Remembering Allie

This is my favorite picture of usI’m back at home now after burying my precious Allie on Friday in her hometown of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. The church was filled with flowers, and the service was upbeat and memorable. The anchor team from WAAY-TV in the 90s was there, and several served as pall bearers. Hundreds of people showed up at the visitation Thursday night to express their love and support.

Her mother, Ma Jane, held up well and was surrounded by family and friends, and I don’t know what I would’ve done without the loving support of my friend Holly from Huntsville, the entire Hughes family, and the hugs and kisses of my sweet daughters, Brittany and Larissa. Death is a time of extreme emotions, and I don’t know how those who don’t have a familial support system endure the agony of such a loss.

It’s raining here in Nashville as I write this, and that pretty much describes my mood. But I’m going to be okay, and it’s going to be okay. I have that deep, unshakeable assurance this morning. I know there are many bad days ahead, and that I’ll burst into tears over the silliest of things, but I also know that she wants me to move forward, and that’s a part of what I want to talk to you about this morning.

There have been more than a few raised eyebrows over the post I wrote upon returning from the hospital Tuesday morning. Let me explain.

I believe — as Doug Rushkoff wrote in his book “Get Back in the Box” — that the internet isn’t a media phenomenon or a technical phenomenon as much as it is a social phenomenon. In this sense, he wrote, it will change everything. In our increasingly postmodern culture, the greatest social connection we have beyond family is our tribe, a concept both practical and esoteric. We choose our tribe, whereas we don’t choose our family.

We learn from each other, and this, too, is the postmodern way. “I experience (I participate), therefore I understand” isn’t just a bunch of nice words. It’s the cornerstone of all that’s new and all that is to come. If we don’t experience something for ourselves, we look for the experiences of others, especially those close to us.

The sense of loss that I felt that morning was overwhelmed by a fear so profound that I can’t even begin to describe it. My whole world was torn out from beneath me, and I was scared to death. The only — and I mean only — place I felt safe while I was awaiting the arrival of family and friends was right here at my keyboard. If I moved even a few steps away, I began to feel suffocated and would race back. I wrote the post and I sent an e-mail, and what happened after that kept me going. Hundreds upon hundreds of people responded, and I can’t tell you how important that was to me.

People I didn’t know (I’m apparently a member of many other tribes) shared their thoughts, poems, condolences and experiences, and that was enormously helpful to one so adrift in fear and the unknown. This is profound in its implications for the future of humankind, and I hope you all can see that. We are not alone. None of us. We need each other, and we have the shared knowledge and capacity for compassion that will save the world. I mean that with all my heart. Our institutions have failed, but we will not.

Blogger and Marcom:Interactive president Gary Goldhammer wrote a beautiful post later that day that touched on this: Death in the blogosphere: what we gained from Terry Heaton’s loss. He writes about the outpouring of love expressed in the comments to my post and makes a very important observation:

Many of these mourners knew Terry only through his writing. They didn’t know Terry personally, they didn’t know his wife, and they didn’t know Terry’s favorite food or football team. Yet the pain in these people’s comments seeps through the computer screen as if Terry was a blood relative. There are condolences, poems, prayers and personal reflections. There are people stripped of all pretense and puffery, commenting not out of the need to get links, but the need to share love.

Say what you want about bloggers and social media. Question blogging�s veracity and its place in the world of modern communications. But never question the power of one man with a computer and something to say to move a multitude of strangers.

Through his loss, Terry Heaton has given us all the opportunity to connect in a deeply personal way to him, Allie, and each other. And for that, Terry, we thank you from the bottom of our blogging hearts.

My faith in God has never wavered during this time and has been the greatest source of strength in getting through the past few days. It was a faith I shared with Allie, and I want to leave you with these thoughts about it.

We were unable to attend church very much, but that didn’t bother either of us, and I’m sure it didn’t bother the Lord. We talked a lot about her upbringing in the church and the struggles she’d had with faith in the years following a dreadful family tragedy involving her father. But her middle name was Faith, and so she just lived it. For Allie, it wasn’t so much what you espoused as what you did, and especially as it related to other people. She was always saying hello to complete strangers — in the store, on the street, anywhere. She LOVED life and spread happiness and joy wherever she found herself.

We read the Bible before going to bed, and she loved the Psalms. She was fascinated by the Old Testament stories and adored the red words, but it was the Psalms that ministered to her the most. After we’d read, we’d kiss and say, “Time to go nye-nye, go seep seep. ‘He gives to His beloved sleep.’” She loved that verse most of all, and it was the last thing I said to her as we closed the casket.

