Wednesday, October 22, 2008



It's a good thing Boyz II Men released that song, 'cause I stink at the sappy stuff. But today, the sappy stuff is sadly an obligation of sorts.

You're holding in your hand the very last issue of the QC-Leader. The closure came as a bit of a shock to us all, but given the current state of the economy, I suppose it's not particularly surprising. Still, it's almost like a death in the family.

I was an unemployed college grad in 1995, and I'll admit it, kind of a mess. I'd been supporting myself by DJ'ing at a night club on the weekends, but the club had just gone belly-up and I was completely jobless and reasonably helpless. That was when I bumped into an old friend, Nikki Zeger, who told me about an opening in her department -- selling classified ads for the Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.

"Ohh, I doubt I'd be any good at that," I remember telling her. My only sales experience up to that point was working behind the counter at a record store, and I'd been canned from there after forgetting to lock the place up one night. But Nikki assured me that it was a fun and relatively easy gig, and I figured it'd be a temporary way to pay the bills while I sorted out my life.

Well, apparantly I was the only sane person to apply, because I somehow got the job. Thirteen years later, I'm still at that "temporary" job. Once I realized what a great company I had lucked into, suddenly that desk chair started getting pretty doggone comfy. Still, there was something missing.

Word had eventually gotten around the office about my unhealthy obsession with pop culture, and thusly I'd been called upon to write a few entertainment articles for the paper. It was fun, but nobody knew my REAL passion. I wanted a column. I wanted a column SOOOO bad. Each week, I would read our columnists with an envy and jealously almost criminal. Eventually, I figured I had two choices.

(1) Kill current columnists Sean Leary or Johnny Marx. This seemed impractical, plus I'd kinda miss the dorks. Besides, I pass out when I see blood, so I think I'd be a sucky murderer. Ergo, I settled on (2): Inundate our editors with sample columns and pleas.

I'd done this two or three times to no avail. Each time, I was told that they liked my stuff, but it just wasn't the right time or right fit. I'd resigned myself to despondency when the great Russ Scott asked me if I'd ever tried submitting anything to the Leader.

Wow, I'd never really thought of that. To a Rock Islander like me, the Leader was kind of the forgotten stepchild of our family of newspapers. It was a great publication, don't get me wrong, but it only came out to Iowa -- and only once a week. Surely they had a crowded pool of material to draw from every issue, right? Still, I fired off a couple sample columns regardless. Two hours later, the call came.

"So," said the voice of Leader editor Michael Romkey, "Can you start this week?"

And for that week and the 204 that have followed, it's been my pleasure and honor to come into your homes. Why ANYONE would care about the ramblings of a hopeless slacker is still beyond me, but I've been truly humbled by your support over the years -- even YOU, crazy cat lady who writes me all the time. My only hope is that maybe I got to serve as a momentary distraction to the suckier bits of life.

And now its time to put the old girl to bed. It turns out that the only thing more expensive than a gallon of gas these days is, apparantly, newsprint ink, which has risen in price some 35% this year alone. Seriously. Look at your hands right now. See that ink smudge? Your thumb's now worth, like, $1.40. That kind of a price hike just makes it impossible to effectively circulate a free paper every week.

Some people point to the internet as the downfall of the newspaper industry. I think that's a load of hooey. While it's true that even I get most of my national news online, there will ALWAYS be a need for local news and a guide for community events, and there will ALWAYS be businesses that need to advertise their products to the local market. Advancing technologies aren't spelling the end of our business, just a new way to DO that business. The future might be different, but it IS still bright.

In the meantime, though, we are losing a dear friend in the Leader. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as we've enjoyed putting it out every week. For those of you who can, I strongly encourage you to call up and get an affordable subscription to the Dispatch or Rock Island Argus, where I'll continue to amuse/annoy you every Sunday. If not, check us out online and say hi every once in a while.

I leave you with the Beatles, who once said, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make," even though I have NO idea what that's supposed to mean. Still, it's appropriately sappy. I think.

The Leader is dead. Long live the Leader!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

aw, huge bummer! I live in Iowa & your column was always the highlight of the Leader for me. Hope you continue to blog.