Friday, December 20, 2013

I Was NOT Mis-Quoted...."

 Recently, a newsletter I receive from former fellow employees at the San Diego Union-Tribune asked if any of us had ever been interviewed. 

Really, it was asking if anyone had ever been victimized by the media?

Well, I responded, I WAS surprised when I met with the selection committee as a finalist for Director of Tourism for the State of Missouri in the 1970s.
Not surprised that I was a finalist - I knew I was very qualified - but stunned when I walked into a board room in the Capital and saw media was present.

 Yes, press and TV people were in the same room while I was being interviewed. Yikes.

A video camera was rolling, and two men with pads and pencils were making notes as I described to the committee what actions I would do first if I were chosen to be the Director.

This was still the selection process...not a press conference by the new Director!

I didn't know if the other contenders for the job had the media join in for their discussions.

But it was unsettling that news people were sitting and standing at the end of the board room table as I responded.

It's one thing to talk to the people who would be your immediate bosses.

This was completely different.

Everything I said COULD be quoted to the ultimate audience of people I would be serving - the 5,000,000 residents of the Show Me state.

The expression "this could come back to haunt me" passed through my mind.

I started to tick off my vision of how the state could and should be promoted.

How advertising dollars might be spent and target consumers selected.
None of the media interrupted as I spoke or while I answered questions from the committee members. The print guys jotted down my words as I tried to avoid looking directly into the camera.

We recapped the seven years I had been with the Convention & Visitors Bureau promoting the Kansas City area.

I reminded them I had made many trips to St, Louis .

And to the  Lake of the Ozarks and the Branson "Music City" area as well as down into the "bootheel" in the lower right hand corner of the state.    
 I realized I was talking on two levels: 

1. For the selection group in the room and  2. For the media message to the general public, the citizens of Missouri.

They might get an advance peek as they heard and read about this 40-year old man who -- maybe -- would be spending tax dollars to bring millions of visitor dollars to the state.
It took me two hours to drive from Jefferson City back to my home in Kansas City.

My mind was trying to remember all that I had said during the interview. 

When I got home I found my wife had been called to let her know that I had been named the new Missouri Director of Tourism.

I can't remember now if a committee member had called or a newsman.

Here's a picture of me the day before I drove over to the middle of the state for my interview.

I was pretty sure a clean shaved face was a good move if I wanted to be chosen for this public role.

I could always grow another beard.

Next, I got to meet the governor who, I found, had backed a different candidate for the tourism position. 

The news was full of details about his reaction to that!
No, I was not victimized by tv or newspapers and I thoroughly enjoyed my four years in print and on the evening news.

I even got to blow up some dynamite!

Local officials helped me push the plungers at a "ground breaking" media event. 

This was for a new State Information Center being built overlooking the HarryTruman Twin Stadium Sports Complex.

During my time in office we added three new Visitor's Centers to make a total of six.

(Click on the photos for more details. Not all will get much larger.)

The explosion expert in KC had suggested a quarter stick of dynamite. "Hmm," I said, "so half a stick would be really dramatic!"

He also added a bucket of flour to enhance the image.

We were pelted with dirt and stones and dusted with a white coat of powder!

Loved it.


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