My prayer for each of you this day is that God will bless you and keep you. May He repay you in kind for the love and support you’ve so generously shared with me. And may you experience — if even for a moment — the love that I found in my precious Allie.

My Allie’s funeral arrangements

Thank you for the outpouring of love. I’m incredibly sad, because I miss her so much, but the well wishes from former co-workers and friends has been inspirational. It’s a testament to my beloved.

Here are the funeral details:

Visitation will be held on Thursday, April 27 at the Pettis Turnbo Funeral Home at 501 W Gaines St., Lawrenceburg, Tenn.; from 4:00 to 9:00 PM.

The funeral will be held on Friday, April 28 at 10:30 AM, at the First Baptist Church of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., on Springer Road.

The funeral will be followed by interment at the OK Baptist Church Cemetery, at the corner of Grandaddy Road and OK Road, Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

If you can make it, I’d love to see you. If not, I’d love to fill the church with flowers. She loved them in life and spent most of the last month planting them around the outside of our house.

My beloved rests in peace

My precious and beautiful wife, Allie, passed away during the night. I found her lifeless body on the floor of the bathroom at 3:30 a.m. The paramedics did everything they could, but she was already gone. We have no idea what happened. She was young (41). She was fit. She was so full of life that it’s, frankly, very hard to believe she is gone.

I’m in shock and obviously grieving, but I wanted to let you know and write a few words about what she meant to me. It’s my way.

She was my life, folks. She was my inspiration, the one who reached in and brought out all my essays. With her unrelenting encouragement, I’ve written 65 or so essays about broadcasting, postmodernism and new media. None of that would’ve been possible without my Alicia Faith.

She was everything to me, and I worked hard to let her know that. I’d been married a couple of times before she came back into my life a few years ago, and I wasn’t very good at it. She was different, so very different, and with her, I honestly felt the love, respect and support that the experts talk about when describing good marriages. She was my rock, too, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.

I’ll likely not be blogging for awhile. We don’t know about funeral arrangements and all that just yet, but I’ll try to let you know the when and where. Meanwhile, I could sure use your prayers right now. No man ever expects to bury his bride, especially one so young and healthy.

She knew I loved her, and I knew she loved me. We were fortunate and blessed for that. We just talked about it yesterday, about how our love had actually grown since our wedding 18 months ago. I’m so very lucky to have had those months with such a precious and pure soul. Words cannot express how much I miss her.

May God hold her safely in His arms now and forever.

Winer: Amateur isn’t below professional

Amy Gahran at Poynter points to the interview last week of Dave Winer by Rocketboom. This is Amy’s favorite quote and now mine too.

“Amateur is not below professional. It’s just another way of doing [media]. The root of the word amateur is love, and someone who does something for love is an amateur. Someone who does something to pay the bills is a professional. The amateurs have [more integrity than] the professionals. If you’re an amateur you have less conflict of interest and less reason not to tell your truth than if you have to pay the bills and please somebody else.”
Let’s not forget that the idea of elevating professional journalism to its current pedestal was the social engineering dream of Walter Lippmann, who viewed the masses as ignorant and in need of an educated élite to lead them, among which were “professional” journalists.

Happy Birthday, NiT

Nashville Is Talking, the popular Nashville blog aggregator site hosted by my client, WKRN-TV,is one year old today. Go read the post and remember: this could be your station and your market.

Next up for them is an ad network to generate revenue for both the station and the bloggers.

Congrats, Brittney. We couldn’t have done it without you.

The Real Threat to Local Broadcasters

Here is the latest essay in the ongoing series “TV News in a Postmodern World.” This is a follow-up to the last essay, “Investing in a Local Future,” and examines the battle for the soul of the “local” franchise for media companies.

As broadcasters gather in Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters annual meeting, they do so with what I believe is a false sense of understanding about what’s tearing their business model apart. The disruption isn’t multiple platforms from which to sell their wares; it’s the Personal Media Revolution — as Glenn Reynolds so beautifully puts it, “The triumph of personal technology over mass technology” — and beneath it, the increasing drain on local advertising money by outsiders.

The shift of ad dollars from broadcasting to the web has been confirmed in many ways, but the shift hasn’t significantly impacted the bottom lines of local broadcasters. Why is that?

To paraphrase Ross Perot, “That sucking sound you hear is local ad dollars going to businesses with no investment in the local community.” Moreover, as smart technology companies up the ante in the local INFORMATION space, local media companies are in danger of losing this franchise altogether. Overstated? Perhaps, but it’s dangerous to underestimate players who have proven they know what they’re doing and aren’t afraid to invest a few dollars to experiment. Read on:

The Real Threat to Local Broadcasters