Yesterday was my final day at The Commercial Appeal. I’m going to take a little break. But to your regret, relief, or disinterest, Memphis will still have my byline to kick around.
The Commercial Appeal, like all places populated by writers and editors, is full of good people trying to do good work, and quite often succeeding. I have nothing but admiration for my now-former colleagues there and for those who moved on in the years since I arrived. In the absence of another compelling opportunity within this city, I may well have been there as long as they would have had me, though like most Memphians I lament the paper’s shift toward being a corporate cog in a Nashville-centric Tennessee network.
But I was coming up on five years at the kind of place — the traditional daily newspaper — I never really planned on being. I was ready for a change, and I was worn out by the regimented five-days-a-week flow of the The 9:01 column I’d been doing for the past couple of years.
At its increasingly infrequent best, I thought The 9:01 was pretty good, and though it drained me over time, it was definitely good for me. It helped broaden the scope of topics I wrote about and helped fine-tune my voice. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to former editor Louis Graham, who took an unconventional chance in hiring me from an alt-weekly and who was the primary catalyst for what became The 9:01. Former digital director Danny Bowen came up with the title/time concept, a bit of genius I came to regret on mornings when that deadline loomed too near. Former digital editor Gary Robinson, now living his best life as a retired grandfather, shepherded it to completion in those first few months when I was just getting the hang of it. New editor Mark Russell kept it alive after Graham’s departure. Former (sensing a pattern?) sports editor David Williams and his successor Dave Ammenheuser let me be me — at any length — in my weekly Pick-and-Pop Grizzlies/NBA column.
Before shifting into a columnist role, I was somehow granted the privilege, as an editor, of directing a staff of John Beifuss, Bob Mehr, Jennifer Biggs, Michael Donahue, and Mark Richens. The first name on that list really threw me for a loop. I was a fan of John’s before I was a friend and a friend before I was an editor. Former features editor Peggy McKenzie was gracious in showing me the ropes.
I can’t say too much at the moment — information will be forthcoming. But I’ll re-emerge later this summer, writing about many of the same topics in many of the same ways, but in different formats and at different frequencies. I love living in Memphis and I love writing about it. I look forward to continuing to do both.
Until then, you can still find me on Twitter at @ChrisHerrington and @HerringtonNBA (though I’m thinking of folding those into one feed) and, when I’m not on vacation, still on the radio at 10 a.m. every weekday on “The Geoff Calkins Show.”