Bio

The Story of Me

Author, teacher, father of seven and really swell guy.

I can’t tell you how good that felt.

That’s me (right) in my favorite outfit, when we lived in Warrington, England in the late 1950s. I was born in Indianapolis, and grew up in Warrington; Weisbaden, Germany; Omaha, Nebraska; Homestead, Florida; and Fort Worth, Texas.

This idyllic-looking town (below) is Cohasset, Massachusetts, where I live. Yes, it really is that pretty.

Sometimes, I feel as if I live in a Norman Rockwell painting. This town is rosy-cheeked wholesome and we even have milkmen here.

Every spring, all the townspeople gather for the annual baseball parade. We meet on the Common and then, with the high school’s marching band, we walk to the baseball field, where we raise the American flag, sing the national anthem, then draw straws and stone to death the person with the shortest straw.

The quintessential New England town, as I say.

Here’s a photo I took of the Cohasset shore in winter ….

Okay, that’s enough Chamber of Commerce stuff for a while. Onto my life history.

If you think you crossed paths with me in childhood, please keep in touch. I’m always on the lookout for old friends — Alan Rinehart, Paul Franks, Ricky Wilson (who nicknamed my big brother ‘Bowels’) and the eternally beautiful Mary Savage.

Back to the family ….

I don’t have a lot of pictures of my father because he was always the one with the camera. Here we are in our England days. That’s my mother — in a cool Norwegian sweater — holding me while brother Charles and sister Suzanne flank her.

My father was a flight surgeon in the Air Force, hence all of our moves. He retired from the service and opened a private practice in Bloomington, Indiana, which is as close as I have to a hometown. I was in the last class to ever graduate from University High School in Bloomington,  and earned two degrees at Indiana University.

As a grownup, I’ve lived in Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Florida and Massachusetts.

I began working for daily newspapers when I was 14 and later worked for a couple of magazines, The American Spectator and The Saturday Evening Post.

As a young and somewhat poorly dressed reporter, The Courier-Tribune, Bloomington, Indiana, September 1973. Photo by Neil Sharrow.

I fell into academia and began my teaching career at Western Kentucky University. I taught there for five years, then moved to the University of Oklahoma, where I earned a doctorate while serving as faculty member and assistant director of the school of journalism and mass communication. I left after four years to join the journalism faculty at the University of Florida. I was there for 24 years and chaired the journalism department for the last 12 years there.

I moved to Boston University in 2010 and I chair its journalism department.

Here is my resume if you want the gory details.

C’est moi!

I have seven children: Sarah, a designer who lives in Brooklyn; Graham, a university administrator in Indiana; Mary, a nightlife impresario in Chicago; Savannah, a college student in Florida; and Jack, Travis and Charley, young scholars in Cohasset. They are all active in sports and music, which means that my main function in life is to be a chauffeur. But I love it.

In addition, I have two granddaughters, Mabel (daughter of Graham and wife Amanda) and Pearl (daughter of Sarah and partner David).

A daily ritual: worshipping at the altar of a newspaper.

I’ve written or edited 13 books and you can learn the details here.

I love teaching and I consider myself on call for anyone who’s ever been in one of my classes.

I love hearing from former students — and there are a lot of them. This fall will mark my 40th year as a teacher. It’s been a supreme pleasure.

In the words of Joe Walsh, “Life’s been good to me so far.”

WM