If I were a ballplayer, the above would be my stats, making me the longest-serving employee that’s ever worked for the Long Island Press (up to this point).
I’d spent the ’90s freelancing, mostly for free at the Island Ear, and did a paid three-year freelance gig with the late Long Island Voice. Then I learned the Ear got purchased by a company called The Morey Organization (TMO). They owned WLIR at the time and my good friend and mentor Robbie Woliver was getting tapped to be the editor-in-chief.
Since meeting him in 1994, Robbie had taken me under his wing, with prior stints including time spent at the aforementioned Voice and some other gigs including a handful of contributions to Country Music Weekly. But now Robbie was offering to bring me aboard fulltime (for which I’m forever indebted), as listings editor for this publication called The New Island Ear. It sounded great, particularly because my long-time Ear editor, Mike Nelson, was also being brought over. I technically freelanced for them until January 2003 when the paper re-launched as the Long Island Press and I went to the old digs on Stewart Avenue in Garden City—embarking on a great adventure that really helped me step up my game and take my abilities to the next level.
We were quite the motley crew starting out. There was me and Mike Nelson, along with former Island Ear intern Kenny Herzog. Bill Jensen, who I knew from the Voice, was Robbie’s right-hand man. New people I met and later ended up treasuring the opportunity to work with and eventually befriending were the endearingly quirky Chris Twarowski, charming Lauren Hill, ridiculously gregarious Paul Perillie, slyly sarcastic Edith Updike, passionate hockey/metal fan/fellow Hofstra alum Brendan Manley and of course, publisher Jed Morey, who bore a passing resemblance to Jon Bon Jovi in a Brooks Brothers kind of way. (And I’m not even mentioning some of our contributors, ranging from now-Rolling Stone investigative reporter Matt Taibbi, whose “Sports Blotter” column got its start in the Press before ending up in The Boston Phoenix; Amy Fisher; and Survivor’s Rob Cesterino.)
For the four years I held the position of listings editor, I was stuck in an oddly-shaped office dubbed “The Vertigo Room” because of the funhouse dimensions of the walls, situated across the hall from the editors’ pit. But I also had a fridge and the coffee pot, from which would evolve the weekly Coffee Club. In addition to handling the reams of emails, phone calls and snail mail from readers and musicians who wanted to get listed, I wound up collecting a couple of bucks from each person to ensure that a pot of coffee was constantly getting fired up.
Opportunities writing for various sections of the paper made me grow as a writer/editor—my version of going to grad school.
I wound up doing stories on a wide range of artists and subjects, discovered fantasy hockey and fantasy football (I continue to play with former and current Pressers) and even padded my resume with a slew of Press Club of Long Island awards.
Took me long enough to nail down what I deemed the Holy Grail—a first-place award made of crystal, which I dubbed “winning glass”—but I finally did, with stories on the Morrison Hotel Gallery, Eddie Money and The Paramount.
People came and went and I crossed paths with a lot of talented people—Dave Patrick, Anne Blachley, Josh Stewart, Rich Callaghan, Ryan Muth, Tom Butcher, Celeste Hamilton, Christina Sacco and April Jimenez are just a few from my extended professional family who helped make my time at the Long Island Press and beyond that much, much richer.