A Q&A with a Texas Journalism Icon
Name: Rick Casey
Occupation: Host of the local PBS affiliate’s TV show “Texas Week with Rick Casey”
Hometown: St. Louis, but calls Texas home
Today, you’d never know that he: flunked both Latin and typing in high school.
After 40-plus years in print journalism, Rick Casey (B.A. ’68) is tackling television. His show airs on San Antonio’s public broadcasting affiliate KLRN, where he presents the week’s most important stories, people and issues in depth. We chatted with him about his career, which took root at St. Mary’s.
Q: What was the biggest story you covered while you were editor of The Rattler student newspaper?
Casey: I don’t trust my memory after so many years. But we were dealing with major national issues, especially civil rights and the Vietnam War. One big story happened when Dick Gregory (an African-American comedian, civil rights activist and social satirist) spoke on campus, and a reporter from the now-defunct San Antonio Light took his comments out of context, sensationalizing them and causing a huge reaction. The alumni office was deluged with hateful calls.
Q: Is it true your first job in journalism involved traveling the country in a camper?
Casey: I proposed to the National Catholic Reporter that I travel around the country to find and write features for them. I submitted clips of mine that persuaded the editors I could pull it off. I learned how to go into a community I didn’t know and talk to enough people to identify and research a story of national interest.
Q: Why the move to television?
Casey: An 18-minute interview is considered “in-depth” by TV standards, whereas for a single column I might conduct hours of interviews and other research to get command of the topic. The two forms accomplish different things. The TV interview gives the viewer a sense of the person being interviewed in a way I couldn’t do in a column.
One thing I appreciate and enjoy is that, unlike writing a column, television is a team sport. At KLRN about half a dozen people see it as part of their job to keep me from looking stupid. It’s a tough task, but they’re very good at it.
Q: Any advice for aspiring journalists?
Casey: It’s a difficult time for journalism because the economic model of its largest traditional employer – the daily newspaper – is under such stress, but there will always be a demand for good writing. My advice is to write and publish (or post, or air) as much as you can while in school, and expect to spend your 20s in an informal apprenticeship, looking for jobs at which you will learn more than you earn.