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Spirit of ’77

Posted by Mike Robertson on September 11, 2008

By Nick Berry and Mike Robertson

The University of Missouri broadcast alumni of the Class of 1977 met at The Country Club of Missouri to celebrate their reunion Thursday September 11th. The atmosphere was comfortable, with a strong sense of camaraderie between former classmates, clapping each other on the shoulder, and raising wine glasses. Among the distinguished former students was Art Holliday, the current morning anchor for KSDK in St. Louis. He spoke highly of his time at Missouri and recalled his experiences working at the campus radio station. In addition, he praised his instructors as well as the connections he made through “Mizzou Mafia.” The difference between Missouri and other schools, he added, was that students graduate being able to do multiple things, allowing them to be productive members of any newsroom.

Another notable alumni was former sportscaster Dan O’Brien who recently left the broadcasting industry to become a freelance writer and is currently working on a screenplay about the promotional side of baseball. In the spirit of the night, O’Brien joked, “How many j-school students does it take to screw in a lightbulb?…about 400. One to screw it in and 399 to report on it.”

In addition to Mr. O’Brien, many other alumni have decided to leave broadcasting, because “the business is changing.” O’Brien elaborated by saying, “If you can get a story right and get it first, that’s great. But it’s more important to get it right than to get it first.” John Bisney, former employee of CNN radio, stated that although he changed professions, Mizzou taught him the indispensable skills of how to write, multi-task and meet deadlines. Even outside of the journalism world, the skills he picked up from Mizzou’s practical curriculum have taken him a long way. Mr. Bisney advises students to “keep that fire in your belly,” and maintain the passion to follow whatever career you are interested in.

On the more somber side, Dave Rickey felt the urge to leave the business because it became “all consuming” and he wanted to start a family. After settling down, he joined the field of Public Relations, and upon reflection he admires the drive of today’s journalism students over those from other fields because of their high professionalism and strong sense of getting things done on deadline.

Although Rickey and many other Class of ’77 alumni have since left the world of broadcasting, they feel there will always be a need for journalism, because information is power.

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