New office, j-school students, OU speech


What’s two-months old, black and white and red all over? A baby skunk with diaper rash!

What’s two-years-old, black and white and read all over? The Yukon Progress!

I thought I would wake you up just a little bit with that humor and write about the excellent week we had as we closed out the March madness of relocating our offices upstairs to the third floor where we turn organized chaos into the weekly Okarche Warrior, Piedmont-Surrey Gazette and bi-weekly Yukon Progress newspapers.

Monday, April 1st (April Fool’s Day) is our two-year-old birthday and I invite you to stop by the office where Conrad Dudderar will be handing out $100,000 to the first 5 people who can correctly guess the number of bylined stories he has written during the past 30 years.

Since it will be April Fool’s Day, I know you will not fall for that, but you can still come by the office with your guess!

A few weeks before spring break, I had a phone call from two female journalism students at the University of Oklahoma who had been assigned the task of interviewing an Oklahoma newspaper publisher to learn how the local newspaper had interacted with the community throughout the years. One of the students told me that her Department Chair of Journalism, John Schmeltzer, Ph.D., had assigned the town of Okarche to her and her friend and they wanted to interview me before they left for spring break. The young ladies arrived at our office, pen and pad in hand, very professionally introduced themselves and began to ask me specific questions as we sat down for the chat.

It was interesting talking face-to-face with this generation and getting to watch the expressions on their faces as we discussed the most relevant events in Okarche’s history and how the nearly 120-year-old Calumet Chieftain newspaper was transformed into the Okarche Chieftain and then just two years ago into the Yukon Progress.

The girls asked me what the biggest story in Okarche’s history had been and watched them listen intently as I described the only time in North America that the Catholic Church had ever celebrated the beatification of a priest. The priest I described was Father Stanley Rother from Okarche (who was well known in Yukon) and that edition of the Okarche Chieftain traveled all the way to the Vatican where it was read by Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis).

The girls loved hearing about how the biggest story I have ever been a part of in 30 years, happened in Okarche, Oklahoma and the eyes of the world were watching in awe!

I also talked about how Eischen’s Bar had burned to the ground in 1993 (35 years ago) and how again that news story went around the globe courtesy of CNN and the newly invented internet! The girls laughed at me when I told them I graduated college and the internet was invented two months later.

I sent a set of Eischen’s drink cups and several Progress beer label T-shirts back to OU for Dr. Schmeltzer and invited him to Canadian County for a beer at Grady’s or some fried chicken in Okarche. I hope to have him sitting at our front row table next year at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce banquet.

I received an email this week from the University of Oklahoma-Engleman/Livermore Department of Journalism. Since I was always friends with Clinton Daily News Publisher Charlie Engleman and Edmond Sun Publisher Ed Livermore, I was honored to see that John Smeltzer had written to me. I don’t think he would mind me sharing this with you so I will!

Hi Randy,

Two of my students visited with you prior to spring break and they briefly described their visit in class for a paper they are writing. Would you be willing to drive over here (to Norman) on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon in the next two weeks to talk about what you are doing? It’s fascinating for me because at a time when many people say print (media) is dying, you are expanding further into print. The class meets at 3:30 p.m. Can you make something work?

John Smeltzer

I accepted John’s invitation and will be speaking with the OU students next week. I remember so many guest speakers I had the opportunity to hear, some 30 years ago that had such a big influence on me.

I am a product of Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Oklahoma. I am so lucky to have been taught by the first person in Oklahoma history to have earned a doctorate in journalism, UCO’s Dr. Ray Tassin and Oklahoma State University Department Chair of Journalism Dr. Marlin Nelson.

I learned the newspaper business from the great Yukon Review newspaper publisher Randel O. Grigsby who was a journalism graduate at the University of Oklahoma. I somehow find this all very humbling that during the same week as we celebrate the birthday of the Progress, that I have been chosen to talk to our future journalists at the University of Oklahoma.

I promise you, I will give them my best effort to represent Yukon and Canadian County. I know Randel will be watching.

Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?