I’m Signing Off, But Not Checking Out: It’s Been Nice Talking To You!


IdeastreamPublicMedia.org, By Rick Jackson, Posted June 21st 2023

How are you supposed to say goodbye to a lifestyle, an occupation, a calling that you’ve spent your lifetime to achieve?

As I enter the waters of retirement this week, after 45 years swimming in the waters of employment – I’m told it’s time to look backward, to reflect on successes achieved and also on what could have been done differently, even what could have been entirely avoided (as if I’d plan to do it all again someday).

Interestingly, the things I’m most proud of don’t have to do with radio and TV at all – 41 years of marriage, fatherhood to a remarkable man, faith in God, and being dependable to people who needed me. But that’s outside the realm of what working at Ideastream Public Media and broadcast outlets prior have meant.

It does seem odd to me that this phase of life concludes with my full-time gig being as a radio host, when the ambition from childhood was to be reporting on camera. But then again, my first-ever job (1978) was also in radio, because it was initially hard to break into television.

From there followed a travelogue of broadcasting life, two radio and six TV stations in West Virginia, Memphis, Cleveland, Charlotte and Philadelphia – four years at CBS News in New York, and then a departure from commercial broadcasting for the journalistic diversity of public broadcasting.

And with this stop came a richer discovery of what local journalism can be. Discussions that have not just meaning, but depth. The opportunity to make real differences in people’s understanding. The impact that words have across the community, and the idea that broadcasters are teachers too.

What I’ll miss are the regular interactions. Not only people who have worked closely alongside me, but the students who watch “NewsDepth,” the guests who frequented both “Ideas” on television and the “Sound of Ideas,” on radio, and the many folks I shared time and stages with at events I’d moderate, programs I’d host, debates I’d arbitrate or even just people I’d bump into at a concert, play, film or game.

Note that it’s only a retirement, it is not goodbye. I’ll continue to be involved in this community we love, keeping my hand in the game as asked, serving on boards, volunteering – things that keep one vital.

Leaving the “Sound of Ideas” is bittersweet. But I look forward to this next chapter with gusto – and without an alarm clock.

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