Thank you. In the fewest words, it's that. Thank you.
I’m gonna miss this place, metaphorical though it may be. If you’ve been reading my writing for all or some of those years, I thank you. I hope that I’ve helped you enrich your life with new musical discoveries and with the joy of music, particularly live music. Live music creates magic that elevates life to a whole new level.
“John will never shut The Reader down.” I was literally telling a newer colleague that less than a month before the announcement of the closing of The Reader and El Perico.
So it was a gut punch of sorts to get the news. The Reader has been part of my life for almost all of its history. I really started as a contributor in 1995 or ’96, so it’s been a long association that has provided me a lot of opportunities. And the group of The Reader’s contributing writers, particularly the core group that has been working with the paper for years, are a community I have always valued being a part of. Being the “blues girl” for The Reader, as John Heaston has for years called me with the utmost respect, has been an honor and has become part of my identity. Even though we are rarely in the same physical space, I’ve really valued being part of this community of writers and I’ve valued the opportunity to put my love of music into words that people seem to value.
I’m gonna miss this place, metaphorical though it may be.
The Reader has been through many changes and many challenges, and most of those are really John’s story to tell, not mine. Some folks even to this day think that in 2015 when we went from a weekly paper to a monthly paper in print with updated content online, that we ceased to exist then. But thankfully that change in direction from weekly to monthly allowed The Reader and El Perico to keep serving their communities while other similar papers went out of business.
John Heaston has managed the changes the paper has faced and the changes in the marketplace with thought and grace. He’s always been committed to alternative journalism, even when news stories were hard or unpopular. He never backed down from an important story.
He also understands the value of community and the arts. He championed the early Earth Day public celebrations. He helped start the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards with a vision for how the different artistic disciplines could come together to celebrate each other, support each other and ideally, collaborate. He often gave advertising space to nonprofits and fundraisers. He always kept in mind a thoughtful consideration for the community we serve and also gave thought to what any changes meant for the team.
And he’s managed his recent health challenge battling leukemia, mostly quietly, with strength and grace and with the support of his partner Lori, his family, his Reader family, his community and his caregivers. I’m grateful he’s doing well and I’m glad he’s decided to prioritize his health. Running two papers can be a workaholic rodeo that would not contribute to his wellness.
So, I thank John for giving me the creative freedom to write what I thought needed writing throughout the years. That in itself is a luxury that many music journalists and entertainment writers do not have. I didn’t get assignments doled out. I got to think for myself and write about what I thought mattered. I also thank all the editors, office managers and project managers through the years. They are too many to mention and I don’t want to accidentally leave someone out. They are the people who helped John keep the largely freelance writing staff tracking forward, creating great content and meeting deadlines. First week in and week out, and then month after month, we’ve created great content that engages or celebrates our community on a shoestring. And for nearly 30 years all together.
I think I secretly hoped that someone or some entity that understands the value of the local independent journalism, particularly the contribution of the music and arts coverage, that The Reader has delivered for nearly 30 years now, would step forward. That someone would find a way to partner with John to make the resources available to hire the necessary staff so John could step back and the paper could keep operating. But it seems that’s not to be.
Thank you to the core team of writers that have been part of the central Reader family through the years. Thanks to John for everything.
If you’ve been reading my writing for all or some of those years, I thank you. I hope that I’ve helped you enrich your life with new musical discoveries and with the joy of music, particularly live music. That’s where it’s at for me – that truly magical energy exchange between musicians onstage and an audience truly engaging in the performance, the energy vibe that’s created, shared and magnified is unbeatable. Live music creates magic that elevates life to a whole new level.
Remember that. Maybe I’ll see you on the dance floor somewhere.