Post-Herald XBy Wade Kwon
One of the hometown success stories is Alan Hunter, an MTV pioneer and Birmingham native. He helped put MTV on the map, then found his way home to help push for progress in the city.
I met him while hanging out in the early years of the local film festival. He was kind enough to share some insights on his career and his vision for the city, which I published earlier today.
He started working for the cable channel 25 years ago today. In a strange coincidence, I started working for the Birmingham Post-Herald 10 years ago today.
As you may know, the newspaper closed down 10 months ago. And I haven’t looked back.
Except for today.
Before I worked at the P-H, I was stuck at a job I had grown to hate. Even worse, I was trapped. After a year-and-a-half of sending out résumés, I was no closer to finding a new company.
It was heartbreaking. I didn’t know how to network or anything related to sniffing out leads.
My pal Leanne (who used to be my boss at another paper) worked at the P-H after a stint at the local publishing sweatshop (many of my friends did time there). She let me know about an opening for a copy editor/page designer in her department, features.
It was ideal. I applied in February 1996, and the process dragged out for months. In early July, I was offered the job.
I knew another reporter there who used to live across the hall from me at the apartment complex. He had profiled me when I had written Wade’s 101 for the local alternative monthly, making me one of about three people in newspaper history to have been featured in the paper before working for it.
When I started, the newspaper was in its last two days as a morning paper. I turned heads in the newsroom from the moment I walked in. That’s because when I had interviewed, I had long hippie hair. A few days before I started, I had it all chopped off.
Stop the presses, indeed.
On my third day, it had switched cycles with the other newspaper to make it an afternoon daily, the last of a dying breed.
I didn’t care. I was in a good job with autonomy and a chance to raise the bar. I made friends fast, especially with the copy editors who worked the crazy hours.
I learned so much in nine years: what makes Birmingham tick; what makes the newsroom tick; what ticks me off. I had opportunities to grow and lead I might not have had at other newspapers.
We kicked ass, and a few times, we had our asses kicked.
I loved a lot of it, hated some of it and tolerated quite a bit.
To this day, I still have people come up to me and say, “I love your stuff in the Post-Herald. How are things at the paper these days?”
Yeah, everybody loves an underdog — even when it’s been run over and rotting in the street.
It would’ve been nice to have made it to 10 years with my beloved newspaper. Times change, businesses fail, people move on.
Still, I remember a time when I could walk into that tired old newsroom, morning, noon or night, hear the phones ring, hear the editors gripe, watch the reporters and photographers run for the exit as a scanner blared out an emergency.
Post-Herald, thanks for everything.