The Kuhens Family of the Carolinas

Cheap Ink

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Cheap Ink

Everyone has a story. In fact, everyone has a story that could get published in a newspaper, journal or magazine. Like others, the print medium is desperate to find copy to fill the space around their ads, especially in markets where advertisers have bloated the newspapers so full they are belching over into a myriad of start-up newspapers and ubiquitous niche publications. There are free "newspapers," in every shop and restaurant, free "journals" littering driveways, and even "magazines" printed on everything from newsprint to slickly-varnished, cast-coated paper delivered for free to your mailbox and sent home from school in your child's backpack. These bottom tier publications cut expenses every way they can, so free copy often trumps all other kinds. Put simply, this is a matter of demand for advertising space outpacing the supply of what we used to call news at a time when printing presses have ever more time available to run.

It is absurdly simple to get your story, whatever it may be, published. If you want to get some ink, launch Microsoft Word right now and type up something that describes what your friends and family have told you is one of your most interesting attributes or hobbies, print it out in the format of a "Press Release" and mail it off with a photo or two to as many local newspapers, journals, and magazines as you have stamps. Once it gets published, and it will get published, cut it out and take it to Kinko's to have laminated, then keep it long enough to pass on to your grandchildren. In the meantime, you'll get to bask in your Warholian 15 Minutes of Fame and no one will be the wiser.

I have dedicated the majority of this page to exposing some examples of what I mean. The select few clippings displayed here are as old as they are fun because the publishing rose lost its blush for us right up against the backdrop of easy and cheap color printing. Nonetheless, a few years ago we began to get some splashes of colored ink. We have made the full-color cover and back page of the the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group's daily newspaper in our city multiple times, as well as the full-color, above-the-fold, cover story of one of those weekly, delivered-to-your-driveway-for-free, start-up journals. There is nothing that special, nor newsworthy about us. We simply live in a market that has more advertisers than journalists working for the stories that actually matter to, let alone inform, the public. Editorial content has become heinously market-driven. Of course, this is also a national problem but, like cheap local ink, it is one that cannot be solved here. -Brian

2009 Update: Even though the above piece was written long before the current economic downturn, the presses are still rolling...

2017 Update: Well, that didn't last long.

Click any news clipping to enlarge:

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This is a classic example of a press release-inspired news story. We have dozens upon dozens like it because Donna and I have each worked for companies with aggressive marketing and PR departments. What is interesting about this story is that it is one of a few written about us by the Ivy League-educated "staff writer," A.W. Hauslohner who, when we lived in Galax, was a friend of ours named Amy who eventually became the editor of the newspaper (the triweekly paper's very nice publisher, Chuck, was a member of our church, a fellow Rotarian and a charity poker-buddy). Amy has also since married 14-term United States Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Va). There is much more to the story behind Amy and Rick, but I save the fun parts for dinner parties.

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Dressing the fool for a charity is always a good way to get ink. This is not why I did it, but the local papers couldn't ignore the opportunity. Donna hand-made the jester's outfit which was subsequently donated to the local High School's drama department.

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Nice tie.

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What a shame. Who's Who used to be the premier biographical database used by libraries, journalists, colleges and many more, at least until the the internet came along. In the final throes of print publication, Who's Who became a marketing tool for exploiting the naively insecure among us. From 2001 through 2005, Marquis Who's Who hounded me monthly with biographical questionnaires and grandiose pronouncements of my elite status among the world's most prominent high achievers. Intermingled among the biographical updates came ever more solicitations to purchase volumes of leather-bound books and catalogs of recognition awards--all overpriced--to commemorate what had become this most dubious of achievements. While I never bought in to the scheme, I did complete every biographical update for each publication in which they felt my meriting would induce a purchase. During those years I was profiled a total of 17 times in "Who's Who in America," "Who's Who in the World," "Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare," and "Who's Who in Finance and Business." Then, after five years of not purchasing any of their goodies, I was dropped from their ranks like a hot potato.

Along the way I had some fun, though. Just for kicks I issued a press release without any photo to a couple local newspapers. The bit about our dog is a true one and became the subject of a column for yet another newspaper. Not only did the papers once again give me ink, but they also used file photos for the stories. Kathy Price, the delightful Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, was wise to my ink-seeking shenanigans, and mailed me the following to prove it:

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This is a photo of the first time Sander and I got to have our vote not count. We served as Student Government Association Senators and Vice Presidents at both Spartanburg Methodist College and The University of South Carolina at Spartanburg. Sander even received special recognition for his superlative and exemplary service as a Senator at SMC.

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This is one of my favorite clippings. Not only is my fiancée dissing me here (I was an SGA Senator at the time), but the clipping also has my hero and favorite philosophy professor of all-time, Dr. Jim Griffis, being appropriately diplomatic, and it has Wofford College's Dean Thomas being, well, himself. This was published about the same time that my long-established relationship with Dean Thomas took a turn toward the ironic, if not the surreal.

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This was published about the same time I was interviewed on WSPA's "Awareness" television program. The article was distributed on the front page of The Greenville News' weekly TMC (Total Market Coverage) newspaper on October 20th, 1982. A TMC is distributed to all market residents, whether they subscribe to the newspaper or not. As an indication of how much the "total market" has grown, Greenville's TMC had a circulation of only 70,000 back then.

