In 52 years as a journalist, Kerry Craig said the high point in his career was March 14, 2001. That Wednesday in March was the day he moved to Sulphur Springs to work for the local newspaper. Craig, who has reported news in radio and print media, said journalists often move from place to place and they evaluate and choose communities where they will exercise their life’s passion. He noted the welcome and reception he received locally made Sulphur Springs his home town. “It just took me a while to get here,” he said. On Tuesday, at the invitation of KSST News, Craig reviewed his 52 years as a journalist.
Craig has enjoyed the close working relationship that existed over the years between KSST and the local newspaper. He stated that one of the most fun news stories to report happened several years ago when he and the late Bill Bradford of KSST covered a story regarding a woman that planned to purchase a local residence and surrounding property to establish an internet movie studio. The woman stated that she would employee thousands of people in the endeavor. Craig and Bradford both had their doubts. Craig’s story appeared in the weekend paper. On the cold December Monday that followed, he said the then publisher of the local newspaper, Scott Keys, asked him to focus on that story and find out everything he could about the woman and the project. Two weeks of deep digging resulted in discovering the woman who said she would pay more than the value of the residence and property had been recently evicted from her rented home in Florida, according to Craig. The story of the woman’s attempted con continues to live through the internet. Craig stated he is contacted from time to time regarding the story as others seek information on the woman.
His relationship with law enforcement and EMS is deeply rooted. Having been first on scene at accidents on several occasions in the beginning of his career, Craig determined to become involved in what became the early days of Emergency Medical Services. He began going on calls with the local funeral home that doubled as an ambulance service. From that came his becoming certified through training in EMS. That work gave additional insight into covering stories related to law enforcement.
Hopkins County Sheriff Lewis Tatum told KSST News that Craig’s coverage of law enforcement has assisted the various departments in maintaining communication with the community. Criminal Investigator Dennis Findley said Craig’s integrity in coverage assisted in holding the department to high standards and gave the public a true view of their work.
Craig began his career in journalism in Abilene, Texas in the spring of 1966. After a couple of years out of school, he had no idea what he wanted to do. A family friend offered him a job at the only 24 hour FM radio station in Abilene at that time. FM radio was new. He worked midnight until 6 a.m. That’s where he got into the news business. The radio newsman on staff would read the news from the Abilene Reporter News in the morning. Craig decided there was more to radio news so he sought permission to dig deeper. With permission, Craig added more content to the stories reported by the station news director and from there his work in journalism began.
In the ‘70’s Craig worked in Brownwood with an old friend, Dave Fair. Mobile news cruisers were gaining momentum as on the scene reports became more common. The news team won numerous awards including a best in state newscast. The top award came when Craig was in the control room and his two news partners were introducing the top stories of the day. He remembered that just as they went on the air a tornado was hitting Sweetwater, over 100 miles away. He scribbled a note. Held the note to the window between him and the other two and with a tease regarding a tornado hitting Sweetwater and a few commercials properly placed, and a phone call or two, they went on air with an actuality that included Sweetwater residents who had endured the storm.
Craig said journalism is fun to do. He noted telling the story of people’s lives and stories of what is going on in the community that affect people’s lives creates the environment that makes work fun. It also adds to the sense of community that can be experienced as people share life.
He entered print media 38 years ago when he married his wife, Kelley. He had been at a radio station in San Angelo but moved back to Abilene. In Abilene he was working as news director and broadcast operations manager for two radio stations with four newscasts per station per hour. With eight deadlines per hour, burnout didn’t take long. On a visit to family friends, he found that Kelley had recently moved to Abilene. Her dad owned a weekly newspaper in Winters, Texas. Three months later, he became a reporter and then editor of the weekly paper. He found that a weekly newspaper deadline was much more accommodating than radio deadlines. His father-in-law died a few months later. Working in newspaper allowed more opportunity for the creative and inclusive style that Craig brings to his reporting.
In all the changes from one radio station or newspaper to another, Craig has always planned to use his first day of unemployment to smoke a brisket. In most instances, he has not had the time. With the number of friends in media and the reputation he has established his phone keeps ringing with opportunities. His career has taken him to radio stations and newspapers of various sizes. He moved to Sulphur Springs as News Editor and Assistant Managing Editor from Decatur where he had worked with the award winning Wise County Messenger. That move was brought about by a friendship established with the managing editor of the local paper.
What does his future hold? He is not sure but one thing he says he knows is that he is staying in Sulphur Springs, reporting news, and serving as a proponent of the local community. Retirement and smoking a brisket will have to wait.