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KEEL News Director John Lee to Retire in September

 

photo of John Lee
Susan Barnett photo

Well, I guess it’s finally time to make it official.  I plan to retire from radio news in three months — on September 15th, 2014. 

I have been doing radio news for more than 41 years and radio news here in Shreveport/Bossier for the last 37 of those years.  I’ll also be 66 years old in September and eligible for my last Social Security bump before I hit age 70.  So I think it’s time for me to hang up my headphones and pass the news torch on to a younger generation.

This hasn’t exactly been the best-kept secret in the market.  I announced my retirement plans to upper-level management of our Townsquare Media radio stations in October of 2013 – giving them eleven months’ notice.  Then, a couple of weeks later, I announced those plans to my news staff and to all of our Brand Managers/Program Directors.  Shortly thereafter, I also announced my intentions to my fellow board members of the Shreveport Journalism Foundation.  In each instance, I asked everybody to please keep it under their hat until I was ready to make a “formal” announcement, which is what I’m doing today.

However, we all know how the rumor mill works and little by little, over the ensuing months, the word has seeped out into the community.  Unfortunately, that word has also been seriously distorted as it’s been passed from person to person.  I’ve even had people call to say things like, “I heard you quit!”  Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  I’m not a quitter, but I do know when it’s time to hang up my headphones and move on with my life.

My sincere thanks go out to every single person who has ever been a part of my news team over all these many years.  We’ve got boxes of awards that we’ve won over the years but I never won any of them by myself.  It was always done with the help of my news team members and to each and every one of them, no matter where they are or what they’re doing now, I will always be eternally grateful to you.  Some have contributed more than others over the years but every one of them has played a significant role in my career and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.

To all of those who I’ve been able to touch over my long radio news career, I sincerely thank you for listening.  To the thousands of newsmakers I’ve interviewed over all those years, I thank you for responding to my nosy questions.  My goal, since day-one, has always been to be fair, honest, and objective in everything I’ve reported.  You might not have always agreed with everything I’ve reported over the years or the questions I’ve asked you during our interviews but I’ve always tried to hold true to my double-edged mantra that, “If I didn’t tell you, how would you have known?” and “If I didn’t ask that question, I wasn’t doing my job!”

What am I going to do after I retire?  I’m certainly not going to curl up and turn into a vegetable!  That’s just not me.  I’ll still be active in the community in some way, shape, or form.  I hope to get much more involved, again, with the Walk of Stars.  Initially, however, I plan to do nothing more than spend a lot of time working on my two classic Minis and making some much-needed and long-neglected repairs to my house as well as organizing and cataloging the mountains of Mini parts and tools that I’ve amassed over the past 28 years of Mini ownership.  After that, who knows where the road might lead me.  I’m open to doing just about anything but I’m certainly in no hurry to take on something new.

In the meantime, I’ve still got three more months before I officially hang up my headphones and turn off my microphone for the last time.  So don’t expect me to slack off.  During the next three months, I plan to do exactly what I’ve been doing for the past 41 years and that’s getting and reporting the news.

Thanks for listening or letting me interview you and, most importantly, for being my friends over all these many years.  I hope that our friendship will continue for many years to come.

John Lee

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