Public School and Beyond

Print This Page Send This Page To A Friend

The balance of my public school education was in Silver Spring with 8th and 9th grades in Montgomery Blair Junior High ... 10th, 11th and 12th in Montgomery Blair Senior High.

In case you are wondering who this Montgomery Blair guy was, he was a lawyer and the Postmaster General under President Abraham Lincoln. His innovations as Postmaster General included money orders, prepayment of postage by the sender, free rural delivery, and the sorting of mail on railway cars. He also discovered the "silver spring" my hometown was named for. No, it wasn't silver ... it was natural spring water bubbling up through a bed of mica. Blair found it while horseback riding through the area in the 1860's.

In senior high, I managed to maintain good grades and was also active in some extracurricular activities. Although I wasn't an outstanding athlete, I was on the Blair track team three years and was a letterman. I ran the mile and half-mile.

In my junior year, I took a journalism course and loved it. That led to my appointment in my senior year as editor-in-chief of the high school paper Silver Chips. It also steered me into the career I would follow as an adult; journalism --- specifically radio journalism. The shift from newspaper to radio occurred in college. This might be as good a time as any to tell you about it.

It happened in my sophomore year at the University of Maryland. The long version of how that happened takes forever to tell so I'll give you the short version.

I was, at the time, the News Editor of the Maryland paper, The Diamondback. I had also been covering an ongoing story about scholarship abuses in collegiate basketball recruiting. Maryland was not implicated but the suspicion was there anyway. So the University's Board of Regents was named to investigate. I wrote an editorial suggesting an impartial panel should have been appointed, instead. The University President William "Curley" Byrd hit the ceiling. He demanded that the paper retract the editorial and said I, personally, should apologize for writing it. Hell would freeze over before that would happen. And I told a reporter for the Baltimore Sun so. My language was more polite ... but the meaning was clear.

When all the dust settled, I had been kicked off the staff of the Diamondback. More than half of the staff resigned in support of my position. I never intended to be a campus rebel, but I was one long before it was fashionable.

So what about radio?

Maryland had a little radio station, WMUC. It mostly played records and had no news programming at all. A couple of the guys who had quit the Diamondback and I approached the WMUC management and offered to do a 15-minute news show each night. We did the reporting and writing. They provided the airtime, a typewriter and part of an office to work in.

In the beginning there were just three of us. Eddie Herbert did the sports news, and Dave Biesel and I did all the rest. It turned out to be popular.

Later, we got more students involved. Eventually, we obtained a United Press wire that delivered national and international news to our little newsroom. We even did campus election night coverage reporting on the vote-counting and interviewing candidates. We also did play-by-by coverage of Maryland basketball and baseball games.

Nobody is indispensable. Despite losing all those campus rebels, including your Grandpa, the Diamondback thrived just fine.

But, so has WMUC. These days, it even delivers news and sports on the Internet. From three guys and a typewriter, it grew into quite an operation.