Hey, wait a minute. I’m a radio guy! When I first received an invitation to join The Daily Star as a columnist, I had to stop and think about it.
I mean, for two decades now, I have started my mornings off by putting on a pair of headphones and cueing up an old country music song. And now comes the bimonthly ritual of putting on a green visor and some sleeve garters and licking the end of an old No. 2 pencil to start scratching down my thoughts for readers instead of listeners at an old oaken desk in a dark warren somewhere at The Daily Star.
I read The Daily Star, sure. Doesn’t everybody? But to work there? Well, I am definitely not giving up my regular WDOS radio gig, but you will start seeing my column frequently within these pages. And that will be a challenging mid-to-late-life adventure that I am certainly looking forward to.
In 1959, our teacher took my whole class of youngsters on a field trip to our local paper, The Sidney (N.Y.) Record- Enterprise (now the Tri-Town News).
It was dark, musty, kind of scary and smelly. Ol’ John McLaughlin (publisher) remained crisp as a dollar bill throughout the tour of the work stations and printing rooms of the old paper. He reminded us to always “check the facts … and then check them again,” as he orated to us about the miracle of American journalism.
The little Tri-Town News was the only newspaper that I had ever been inside of, and that was 50 years ago. But still, I do have vivid images of what the inside of a paper should look like.
From the 1940 film “His Girl Friday” comes the image of the old roll-top desks lining crowded corridors. Reporters darted in and out of their offices hollering at each other with great urgency.
All of the women in the movie were secretaries, until, that is, Rosalind Russell whipsawed through the place shouting down every man she came in contact with, including Cary Grant. I haven’t seen a roll top desk yet at The Daily Star.
Badger-like reporters with hair over their collars shook the newspaper world to its foundation in the 1976 classic film “All the President’s Men.” This Watergate epic modernized the popular image of newspaper writers and editors. Gee, I wonder if I will ever be called upon to meet up with a local “Deep Throat” in a dimly lit alley somewhere along High Street behind The Daily Star building to trade confidential news tidbits some dark night?
On TV, I watched with great interest as blustery Lou Grant (Ed Asner) battled royally with his polished patrician publisher Margaret Pynchon (Nancy Marchand) week after week at the fictitious Los Angeles Tribune. I wonder what the walls hear when The Daily Star editor (Sam Pollak) closes the door for a meeting with his paper’s publisher (Tanya Shalor). Fascinating.
I have worked in radio long enough to know that the transition to writing will not be without its travails. On my radio show, I just turn on the microphone and start talking, and I have been talking since 1989 on WDOS. I’ve written several books, all of them about our upstate New York region and its people and history.
And yet, a regular column?
My loyal legion of listeners know that I am a storyteller, and that I love a good anecdote or factoid. You can rest assured that those familiar traits will surface with great regularity in my column.
I’m an observer by nature and a chronicler by trade. I look for the story that makes you question your sanity, the story that tickles your fancy, the story that puts a lump in your throat and the story that will make you say, “What the heck is he talking about?” We’ll take this new adventure together.
Oh, and one more thing. I’ll be keeping my eye out every time I drop by The Daily Star to pick up something or to meet with someone. And I’ll be looking for shades of, say, The Daily Planet from one of my great black-and-white TV memories of the 1950s, “The Adventures of Superman.”
Will Sam Pollak morph into a Perry White? Are there modern-day Clark Kents and Lois Lanes out there hunting down stories? Is there a cub reporter like Jimmy Olsen feverishly at work in the back room at the Star? I’ll let you know if they really are here or only in my mind.
After all, like I said, I am a radio guy, and I have surely worked with enough characters like Johnny Fever, Venus Flytrap, Les Nessman and Herb Tarlek to know that television and reality do indeed blend together once in a while, whether it is in Cincinnati or Oneonta.
‘BIG CHUCK’ D’IMPERIO can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his “Oldies Jukebox Show.” He invites you to contact him at wdosbigchuck@aol. com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar. com/bigchuck.
- Big Chuck
There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|
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- There's no tough sledding when you're a youngster|