, or the paper. I don’t know if it’s always the most interesting bits, in fact is really shouldn’t be, but there’s always something.
There’s also the stuff you learned from a source on background that you were honor bound NOT to put in the story. The things you learned while researching a story … that was what we hoped to discuss during the course of the show. Not just another talking head show … and not some political free-for-all “shoutin’ show”. And we wanted to keep it as local as possible. There were plenty of places people could hear discussion about national politics and issues. We wanted to focus on things happening on the First Coast. We’d talk about a national issue, or national politics, or state issues when they made sense. We’re not on an island here (well, technically, I am. But there are bridges connecting me to the mainland. And the studio is on that side of the ICW). But nobody else was doing in-depth discussions of city council on a regular basis, or the mayor’s office, or the school board. In that, we provided a unique source of content about local issues, and it’s that of which I’m most proud.
Being the host of the show had it’s moments. I sometimes reveled in being with a group of people and having someone approach me and say “I watch or listen to your show every week”. But there were times when it was a pain in the butt. Like the time we were killing time in Atlantis in Nassau on a Saturday. Someone came up to me in the casino in the hotel and said “who’s hosting the show this week?” I really didn’t expect to be recognized in another country, even if it was only 100 miles off the coast of Florida. I’m sure it was someone who had boarded a cruise ship in Jacksonville which called on Nassau … but still.
Just this summer, a guy on Brendal’s dive boat recognized my voice. I think I told that story when I was writing about our vacation.
I was also fortunate to welcome great guests to the show. I interviewed Governor Crist, Former Attorney General Janet Reno, Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Ander Crenshaw, and probably most notably, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Locally, Mayor Delaney, Mayor Peyton, every council president over the past 8 years, Sheriff Glover, Sheriff Rutherford, School Superintendents John Fryer, Joseph Wise, and Ed Pratt-Dannals. Chairs of the School Board … candidates for office … a parade of officials and newsmakers.
But like all good things, it’s coming to an end. Johnny O says they’re going to post the last show online … which we’ve done for the audio all along. I’ll link to that here when it happens. I’m also hoping that we can do a lock-down video feed of the call-in show when it comes online. It won’t be like real TV, but it’ll be something.
To be honest, I’m really looking forward to doing the call-in. I won’t have to wear a suit, I can be more myself, and it won’t be on Friday … so more 3 day weekends could be in my future.
So, to steal a line from Charles Osgood … I’ll see you on the radio.