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Marg-Ins Tuning In
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The world is becoming a much smaller place, what with people able to connect via the Internet, and I recently had the chance to re-connect with someone I worked with years ago.

It may have been just a few email messages back and forth but the sheer fact that I found this person, simply by typing in his name on Google, still amazes me. I'm not even sure what got me thinking back to my radio days, but I did and his name popped into my head so I just thought I'd see if he was out there somewhere.

Yes, I know technology is a wondrous thing but I nonetheless find it fascinating that you can reach out and find someone after more than 20 years, having had no contact in between then and now.

I first met this person when I was in college, looking for some way to break into the news business. I was finishing up my second year and my English professor, who had helped me get an internship (paid by the column inch for stories) at the local paper during the school year, was trying to assist my job search for the summer.

He had heard that a radio station was coming to town and suggested I go there to see if they needed anyone ... to do anything. The fact we were getting a radio station at all in itself was big news; the rural part of New York State that I grew up in was served primarily by the 'big' stations in Albany, the state capital, about 45 to 50 miles away.

So my professor gave me the address and I headed over to find out if radio was in my future. When I got there, I had to double-check the address because there wasn't really a building ... just some concrete slabs and framing, lots of wires and some sheetrock.

The man who appeared to be in charge noticed my quizzical look and wondered what he could do to help. He happened to be the general manager of the still-under-construction building that would house the radio station and even though they had the bulk of their staff ready to go, he said they could use a news 'stringer.'

That meant I would be paid, by the assignment, to go cover a town council meeting or the county Board of Supervisors, maybe a court case, just depending on what they needed. He figured they could use me for a couple of assignments a week and I was happy to accept, knowing that it was a way to use my journalism training. It started out just as writing about the meetings I covered and turning the copy over to the newscaster. Then they started letting me pre-record my own stories to 'drop in' to the newscast.

It began a career in radio that has since given way to print, but re-connecting with the former station general manager - who I got to 'see' via video clip on the Internet at a broadcast engineering trade show describing a new product the company he now works for is selling- brought back some great memories.

At the time I started stringing, I also worked for Head Start (teaching was my other career option) and while I moved from news 'stringer' to part timer pretty quickly, it was about six months before I was offered a full time post at the station. That's when journalism truly called and the career path was set. In fact, after a relatively rapid succession of news people that didn't work out, the general manager decided to just train me and promoted me to full time, putting me on the air.

What I loved about the radio station in that small rural upstate New York town was what I love about working for a small weekly newspaper in California: Variety. People. Connecting with the community; the listeners - or readers. Being invested in and caring about who and what you are covering.

Yes, it's a tremendous thing that I can go online and get caught up with a long-ago boss on the twists and turns our lives have taken over the course of the two-plus decades it has been since we've seen or communicated with each other.

But, these days, with the Internet allowing us access to more places than we ever imagined, it's just as tremendous that people take the time to read the printed word, and maybe even clip out a story or a photo from our paper for a scrapbook.

That's something special a small town paper can provide ... great memories to make you smile, a few miles - or years - down the road.

Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.