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Thin Air

Two years before the FCC deregulated commercial television, the airwaves also had plenty of time to fill around their commercials. Edward Valenti's Ginsu Knives became cutting edge as infomercials sliced deftly into the thin air left behind by the demise of yawn-inspiring, community-based shows like WSPA's "Awareness." This episode was broadcast in the Autumn of 1982 and was a full 30 minutes long. I have edited it down to just nine minutes of concentrated sleep inducement, and replaced all the commercials with a time-warped one of a pregnant Donna, shot after our ages had more than doubled.

Just 90 minutes before this was taped, I did not know I had a future in television. I was about to sit down to dinner when I got a call from Sharon Crenshaw asking me if I wanted to be on TV. When I agreed, she said she and Mike will be over to pick me up in 30 minutes. An hour later I was in her car about to arrive in Spartanburg for the first time since I touched down at GSP from Califorinia (via Iowa) in 1978.

If you choose to watch this, you'll notice second and third person references to one another which were introduced by the host, Tony Bell, and continued to litter the conversational landscape. I have recently been told the admirable Mr. Bell not only went on to become the Director of Human Resources for Spartanburg County, but is also helping to implement and achieve the mission of Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina as a dedicated member of its board of directors.

My favorite part of the whole show happens right after it ends. There is a fragment of a gubernatorial re-election (SC's first) campaign commercial by Richard (Dick) Riley. It not only provides a delicious time stamp to a piece that could put Heidegger to sleep but also seeing the former US Secretary of Education still on his way up is a reminder of what a visionary leader can accomplish. -Brian

More on Dick Riley and Marshall I. Pickens Mental Health Center:

Richard (Dick) Riley on Wikipedia

Converse Educator Presented with Highest Award for Gifted Education

The Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics and Public Leadership

The Marshall I. Pickens Mental Health Center

Color Above the Masthead:
Have We Crossed The Finish Line?

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Please don't think we don't appreciate the talent of the Fourth Estate. Tim Kimzey is a photographer of exceptional skill who would have otherwise never directed his lens toward our girls. For this we are grateful. We are also heartened by stories of diversity and hope to offset the constantly bleeding leads. The issue of where better to point Kimzey's lens is yet another one that won't be solved here. What a great picture of MinMin with an aphid:

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The ink used for Tim Kimzey's photography may be cheap, but his rare skills certainly are not as they often make for stunning photojournalism. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Kimzey at a Spartanburg Day School 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2007. He impressed me as a soft-spoken gentleman who is a true asset to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal newspaper.

Below is another picture he took of Sage. This time it was at the Glendale Outdoor Leadership School's Adventure Camp, sponsored by the Palmetto Conservation Foundation and the Spartanburg County Parks and Recreation Commission. Please click the photo of Sage in the kayak to see more from Mr. Kimzey's visit to the camp. You can also click the links under the photo to learn more about GOLS, which is located just downstream from Hidden Falls on Lawson's Fork Creek. Initially directed by poet John Lane, Wofford College's Glendale Shoals Environmental Studies Center shares the historic site with GOLS and the Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE).

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Glendale Outdoor Leadership School

Palmetto Conservation Foundation

Spartanburg Area Conservancy (SPACE)

Spartanburg County Parks & Recreation Commission

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Click below to visit the Herald-Journal website:
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The Herald-Journal assigned Gerry Pate to shoot...
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...for the story. Mr. Pate is a very professional gentleman.

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Spartanburg Day School

Wofford College

USC Upstate

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Photo by Tim Kimzey
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Photo by Tim Kimzey

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Spartanburg County Public Works Department Assistant Solid Waste Manager, Mike Casey, gave Brian, Donna and Sage a comprehensive, two-hour tour of the Wellford Landfill Facility. This photo of Sage at the recycling center with Troy Hudson was taken during the fascinating tour and appeared in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

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Spartanburg Herald-Journal ~ 25 September 2009

Two days before the Spartanburg Charter School's Dedication Ceremony, Sage was asked by Dr. White, the Head of School, to provide a speech for the occasion and to describe the time capsule project. Here she is delivering the speech without any notes. A transcript of what she said is below:

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Photo by Gerry Pate


Hello! Thank you for coming to the Spartanburg Charter School’s Dedication Ceremony. My name is Sage Kuhens and I’m in Mrs. Gault’s 5th grade girl’s class.

As we gather here in a school that was first occupied by students in 1939, it makes me wonder what they would have thought of the world today. Those children probably believed that by now, we’d have flying cars and robots to help us do our homework.

The future is uncertain. Fashion will change. The way we travel will change. The way we interact will change. How these changes will happen is left to our imagination and it is our imagination that will make these changes possible. I believe that there is no such thing as thinking too big or too small.

If we can maintain the imagination of children bursting with ideas, I believe that we will live in a world where anything is possible.

For the children of the future, we will be burying a time capsule that will not be unearthed until 2059. A time capsule is a container that doesn’t rust and will protect its contents while underground or stored away somewhere safe, like an attic or basement. It is a fun activity do at home, but ours will be for the school. Mrs. Gault’s class decided they wanted it to contain a picture of each class and the 5th grade girls’ predictions of what the world will be like in 50 years.

To tell you what Mrs. Whitmire’s 5th grade boys class will contribute to the time capsule, please allow me to introduce Shaheem Scruggs.

-Sage Kuhens, Spartanburg Charter School Dedication Ceremony, 17 October 2009

Sage being interviewed by Lee G. Healy of...
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...the Spartanburg Herald-Journal newspaper.

Click here to read the Spartanburg Herald-Journal's Story

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From "The Costco Connection," January 2011:

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