As I was preparing for my fiddle three class (take two) last night, I stumbled upon a little bit of my past. We don't get sheet music for fiddle three, so we're encouraged to bring recorders to tape the song and play it back in the coming week while practicing our tune. I have a small tape recorder I have had for years now. I think it was given to me as a college graduation present from an editor of mine.
I cued up the tape and let it run for a bit. After a little bit of static, the tape cut and suddenly my recorder sounded with the roar of cheering and hollering over the results of a roll call vote. I knew instantly what it was. My coverage of the Reed City bond vote of 2004. This is a story I covered for months and probably spent more time on than anything else I covered in my two-and-a-half-year reporting career.
I was instantly transported back to that night. For me, it was the culmination of hours of sitting through school board meetings, talking with teachers, talking with students, touring the facilities and listening to people in the community say painstakingly that as much as they wanted to give their kids a new school, it just wasn't in their budget. That same year, Reed City had lost hundreds of manufacturing jobs - the backbone of the community - to Mexico and China. In the end, the bond passed by less than 30 votes. The whooping and hollering on the tape was the result of that board's and those parents' hard work to get their kids and the district a new school.
What followed next on the tape was the sound of my own voice. It was my congratulations to members of the school board as well as my interview with the district superintendent. I didn't usually tape my interviews, but I considered this to be such a big story that I didn't want to miss a thing.
It was weird to hear my voice, even weirder to be back in that moment. I remember being nervous for the outcome of that vote because I had become so engrossed in the lives of these people. It really was what I considered to be my biggest story as a young, fresh faced reporter. And looking back, I still am very proud of the work I did on that issue. It was a a few years ago now, but I remembered for a moment how great it was to be terribly invested in my job which really was being invested in the community I served. Sure, reporting in small town America was far from glamorous. I covered more events where the main feature was a tractor pull than I care to admit. But still, it was fun. And there is still a part of me that is sad my business card no longer reads reporter.
I rewound that tape and briefly thought about how after that night's fiddle class I wouldn't have portions of that tape any more. But I figured that didn't matter. because my business card no longer reads reporter.