Friday is the last day for The Story on WUNC. The program's host, Dick Gordon, is leaving the station after eight years with the nationally distributed show. He spoke with Morning Edition's Eric Hodge one last time Friday morning.
ERIC HODGE: Good morning Dick.
DICK GORDON: Hi, Eric.
HODGE: So, why the move, Mr. Gordon?
GORDON: Well, it's never one thing. It's always a bunch of different things, but what led the way for me is the fact that my mother is getting on in years, we are feeling a long way away from our daughters, who both make their home in Canada, and it just seemed like a good time to make a decision to make that kind of switch. I mean, you never want to walk away from something that is as much fun as The Story just for a frivolous reason, but change is not a bad thing for me and we'll see where it leads us.
HODGE: What do you think you've achieved over these eight years?
GORDON: Wow, that's hard to judge at this point, because I'm still kind of right in the middle of one foot out the door and one foot in the door, but when I look over my shoulder, I'm actually really proud of the body of work that my producers and this station put together by finding a way of giving dignity, intelligence, and some kind of emphasis to the stories of ordinary people instead of, I think, doing what we do too often in radio, and that is simply turning our microphones toward the important people - because we think they're important - or the people who have a quick opinion to offer. We kind of shut out the stories that matter most about what's going on on our street or in our town, in our state, in our country, and that was just a tremendous opportunity that we had to work at doing that. Sometimes we got it dead on. Sometimes we missed the mark, but because it was a daily show, it was just always really exciting trying.
HODGE: Well, that's the whole thing, right? Radio just winds up being that way. If you nail it, it's fantastic. If you don't, there's another show coming.
GORDON: If you have a daily deadline, at the end of the day you say, "Okay, we're getting ready for tomorrow's program." (Laughing)
HODGE: Having said that about sort of offering that alternative voice, why not keep the show going with a different host or you beam it down to us? Why not do one of those things?
GORDON: That wasn't my call. That was a decision made by the management here. I know that part of it was the fact that the show was built around me, and I can say from my own experience that it's difficult inheriting a show that has someone else's identity attached to it.
HODGE: Sure, you've done that a couple of times?
GORDON: (Laughing) I have, and with sort of varying success. But I also think that what we did in terms of turning people's attention towards a story and giving it a little bit more time has moved the markers, if only just a little bit, to, hey, like, that's the way we should be doing more of our journalism, and so if we made that shift in a tiny way, then maybe we'll continue to hear some of that on WUNC. That's more for you to judge, Eric, than for me to judge, because you're going to be here next week.
HODGE: I'll let you know. Do you have any regrets?
GORDON: Lots. You know, when you're making a decision to go, you're thinking to yourself, "I think this is right. I know this is right. This going to be good." Then you make the decision, you say, "Great." You're excited about the change, moving to a new place, and wondering about what's ahead because I'm unemployed at present, or will be as of tomorrow. And then, of course, once you've made that decision, you start saying your farewells and realizing how dug in you were and how many friends you had here, and that's where all the regrets come. So yeah, absolutely, regrets.
HODGE: Now, since you're going to leave "Caniac" country, I'd like to wrap this up by finding out which hockey team you'll be rooting for in Canada. (Laughing)
GORDON: (Laughing) I'm glad you didn't ask me a basketball question. That's all I can say.
HODGE: (Laughing) I knew better.
GORDON: And when the Ottawa Senators take on the Carolina Hurricanes, don't ask me which side of the arena I'm going to be standing on or how dark the red of my jersey will be as I cheer, because I could get in trouble with the answer to that question. (Laughing)
HODGE: Dick Gordon has been the host of the story for the past eight years here on North Carolina Public Radio, WUNC. Dick thanks for your time this morning, I'll miss talking with you on the air each weekday morning, and I really wish you the best of luck.
GORDON: Thank you. I will miss our 7:19 mornings as well.
HODGE: Our little catchup.