Over the years, and there are many of them, a lot of people have given me great advice. Most of it is junk and gets crumpled up and goes in the wastebasket. On the other side of that ledger though there are gems of wisdom that have served me in good stead in the world of life and in news.
In matters political. Always a book a small hall. Don Jamieson told me that. I only had a few conversations with him but that was one. He was speaking at my nomination meeting when I ran for election back what seems like a few hundred years ago. It was St. Mary’s Hall on Craigmiller Avenue. He had come to speak at the end of the evening, but the hall was only about two thirds full. He told me that in politics you always want to give the impression of an overflow venue so if you are getting a crowd of 200 then book a place that only holds 180. The overflow looks good he told me. A full house.
In the world of news, I have learned much from many people and worked with some seasoned journalists. Strangely enough, the advice that sticks in my mind and with which I have shaped many a newscast comes from someone best described as a “populist”. That’s a funny word you don’t see too much of these days. J.R. Smallwood once inscribed a book to me which I still have using the word. It was the first volume of the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador. He wrote on the flyleaf another word you don’t see too often; “To Jim Furlong, ‘fellow populist’. I was flattered. That brings me back to my favourite populist. He was Ron Pumphrey, an author, publisher and a radio host that I worked with on his little gold mine of a newspaper called The Town Crier. I wrote for him, and he let me edit a sister publication that had but a short life. That was The Western News. Ron taught me this important lesson about news and publishing. He told me, on the matter of audience, is that you had to “make them laugh; make them cry; but above all else MAKE THEM WAIT! That rings true even unto today. You see it in all broadcast media in the form of the promo. Still ahead on the broadcast! It is as true today as when Ron Pumphrey told me half a century ago. Thanks, Ron.
Finally, this last sagacious gem is from a Christian Brother hockey coach. He wasn’t preaching violence. He was just telling us about the physical aspects of hockey and in particular, defence. He said to always remember that in the history of hockey nobody will score from in front of the net after they have been knocked flat on their back. He said that most of them won’t return to the front of the net after that happens. File that away under words to live by. It is a place where the wisdom of the ages lives and calls home for politics, publishing, news and hockey.
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