By Mike Steely
I was born the day after Christmas in 1946, seventy-five years ago. I’m one of the first Baby Boomers and find myself now as a husband, father and grandfather. I met my wife in high school and she and I have moved here and there around the nation as I made a living in one form of media or another.
That began with writing poems in high school before becoming a petty officer and journalist in the Coast Guard which led to work with daily and weekly newspapers, a short stint as a radio and magazine advertising salesperson, and thirteen years traveling the southeast for an Ohio publishing company.
So we’ve lived in Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Washington, D.C., Kentucky, Louisiana and California but not in that order. My two boys were in and out of schools throughout our family’s relocations. For several years my wife and I operated and then owned a newspaper in my birth town and that was indeed a family business with her keeping books, my selling ads and writing stories and our boys circulating the paper. We even managed to win a Tennessee Press award for promotion of the paper.
I credit the Coast Guard for my start in journalism but, more so, I credit the typing class I had in high school. I’ve had all sorts of typing machines over the years, from typewriters to computers.
I’ve covered some very interesting stories in my career including murders, wrecks, shootings, suicides, local and federal lawsuits, government meetings, elections and even storms and various law enforcement agencies.
I’ve met and or interviewed lots of notable people over the years, from pop music stars, a future president, senators and representatives, mayors, sheriffs and police chiefs, and members of the community. I’ve never been arrested or charged with breaking the law except for a couple of speeding tickets.
Given my age, and I come from a family of long lifers, I’m in fair health. I don’t need a cane except now and then and I still have most of my mental facilities. I guess that’s debatable.
My wife and I have lived in Knoxville for 24 years, the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere. We are fortunate to have a comfortable home, good cars, and our sons and grandson live nearby.
I have always prided myself on being open and receptive to others and their ideas and have a few very old friends who stay in touch. I try to be fair and professional about the stories I write and, thanks to a good publisher, have enjoyed lots of journalistic freedom working with The Knoxville Focus. I may not always agree with him but I was once a publisher and I understand the importance of letting your staff have a pretty free hand in what is written. The Focus staff is great and our two editors are fantastic and help me and other writers look our best.
I’ve learned over the years how to honestly interview anyone, whether I personally like them or not. Everyone deserves a fair break and an interesting story. I know I’m not the best news writer nor the worst, but my old brain keeps coming up with ideas and ways to approach a story.
Here’s wishing everyone a very productive and Covid-free New Year. Hope you enjoy The Focus as much as we enjoy publishing it. We are all proud of this newspaper and work each week to bring you the best news, sports, opinions, advertising and features.
I’ll see you again in 2022 because there’s lots of news out there and it is going to be interesting, to say the least. Hope your family and mine continue to thrive in health and safety.