SPORTS EDITOR BLOG — Last Friday, I wrote a feature story on retiring Ole Miss Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Director Langston Rogers. The story had a lot of interesting quotes and information, but unfortunately because of space, I was unable to get our entire 25 minute conversation into the paper. So here are the remaining questions and answers from Rogers for those who may want a little more.
Langston thought about leaving Ole Miss after he garnered his 25 years in the state retirement system to take a new job with a professional team. He mentioned this to Harvey Greene, the current PR director for the Miami Dolphins, and who had one time worked for the New York Yankees. Greene essentially talked him into staying at Ole Miss.
“I was in Washington for a meeting and I was with Harvey Greene of the Miami Dolphins who had been the pr person with the Yankees and I just kind of casually mentioned to Harvey that I had reached a point where I had qualified for retirement in Mississippi and that I was just kind of thinking of what it would be like to move into major league baseball or the NFL. I was surprised at Harvey’s response because he said to me, ‘Langston you have one of the top 12 jobs in America, why would you want to leave?’ I got to thinking about that and I said Harvey is probably right, why would I want to start over when I have an ideal situation at Ole Miss and a position that I’m truly grateful to have and love. It struck a chord with me and just reinforced my belief that the Lord had opened this door and this is where I needed to be.”
I asked Langston to talk about the changes in the business, including the improvement in technology, and how that changed the old ‘Skywriters Tour’ which consisted of reporters traveling all over the SEC to gather their football tab stories.
“The relationship with the student athletes has remained the same. The business has changed. Watergate changed everything with all the investigative reporting and all of that. The other part has been the technology. The technology has just improved by leaps and bounds and it’s just a more fast paced enviornment now. News is 24-7 and for so long it was just newspapers. I remember when I first got here we had the old skywriters tour and they have the airplane that would go around to every school. Before media day, they would go around to each campus and 95 percent of the seats were filled with the newspaper people. Then the TV people started getting into it, so it reached a point. I remember they were leaving here and going to LSU. Well the runway was too short to take off because of all the TV cameras and equipment that the electronic media had on the plane. So they had to unload all the equipment. They got our equipment truck and our people drove the truck with all the equipment to Baton Rouge so they could lift off here in Oxford and fly to Baton Rouge. They realized then that it was just getting too big to go from campus to campus so they started having it over in Birmingham.”
Langston likes the personal side of media relations, a part of the job that has disappeared over the last 10 years thanks to the Internet. He talked about how the promotion part of the business was done prior to dot.com boom.
“I know that when I first got into the league, we would advance games. I remember I would leave here on a Wednesday or Thursday and go to Knoxville or Baton Rouge or New Orleans and I would take my tapes with me for my video people. I would take photographs with me because we didn’t e-mail pictures. I would fly into Knoxville and Tennessee would provide a driver for me and they would take me around all the radio stations and I would do spots with the radio announcers promoting the game. I would go to the TV stations and I would meet with the sports director and I would give them our video tape. Then I would go to the newspaper, the Knoxville-News Sentinel, and visit with the sports editor and give him photographs. That’s how we did things back then. Now you just do it at the keyboard.”
“That’s what I miss. I really do miss the relationships that you built because we would go out to dinner on Thursday or Friday night with radio or TV people and you built that relationships which would certainly be helpful when it came time to vote on All Star teams. People just seemed to have more time back then and they wanted to see you and wanted to visit and they wanted to get your materials. But now it’s just a fast paced, 24-7, they don’t have the time to spend time together. I really do miss those relationships and the young writers, it’s so competitive now. That’s just something that’s missing.” (May 6, 2010)