Tim headshot.jpg

One whole year.

It’s hard to believe that its been an entire year since I first set foot into the Branson Tri-Lakes Newspaper as a staff writer on Jan. 2, 2019.

I probably don’t say it enough, but I’m incredibly grateful to Editor Cliff Sain and the rest of the editorial team for taking a chance on this radio news guy and giving him the chance to prove himself in the print world. 

Believe it or not, I went to college thinking I was going to get into television news, but thanks to a six-week internship with a radio station near my hometown, I fell in love with another news medium. I always assumed that one day I’d find my way into television, when the time was right. 

However I can honestly say that I never thought I’d have the chance to work for a newspaper.

In radio, the news writing formula was simple. It came easy to me and I thought I was pretty good at it. Two awards from the Missouri Broadcasters Association lead me to think that a couple other people thought so as well. For radio I could write a paragraph of facts, follow it up with an interview sound clip and then repeat that process until the end. 

A fact and then a clip.

Following my untimely departure from the Branson radio stations, after they dissolved the entire news department (I’m not bitter), I knew I wanted to stay in Branson. I had a feeling Branson was going to take care of me and provide me with the right opportunity. But after eight very long months in both the Branson retail and entertainment industries, I was beginning to think that maybe Branson didn’t care if I stayed here or not.

Thanks to a series of fortunate events that led to my dear friend, fellow College of the Ozarks alumni and former Branson Tri-Lakes News reporter Sara Karnes to the Springfield News-Leader, a media position was available for the first time in Branson since my position at the radio station was no more (I’m a little bitter).

Of course when I heard Sara was heading to the News-Leader, the idea of becoming a writer for a newspaper seemed so beyond my abilities as a reporter. After all, I had spent nearly five years following a simple news writing formula. 

The idea of writing long and extremely detailed stories with transcribed interview quotes terrified me. But when the entire Tri-Lakes Editorial team, including Sara, Joshua Clark and John Robinson, reached out with some extra encouragement to apply for the job, I couldn’t say no.

It wasn’t long before I was sitting in a room with Cliff and I was being interviewed for the job. Ahead of my interview, Mr. Clark gave me some pre-interview and newspaper writing formulaic advice after I shared my concerns on writing for the paper. 

He then said six words that continue to stick with me. He said, ’A fact and then a quote.’ Kind of sound familiar? While the fear I originally had about applying for a job with Tri-Lakes didn’t go away completely in that moment, it did reduce a couple of degrees. 

But here we are a year later. I can successfully say I’ve been a newspaper journalist for an entire 365 days, plus some change.

2019 included a lot of fantastic moments. 

I got to ride around in the yellow bug that played the Transforming robot Bumblebee in a Walmart commercial. I got to be one of the first people to learn what new ride was coming to Silver Dollar City this year. I got to be the first local resident to climb aboard the B-24 Liberator Bomber, the Diamond Lil’ when she made her debut in Branson. I got to attend a birthday party for a two-headed snake named Tiger Lily. 

But I’d have to say that at the top of my list for 2019 was the weekend I got to spend walking around a golf course with Justin Timberlake, Mark Wahlberg, Larry the Cable Guy, Kid Rock and other celebrities during the Legends of Golf Tournament. 

2019 had some great highlights outside of the paper as well. I became an ordained minister and officiated my sisters wedding. Nerd Informants, the conglomerate of social media pages and video channels I co-created and run with Josh Grisham, grew by thousands of followers. 

Nerd Informants was asked to be guests at over a half dozen comic cons. I also joined a gym, started making healthier eating choices and have lost nearly 70 pounds (#GetTimSlim). Hello college weight!

But 2019 wasn’t all good. Last year, I had to say goodbye to my biggest cheerleader and one of my best friends, when heaven called my Granny Norma Christopher home. 

That wasn’t easy. 

I have learned so much in the last 54 weeks. I’m a part of a media field I thought I could never be a part of. Mostly because I didn’t I think I had the skills, ability or imagination to be a newspaper writer. But my confidence and independence as a writer is growing. 

This editorial for instance. I can’t believe it’s already this long, but here we are. I imagine the first couple months I was here couldn’t have been easy for Cliff and the team, with my constant questioning and having to be re-shown how to work in-design at least a million times. 

Not to mention eight months is a long time to be away from the media world. I was a little rusty to start, but I’m so incredibly thankful that they stuck with me and allowed me the time to get my news legs back under me. 

I’ve definitely seen a change in me, mentally and physically.

Just within the year I’ve been here at the paper, the faces of the news team have also changed and I’m no longer the new guy. 

John Robinson and Jim Connell are gone and in their place we welcomed in two extremely talented reporters: Madison Bryan and Bailey Vassalli.  

2020 looks to be an interesting year. I can’t wait to see what it has in store. News tips (and compliments) are always welcome. 

Feel free to send them my way at tchurch@bransontrilakesnews.com. 

Thank you Branson for continuing to let me serve you as a member of the media. 

When you read my stories, I can promise you that you’ll only get the facts and the truth. If you want my opinions, you’ll have to follow me on Nerd Informants. 

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