Louisville Magazine

NOV 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.18 33 Groomed for News Former "Courier-Journalist" Keith L. Runyon reflects on his 40-plus years at the paper, which published its first edition 150 years ago on Nov. 8, 1868. When I was a toddler, my mother set up my playpen in front of the new black-and- white television in our St. Matthews home. I wonder how many other children's first memories include Chief Counsel Joseph Welch asking U.S. Senator and communist-fearing demagogue Joseph McCarthy, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" Fast-forward 20 years to the spring of 1973. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was speaking at the University of Louisville, and he hailed the newspaper for which I worked: "is community is blessed with the Courier-Journal, one of about 10 newspapers in the country in the days of Joe McCarthy that stood up for the rights of people." I came to work at the Courier- Journal in July 1969. e Vietnam War was raging and the newspaper was no stranger to the human impact. One of the obituary clerks was about to report for active duty in the Navy, and the paper needed a replacement. A longtime city editor had heard about me and suggested I meet the assistant managing editor, who was impressed that I already had experience writing obits at a newspaper in Evansville, Indiana. I was 18 and got the job, clearly the youngest person in the news operation. Dec. 1 of that year remains vivid in my memory. at was the night of America's first draft lottery since World War II. I was on the obit desk, but my priority was to answer the phone calls, mostly from young men who were my contemporaries and wanted to know what number they had been assigned. Every five or 10 minutes, one of our copy boys delivered a new strip of text from the Associated Press. As the numbers rolled in, so did the calls. It took some time before I learned that my own birthday — Oct. 3 — was number 244. While that was by no means safe, it was far better than the 243 other dates that preceded it. Midway through the evening came a call from a guy who asked what his number was. "What's your birthday?" I asked him.

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