Tully Talk: Saying thank you and so long after nearly 29 years, but leaving with a lot of precious memories

Saying good-bye with a heavy heart and a great deal of happy memories.
(File Photo)

Where do I start?

How can I put into words the almost three decades of memories, experiences, joys and accomplishments that I’ve been privileged to enjoy at the same job?

Sadly, we were informed Thursday that the newspapers that I have devoted much of my life to, The Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun, would be closing down and all the employees laid off.

It was a decision made by our parent company, the Los Angeles Times, and it was because our papers just weren’t generating a substantial amount of advertising revenue. With the coronavirus further drying up revenue and subscriptions down, the powers that be decided to pull the plug on our publications.

I’m not really as sad for myself as I am devastated for the death of the publications. The Burbank Leader, formally the Burbank Daily Review, was founded in 1908 and the Glendale News-Press dates back to 1905; the La Cañada Valley Sun began publishing in 1946.

All that history, gone in a flash.

Just think; the papers survived through two world wars, military conflicts, the Great Depression, the Spanish Flu, the stock market crash, multiple other recessions and many hardships and uncertainty in our country. But we couldn’t outlast this.

When I started with the organization in November 1991, we had three papers: The Burbank Leader, the News-Press and The Foothill Leader, as each paper had a separate sports editor, along with an executive sports editor who oversaw all three publications. I was hired as sports editor of the Leader and served in that capacity until another editor took over all three papers. I then took over as sports editor of the Leader, News-Press and Valley Sun in August of 2018.

Along with news and editorial staff members who are losing their jobs, three of us in the sports department are also being laid off.

I have had the pleasure of working with sportswriter Charles Rich for nearly 20 years. He has been a godsend to me the last few years, picking up the slack when our previous editor resigned suddenly. At a time, it was just the two of us publishing stories and contest, doing the layout and design and populating three websites for three publications and five issues a week. I owe him a great deal. I am proud to call him my friend.

The other sportswriter on our team, Vincent Nguyen, has only been with us for less than two years. However, in just a short time he has been invaluable to the staff. The young man has a dedication to his craft and always goes the extra mile to provide the readers with quality content. And he’s a heck of a nice guy, as well as a friend.

I will truly miss working with two such quality individuals.

I have been blessed to work with many dedicated and talented journalists over the years. I wish I could mention them all, but I don’t think I would have enough space.

A throwback with Jeff Tully, left, Alex Leon and Jim Riggio.
(File Photo)

In my nearly three decades with the company I had several opportunities to leave community sports for greener pastures. I eventually turned down writing and sports editor jobs at two separate daily newspapers that covered everything from youth sports to college sports to the professional ranks.

But I saw the value that our community newspapers provided and I truly enjoyed covering the communities of Burbank, Glendale, La Crescenta and La Cañada (and Pasadena for a short time). I found the niche in my career, and I wanted to stay in my position for as long as I could.

Maybe you could say I should have had aspirations of moving on to bigger and better things; but I would counter with that fact that I stayed where I did for so long because I honestly loved what I did, the people I worked with and the players, coaches and administrators I came in contact with over the years.

I have been lucky in this job that I have met some outstanding and amazing individuals during my tenure. But I’ve also been privileged to have made a great many friends along the way. Many of those individuals have texted me or sent out Tweets with their support after finding out the news of our demise. That has meant a great deal to me and I am truly humbled by the response.

Over the years, I’ve had the utmost pleasure to cover and come in contact with some amazing athletes. There have also been coaches who I have tremendous respect for and who have influenced me by the way they conducted their players and teams.

It was amazing when I would cover an athlete and then see him or her a few years later returning to their high school to become a coach or administrator. And it was crazy seeing someone whom I covered in my early years have a son or daughter competing in sports at their alma mater.

Dealing with those players and coaches has been a joy that I will forever remember.

I want to thank all those who made the last nearly three decades the ride of a lifetime for me. I’ve never felt more proud of what our small papers and small staffs were able to accomplish over the years.

This job never paid well, we often had to put in long hours, had to sometimes work weekends and late into the night and travel far to cover games. But the sense of accomplishment and knowing that we were providing something valuable made it all worth it.

Now is the time for me to ride into the sunset. But before I do, I have one more thank-you to address. All my deepest gratitude to you, the readers. We did this all for you, and we appreciate all the support over the years and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Tully Talk out!