The Current passes swiftly

Ten years ago I was swept away by the current.

Make that The Current.

Time’s swift flow always catches me off-guard. Was it that long ago that I was using a wax machine to paste strips of paper onto pageboards? “Coffee and donuts with your paper” at the MSC? Zip disks? Blanche? The bowling nights? The Ecchers? Coming in second at College Bowl? Was it all that long ago?

Well, yes. It really has been a decade since perhaps the pivotal year of my life. During the 2000-01 academic year, I was editor-in-chief of UMSL’s student newspaper, The Current.

I remember a time in my office at The Current when I was looking at the “editor’s mug.” It was a metal drinking vessel inscribed with the names of editors of The Current, going back to Michelle McMurray, who had been editor exactly 10 years before me. I thought at the time, “Wow. Ten years. That’s really long.”

And now it’s been ten years for me!

I don’t think any other year of my life was so jam-packed with firsts and new adventures.

It was a year of traveling to new places like Athens, Ga.; Washington D.C.; and Israel.

It was a year of learning to doing new things like:

  • writing a print bid request.
  • overseeing the budget and making collections, after my first business manager quit.
  • supervising the move from to a new on-campus office.
  • producing the 1000th issue of the paper and hosting a big reunion night for Current alumni.
  • writing and presenting our budget allocation request after our business manager got stuck overseas.
  • figuring out what to do when someone with a litigious history threatened to sue me.

It was a year of practicing journalism. I was the editor-in-chief in title, but I was the de facto production manager and the de facto news editor and a reporter.

It was a year I will never forget. There were problems, to be sure, but overall I had a blast. I made lifelong friends and I did so much that I remain very proud of.

That spring as the end of my term approached, I remembered what previous editors had told me when I started: that I would be worn out by the end of the year, ready to move on.

I found that wasn’t true for me. As the end drew closer, I felt I was just getting revved up. After all, I had just figured out how to do it! (And how to do it well.) But I knew it was time to try a new challenge.

As the year wound down, I was uncertain about the future. I thought an internship with the Cardinals would be a sure thing, thanks to Current alumni connections I had made. I was wrong.

Looking back, missing out on the Cardinals was the best thing that could have happened. That internship wouldn’t have helped me much to further my journalistic ambitions. In fact, I’m not sure why I pinned so much hope on it. Probably just because I believed it was a sure thing.

I turned next to where I should have turned in the first place: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Was it too late, did they still need interns?

No and yes were the answers, respectively. They chose me to be a design intern. I would work primarily in the sports department, the ONE department at The Current in which I had not been much involved during my years there. … And I still design sports pages all these years later.

As I look back at my college years, I am amazed at how things unfolded, and so pleased. I made great friends, had great times, and grew. I can clearly see God’s hand guiding me at every stage, especially when I didn’t know what to do.

When I was a kid, time passed so slowly. Now it feels like I have been carried away downstream by a rapid river.

And somehow I’ve acquired raft-mates. Five of them.

One more thing

I’ve saved a lot of Current-related material in a trunk in my basement. But probably the most interesting is a copy of the video that Erin Stremmel filmed while we were producing the 1000th issue of The Current.

A few years ago I edited it a little and included it with a DVD of family videos. I figured maybe I should post it here for others to remember and enjoy.

Important note: As some may remember from the initial screening of this video at that alumni dinner 10 years ago, most of this video does not have sound. There was a camera problem.

To watch this movie, you need Apple’s QuickTime software installed on your computer.

About Josh Renaud

I'm the Emperor of the Renaud Empire, which is to say that I'm the husband of a Boliviana and the father of three daughters and one son. When I'm not conquering lands and expanding borders, I'm a newspaper designer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Find me on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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10 Responses to The Current passes swiftly

  1. Anita Renaud says:

    Aah, Josh…those were heady days. I took so much pride in your editorial columns, your initiative to reach out to college friends to start a Bible study, and your inexhaustible work ethic. I was terrified for your safety while you were in Israel, in the wake of Daniel Pearl’s execution, but envious that you were able to walk the ground of Jesus’ homeland. I had no idea how much larger your adventure would become, as you began a friendship with a young lady in Bolivia….

