Friday, January 29, 2021

Insight: Making the most of my regrets

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

Having spent more than four decades in journalism, there’s a lot of successful articles for me to be proud of, but I would be remiss not to have regrets for the interviews and articles that didn’t happen for one reason or another.

Here are three examples that stand out more than others:

When I was working as a reporter for a newspaper in New Mexico in the late 1980s, I learned that a nationally known performer was doing telephone interviews to promote a new album he had recorded. I obtained approval for an article through my editor and then proceeded to make an appointment with the singer’s management company to conduct the interview by phone on a Tuesday night.

David Cassidy
I had the interview set and marked down on my calendar at work, but when I went out to lunch that day, my car wouldn’t start, and I spent all afternoon at the mechanic’s shop having a new alternator put in my 1974 Honda CVCC. By the time I got home it was time for supper and then I watched the evening news, became distracted and simply forgot about my scheduled telephone interview.

The next morning, I notified my editor that I didn’t have the interview and instead he wanted me to drive to the site of an overnight residential fire and report about what happened there. The interview with the singer was scrapped and I moved on.

But now with more than three decades having passed, I regret not being able to have a conversation with David Cassidy that night and I’ve come to appreciate what a great voice he had, especially since his death in 2017. 

While working for a newspaper in Florida in 1998, I received a press release and complimentary tickets to an upcoming concert in Daytona Beach for a promising country musician. His recording company said he would also be available following the concert for in-person interviews with journalists.

He was filming his first concert for CMT and I was interested in attending and writing about him, but the timing of the concert didn’t exactly fit my schedule. The show was scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday night in late August and the newspaper I was working for had me assigned to cover a prep football game about 80 miles south of Daytona Beach instead.

I missed out on an opportunity to meet and interview Keith Urban, who has since gone on to a stellar career and is married to actress Nicole Kidman. The prep football game is long forgotten and in hindsight, I would have much preferred hanging out with Keith Urban rather than sitting in the press box taking notes at a high school football game.

In my position as Managing Editor of a newspaper in Florida in 2012, I had my pick of stories to write about and passed on interviewing a slew of professional wrestlers who were in town to promote an event that was nearing. With that, I missed a chance to ask questions of 16-time world champion Ric “Nature Boy” Flair.

By that time, Flair had just retired from the WWE and was touring the country signing autographs and meeting fans. I thought at the time, and still do, that professional wrestling is scripted entertainment, so I wasn’t highly motivated by the prospect of interviewing someone who made a living being smashed on the head with a metal folding chair.

Several years ago, I was at a thrift store and purchased a used copy of Flair’s autobiography “To Be the Man” in which he relates the sad story of his life. In the book, Flair discusses his birth and subsequent adoption through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, anxiety, self-doubt, failed marriages, depression and broken friendships with other wrestlers.

Reading his autobiography made me realize I was foolish for not interviewing Flair when I had the chance, and not being able to share his story with the readers of the newspaper.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to write about many notable people, but when asked live on the air by radio host Pat Kelly in Laconia, New Hampshire in 2015 who I really wanted to interview during my career, I could only come up with Neil Armstrong and John Lennon, who were both deceased by then.  

Thinking clearly now, I probably should have included David Cassidy, Keith Urban and Ric Flair to that list, along with my adolescent favorites Joey Heatherton, Jacqueline Bisset, Britt Ekland, Bo Derek and Christie Brinkley. <

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