On small town newspapers and microphone thrusters

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Folks at small town newspapers for any length of time have been subjected to “microphone thrusters” at Friday night football games.
Over the years, I have found that small town radio stations are faced with some of the same problems as country newspapers, principally a shortage of help that leads to a lot of double duty. And, despite some natural enmity, bred by the competitiveness to be the best news medium in your town, there comes a natural tendency to latch onto a little help from “the enemy” in certain situations. That enmity never seemed to spill over into real war. Some even conceded that helping each other out never seemed to be impeded by the competitiveness.
Having never been eaten up with hearing my own voice, I was taken aback when, early on in my country newspaper career, broadcasters in little towns had no compunction about thrusting a microphone under my nose whenever the “need” struck them. At first, the idea of “aiding the ‘enemy’” was just a tad bothersome, but then when you view it as a little free publicity and exposure on a competing medium, that somehow makes it palatable, particularly when they let me say, “And, you can re-live the game via a detailed description in The Ol’ Hometown News.”
We didn’t have a radio station in my hometown. After two years of college, I returned to Ol’ Hometown to be the news editor of the weekly paper. Prior to my sitting in the editor’s chair there, I became acquainted with a guy who was in the furniture business but was signed up to record a play-by-play of the game and broadcast it via a neighboring town’s radio station on Saturday morning. We sat next to each other in the “press box” at the Friday night game and every so often J. Ernest would suddenly thrust the microphone under my nose with a “tell us what happened on that play, Willis.”
He and I got to be pals, and at each game, he seemed to rely more and more on commentary from me to help flesh out his broadcast. And, I learned to be ready with some descriptive and explanatory comments that began to seem quite natural, that is, after I learned to expect the mike at measured intervals, because J. Ernest’s voice would get tired.
In another town in my nomadic newspaper meanderings, a station owner who’d mouthed derogatorily about my newspaper, found himself asking me to explain some play or another because, frankly, he didn’t know enough about football to be broadcasting play-by-play much less sensibly commenting on any aspect of the game. And, I had begun my career writing sports because I wanted to be the World’s Greatest Sportswriter, the next Grantland Rice, acknowledged as The Greatest in the first half of the 20th Century.
Early on in my small town publishing career, I found that small town radio station owners had little detailed knowledge about the game…usually just enough to get by calling the contest in a small market. And, many didn’t hesitate to call on almost anyone in the “press box” (a loose description in many little towns) to issue statements about the football game. Ultimately, I did publish in a couple of towns where the station owner/manager hired someone knowledgeable enough to do play-by-play and also someone who could do analysis and commentary on the grid contest.
Part of that was “moving on up” to markets that had a radio station that could do a game broadcast much more professionally and microphones were no longer thrust under my nose for quick commentary.

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