A lot of folks grumble and growl and punch the air when they see commentary they dislike on TV. Others scrunch the editorial page into a ball. And swear they will never read that rag again. Maybe you are one of them?
Well, I have been a rare and lucky guy. I got to express such feelings in this column. Along with other feelings and observations. I got to do the same on public television. And on commercial radio. For several decades.
All of this has come to an end. This is my final column.
At 16, I was the kid who dared to disagree with nuns and other teachers. The kid whose hard head butted too often with his father’s. A kid with strong opinions who just wanted to express them, whether they were welcome or not.
At 21, fresh from Navy journalism, I tried to syndicate a column. With no luck.
At 22 in New Zealand (where I had moved), a big Sunday paper took on my column, “Yank in Kiwi land” and ran it on its front page. Suddenly, I was a columnist. That was 56 years ago. Later, another Sunday paper ran another column of mine, also on its front page.
Meanwhile, a child specialist teamed up with me to syndicate a column on raising children. That ran throughout New Zealand. I am afraid to check on how some of those kids turned out.
My paper’s lovelorn columnist ran off, so I filled in for her for a while (under the title “Tell Tom”). That was painful and still gives me nightmares.
Meanwhile, an advertising journal also ran my monthly column. There, I evaluated good and bad ads. All these columns were sidelines. My real job was as an advertising writer and PR executive.
After returning to the United States I persuaded the New York Times to run several of my pieces on its op-ed pages. Today the Times would tar and feather me for those articles — so far left has it moved.
Around 1978, PBS in Binghamton let me create a weekly televised commentary. On things to do with finance. It was like a column, only spoken, five-minutes long. Binghamton offered it all over the PBS system. For a while, people stopped me in distant cities, saying, “Wait a minute. I know you. You’re…you’re…you’re somebody, aren’t you?”
The TV column morphed into a daily column on finances for radio. We syndicated it to over 150 stations across the country. San Louis Obispo, Tucumcari, Beloit, Madison, Lima, and all points east. Especially Reading, Rochester, Jamestown, Utica, Syracuse, Albany, Oneonta, Norwich.
Like the TV show, it was called “Tom Morgan’s Money Talk.” If you don’t remember it you might remember its greeting: “Hi pal.” Or it’s ending: “This is Tom……as in… Morgan.” The ending was a device that allowed me to lengthen the program, if necessary, to exactly three minutes. I stole the idea from Paul Harvey. You see, this is why he ended with “Paul Harvey… good… day!”
The man who syndicated Ronald Reagan’s radio commentary encouraged me and might have taken me on. The man who syndicated Rush Limbaugh offered to try me out with my own talk show. I turned him down and never regretted it. I don’t think I would have been a success in that format.
When we ended the radio program it was the longest-running syndicated short feature in the history of American radio.
By recording ahead, we never missed a broadcast. Not during world travel, three heart attacks, bypass surgery, and a world record 40 cardiac stents. One time I excused myself from a dinner with an Irish lord and lady to phone in the program from the library of their huge castle in Ireland. I don’t believe they were impressed.
Another program came from a mountain peak in Switzerland. Others from the Concorde, QE II, a sidewalk café in Paris, and cricket stadiums in England, the Caribbean, and New Zealand.
A short while into those 38 years I began this column. It may have broken a few records as well.
The telecasts, broadcasts, and radio shows indirectly helped my wife and I to build one of the largest investment practices in the country. And that practice blessed us with hundreds of friendships.
When you express your opinions you pick up enemies, of course. And friends. The friends have outnumbered the others by a large multiple. But maybe that is because enemies stop listening and reading. Although a few attacked like junk yard dogs. A few times I had to threaten to call the police. Fortunately, a lot of folks who hate my opinions keep their opinions to themselves. So we get along just fine.
If you want to read any more of my stuff you could buy my novel “The Last Columnist” at Amazon. It comes up when you enter the title as well as my name. Several months from now we will come out with “Trial In Cooperstown.” This book visits the classic American jury trial in a village many call America’s Hometown.
Thank you everyone who has written to me, whether to pat my head or rip it off. My gratitude to the many newspapers and stations that carried my offerings. The biggest thank you is to my partner, my wife, Erna. She has a way of making everything possible. I have long been one of the luckiest guys on the face of this earth.
Now, keep flexing your right airhook. Practice scrunching. And keep your grumbles and growls warmed up. I hereby bequeath this world and all its troubles to you. You probably will do a much better job with it than I did.
I have loved writing for you.
From Tom…as in Morgan.
Tom Morgan writes about political, financial, and other subjects from his home in upstate New York. Write Tom at email@example.com or read more of his writing at tomasinmorgan.com.