Twenty-five cents a column inch.
That’s what Mr. Randy Bartley, the sports editor of the Jeffersonian Democrat/Brookville American reported to me when he told me how much I’d make being the beat writer — it was probably called a stringer, but beat writer sounded so much more official — for the Brookville Area Softball League.
What a gig back in 1986. I had just finished my junior year and was heading into the summer looking for something to do when it came to writing sports. I’m pretty sure I hooked up with Randy during my work with the school newspaper The Beam, at Brookville Area High School.
That was the going rate and I faithfully covered just about every doggone game in the league that year. And I made my 25 cents per column inch. With access to microfilm, only I would consider going back and seeing how many inches I actually wrote.
So Randy gave me my start in the newspaper world. I was actually paid to hang out at Comet Field watching the guys I’d already grew up watching, including my dad’s team and my slow-pitch softball heroes.
I moved on and into the college ranks at Grove City College, I believe picking up a few assignments when I could. I remember writing up recaps for the original Brookville Flag Football League that pre-dated the Lumberjacks and was played for many years at Zufall Field. I did the reports, but I honestly don’t remember going to any games.
From college into the working world, I landed first at the Clearfield Progress and from there, the Courier-Express, which at the time was already tied into the family of newspapers that included the Jeffersonian Democrat.
I left the newspaper business as a full-timer for seven years, working at WDBA in DuBois, and when the station was sold to a regional network, I lost my job. A few months into my unemployment, I got a call from Randy who was looking for someone to replace Mike Carnahan, who was leaving the area for another job.
So there Randy was again, getting me started back at my hometown newspaper I toiled for as a teen-ager. I’ve been here now since February of 2008, nearing a decade of covering my community and the region as well, raising a family and getting involved in youth sports, basketball, baseball and yes, flag football.
It’s a model Randy embraced years before me and it’s one that made this community much better. He’ll still be around after his days here as longtime editor of the Democrat comes to a close, now focusing some of his energy as a member of Borough Council.
Perhaps gone are the days of sharing sports and Marvel Comics trivia in the office, and interesting discussions on the Civil War, World War I and II and anything involving the history of Brookville, but Randy will continue to throw his efforts into the area.
I have no plans to stop from my neck of the woods, either. It’s too much fun.
That’s my view from Main Street. Thanks Bart.
Rich Rhoades is the sports editor of the Jeffersonian Democrat and the Leader-Vindicator in New Bethlehem. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.