    • Josh Renaud says:

      Israel was a great trip, and I know a lot of people thought I was crazy to visit because of the recent “second intifada”. (FWIW, Daniel Pearl was killed the following February) But it was worth it. I plan to write about that trip soon.

  2. Wow, Josh….great footage! Can’t believe how young most of us look! You must preserve this for history, even if only to show today’s designers what light tables and paste-up boards looked like…not to mention delivering the flats to the police station post midnight. (Kind of like me bringing little pieces of lead type and a proportion wheel into my newswriting class, back in the day.) And yes, I still have my Current 1000 issues mug. I plan to take it to the nursing home with me….:) Congratulations on still being in journalism after 10 years. The time has gone by fast..and yet it seems like eons ago. I am so happy for you! (Like your new blog platform, too.)

    • Josh Renaud says:

      Thanks, Judi! With that 1000th issue, I think like 90-100% of it was supposed to be digitally produced, but we still sent flats as a backup. Making the flats was tortuous that night… We had just that one little printer and it couldn’t keep up with us. We totally blew past deadline. The Press-Journal driver had to wait an hour or two for us to finish.

      I got home very late. Slept so soundly I didn’t hear P-J calling to let me know there was a problem. I think they ended up printing one of the sections from flats instead of digitally because of that.

      • David Baugher says:

        I wasn’t there for the final rush but I do recall pulling an all-nighter the evening before on the features section. Fun night.

  3. David Baugher says:

    Yep. I remember becoming editor. The anticipation of August, the blinding endless work of September, the string of staffing crises in October and December. By January things seemed to smooth out and I felt fairly at home as editor.

    Learned a lot during my four years at the paper. Fortunately, I’ve forgotten most of it since then. Didn’t even need therapy. My favorite memories were Sunday nights after the paper went out. I used to sit in the old writer’s room and unwind looking at the growing wall of newspapers produced during my year. Then Monday, I’d tack the next issue up. It was very cathartic to take the completed wall down at the end of the year.

    I still have all the issues from that wall.

    • Josh Renaud says:

      Dave, as you may remember, I continued that tradition in the new office in the MSC. I think they may still be doing it to this day, though I’m not 100% sure. It’s been a year or two since I last visited the office.

      I miss the writer’s room. When nobody else was around, it was the quietest place on campus and it had a great view.

  4. Regina Ahrens Engelken says:

    Greetings from another former Current editor – Jan to Dec 1973. (It was the last year the editor served for the calendar year. That’s something I changed before my tenure ended.) I joined the staff as associate editor the first semester of my freshman year. The editor, Judy Klamon, and the business manager had recruited me from McCluer High School. It was a grueling introduction to UMSL.

    At the end of ’73, Judy married my news editor, Bill Townsend. Two years later, I married the Class of ’75 Student Body President, Bob Engelken. Bob and I divorced after 7 years, Bill and Judy after 35 years. On July 4, 2009, Bill and I got married.

    By the way, I lived in Florissant while going to UMSL and admired the writing of one Judi Linville, Features Editor of the North and Northwest County Journals. Two years after graduation, I became Features Editor of the Clayton and West County Citizens, sister publications to the Journals. Judi and I became – and remain – good friends. I wish *my* Current had had a sponsor – especially one like Judi.

    Thanks for the memories and congratulations on surviving print journalism!

  5. Regina Ahrens Engelken says:

    Josh, The Current offices were on the second floor of the student union bldg at the time. I don’t know what that bldg is called now. The student government offices were in the original UMSL bldg, the old country club. And, yes, there was a student effort to save it from demolition, with obvious results. The Blue Metal Bldg housed the UMR Engineering Program.

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