by Martha Rose Woodward
Wes Hall, full-time reporter for the Knoxville Journal Newspaper, was the guest speaker for the Northside Kiwanis Club on Wednesday, May 30 at the Foundry with approximately 20 members and guests in attendance.
Hall shared with the group about some of the positive affects journalism has had on communities, and the changes he has seen in the media, as well as some moving events and humorous encounters that he has covered through the years.
The 60 year old writer says that he began his career as a news reporter and sports photographer for the Lenoir City High School newspaper in 1964. As the years flew by, he worked in broadcast news reporting and as stringer for the Knoxville Journal at small radio stations in rural counties (Loudon, Bradley, Monroe, McMinn, Rhea, Bledsoe) then for WIVK, Newstalk, Dick Broadcasting as field reporter, and US-101-WUSY Chattanooga, as field reporter. Along the way, he received awards from the Cleveland Jaycees for fundraising and media relations and from CBS News for reporting about a helicopter paramedic who was working despite having been dismissed over mental issues from another agency.
Hall’s speech was lively and delivered his in his jovial style. “Someone at the office asked me if I was afraid I’d make a fool of myself,” he said. “No,” he said, “I don’t mind making a fool of myself since some of the best speakers I know often make fools of themselves.”
Hall said, “I have the utmost respect for the Kiwanis. I know that you are touching lives of young people all over the globe. I appreciate the opportunity to share some time with a group dedicated to our future generation. You as Kiwanians raise funds for scholarships, disaster relief, research to eliminate maternal and neonatal tenanus and many other projects. Kiwanians do a lot of work without expecting anything in return, but you are paid in immeasurable ways. Just knowing a child’s life is better because of something you did through Kiwanis is enough pay for sure.”
“I urge everyone to support Kiwanis and their endeavors,” Hall said.
Hall said that when he applied and interviewed for the job with the Knoxville Journal, owner, Renee Wheeler, told him she was going to pray about it, and she would let him know if he had the job. He told that he would pray about it and let her know, if she called, if he would take it. He said he did pray—for patience, because he truly wanted the job, however, she soon called and offered the job to him, so both prayers were answered.
Hall ended his speech by asking,”WHAT have I learned?” He answered, “God doesn’t always explain where he wants us to go… or why.. that we may never know. But if we listen and let go of our small ideas, God has bigger ideas. Success to me is not about money. It’s about what we leave behind and the lives we have touched positively.”
Hall’s speech was well-received by club members who thanked him for being there and gave him a big round of applause and a gift bag of chocolate candy.
Tom Mattingly, program chairman, said, “We are so pleased you could be our speaker. Please remember us and plan to visit soon and often. You did a great job and we thank you.”