The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

August 29, 2013

I'm not Jack Paar, but the situation seems familiar

By Brian Graves, News Editor

Thursday, August 29, 2013 — It was in the early 1960s when television host Jack Paar walked off “The Tonight Show” live on the air in front of millions of viewers following a dispute with the network.

Three months later, he returned to that plum job and his first words after being introduced were, “As I was saying...”

I sort of find myself in that same situation.

When I left the SNAP in March, it wasn’t because I was mad at anyone.

There had been an opportunity offered that had everything I could not turn down.

I was having a wonderful time in Burke County and was very happy with where I was both career wise and location wise.

There was no reason for me to leave.

Well, there wasn’t until I got a phone call.

“Would you consider coming back?” was the question from a very familiar voice.

“Well, I’ll come talk,” I replied.

So, I took the two-hour ride from Morganton back to Albemarle and talked with my friends here at the SNAP and left humbled and nervous knowing I would now move for the second time in four months.

There are some things in life you just can’t plan and, especially with a career in journalism, there are surprises around every corner.

I do remember thinking just how blessed I was.

I had a job at a place I loved. Then, I had an offer to do something a little more at a place where I already knew the territory and the people and I liked just as well as my new friends in Burke County.

I sat with that decision knowing there are so many people who would give anything to be working.

And, so, to paraphrase Gen. Douglas MacArthur, I have returned.

But, I have to be honest.

My new role here is really not so different than it was.

I’m still going to be on the roads and in meetings writing stories about what’s happening.

I am still who I am and who I was. There is no ego about the title.

It’s just this new title adds a lot of weight and responsibility my previous title did not, and I take that very seriously.

That new title meant there had to be a front-page story about me because it represented a change in the paper’s administration.

Believe me when I say I really didn’t want the attention, and it sort of felt like reading my own obituary.

I take my job seriously, but try not to take myself too seriously.

As part of that story, I mentioned how I had missed the people of Stanly County.

What has been wonderful and frankly quite astonishing to me is how SNAP readers have gone out of their way to say they missed me.

“We’re glad you’re back,” said one lady who walked past me at the Agri-Civic Day. “We hope you stay this time.”

I don’t know how she knew who I was. But, it was a nice moment for me.

And, there have been several of those moments as I have been out and about these past few weeks.

The “hellos” and “welcome backs” have come from people I know I’ve never met, but I also know they were being “Stanly County friendly.”

Returning here brings me back to a further distance from my family which was one of the reasons I left for Burke County.

My parents, who are the best counselors on the planet, said I have to do what’s best for me and my future.

“You are always close to home,” my dad said.

He’s right.

Now, it seems like I’ve got two of them — the one where they are and the one here.

I am so grateful for the “welcome back” I’ve gotten, and I hope I don’t let you down.

There has been a major trust placed in me, and I’m going to ask our readers to keep me honest, grounded and in your prayers as I begin this new stage of my professional journey.

I’m really glad I’ve got special people like SNAP readers going along for the ride with me.

Brian Graves is news editor of The Stanly News & Press. Email