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Sharing Clark Howard’s “Moment” recalled one of my own 20 years ago

A few weeks ago, I saw Clark Howard working out at the YMCA. He and I seemed to be on the same every-other-day schedule at the time. I try not to stop and talk to celebrities or well-known people. I have no interest in autographs and I try to respect their privacy. But Clark was a year ahead of me in high school and I had interviewed him once before for our school magazine in the early 1990s.

At the time I had been away from “the profession of journalism” for nearly 10 years – I was still working in “the business of newspapers,” but had migrated over to the marketing and advertising side. Later, friends and family would ask me if I missed writing and I would say no, that I was now writing headlines and ad copy and all was fine. But it wasn’t, really. So when the magazine editor asked me to interview Clark and write a story, I readily agreed.

Interviewing him in his radio studio at WSB was really fun and I noticed when I sat down to write the profile, I tapped into my old writing voice. When I typed out the last line of the article, a creative rush filled my mind. It was a feeling I had not experienced since I had left the newsroom a decade before. That’s when I knew I needed to write – at least to satisfy my own creative instinct. A couple of years later, I concocted the idea for a neighborhood newspaper in Virginia-Highland and quit my job to start it and started a regular column.

Ten years ago, I sold my interest in my newspaper group, stopped writing my column and entered the business of public relations. A couple of years ago, I tried writing a blog, but the lack of deadlines and structure didn’t quite drive me in the same way. This year, after getting a little more involved in SaportaReport, I committed to writing a column. Ironically, 20 years after Clark’s article sparked my interest in writing again, I wandered over to the weight machine on which he had just finished his reps, introduced myself and asked him if he would participate in Moments.

Moments, as you may remember, will be a weekly column that launches January 3 and will feature famous and not-so-famous metro Atlantans, sharing with us that moment that altered the path they were following.

When I first call up other participants and explain the concept of our column “Moments” that debuts in January, I often get a humorous response.

These moments can be personal, professional, financial or spiritual and can relate to any time in one’s life. Most of the people we’ve interviewed so far have reflected upon a moment in their late teens or twenties.

“I haven’t had any moments – yet,” some of our nominees will say when I first call them, being self-deprecating. Or as one said, “I’m hoping for a moment real soon. I need one!”

Usually, after we talk about something else for a minute, I’ll let the silence sit for a bit and the person will quietly say, “Yea, I’ll do one. Call me and we’ll set it up.”

A few weeks ago, I entered WSB again to interview Clark Howard in his new studio. Instead of a pen and pad, this time I brought Reid Childers, our videographer. Clark did a great job, nailing his moment in one take. Look for his Moment and others – including Sam Massell, Shirley Franklin and Ryan Gravel, who envisioned the BeltLine – in 2012.

Chris Schroder is publisher of SaportaReport.com, president of Schroder Public Relations and a former newspaper reporter and owner. He can be reached at [email protected]. Video by Reid Childers at Eyesome Productions.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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