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Fifteen years at RPI: it’s been a long strange ride

Date: 11/21/2014

Compared to the kind of job histories our parents had an anniversary of 15 years seems like weak tea.

Many of our mothers and fathers worked for decades at the same place. That was the traditional nature of American business and employment.

The Baby Boomers were the first generation to see this change. As industries first moved from the north to the south and then to overseas, my generation doesn’t have much hope for that retirement party at which the company president hands you a gold watch.

The stories I’ve read about the Millennials indicate they will be more active job gypsies than we were. Going from job to job and riding your career like a wave will be the norm.

I guess that being in the media has given me a taste of that kind of job surfing. The usual model has been for people to go from job to job seeking better opportunities as one goes from one market to – hopefully – a larger market.

I’ve worked at two daily newspapers; was a talk show host on radio for five years; and suffered through seven years as public relations guy. On top of that I spent two years as the program supervisor at a local museum and three years running an independent first run movie theater.

When I needed extra cash, I was a freelance writer, was an adjunct instructor at a local college, worked as a line cook and tended bar. I firmly believe that all writers need a practical skill.

Years ago, I thought about leaving this market to pursue other opportunities, but I love Western Massachusetts. I really didn’t want to leave.

In October of 1999, I applied for a job at Reminder Publications as the editor of the Chicopee Herald. I was hired in November. I was back in journalism after seven years wandering about in the desert of public relations. The only thing that saved my soul during that time was my work on two animation magazines that I co-owned and edited.

I relished the opportunity to be back writing full-time. Interestingly enough, I worked alongside Ron Chemilis for five years at WREB when he owned The Herald.

Two years later I was named managing editor and during that time I’ve seen some substantial growth as a company: the addition of two weekly newspapers and a website with news. Reminder Publications has seen diversification with the founding of its sister companies Access to Media and Envision Marketing.

By the way, we have a new project that will be announced later this year.

During the past 15 years, I’ve seen Reminder Publications update and streamline our production process, start and cancel several publications, embrace the Web and social media, struggle against the changes in the media landscape and hold its breath during the recession. It’s been an interesting and challenging ride.

I would like to say the loyal readership of our weekly print and web products was thanks to my genius and skill. The truth is I’ve been blessed by my association with some very talented reporters and graphic artists who have worked very hard to fulfill a mutual vision of what a community newspaper should be like.

My staff and I understand we compete against a daily newspaper, three television stations and several radio stations that still have news operations. We know that our mission is to give our readers something different than what they are getting from other media.

Everyone in this market and field labor these days under restrictions defined by limited resources. All of us must work in different ways to maximize the budgets we are given. Although that is frequently a pain in the neck, it does inspire my staff and me to work harder and better.

Although I know I don’t have another 15 years in me, I’d like to think – unless Dan and Chris Buendo have another idea – that I have at least another five years here.

So, thank you readers for picking up our papers and making my job a fulfilling one. Thank you to my staff and colleagues for your collaboration and cooperation. Thank you to my wife for putting up with split shifts and late nights. Thank you to our advertisers.

Thank you Chris and Dan Buendo for taking a chance and hiring me and thank you for giving my staff and me the freedom to pursue what we thought was the best course for these weekly ‘papers. I deeply appreciate the support.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.