Originally posted Sunday, September 22, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
I don’t think anyone would mistake me for being terribly adventurous. When I like something, I stick with it. (Ask my primary physician I’ve had for 20-plus years or the subscription department at Rolling Stone magazine, which I have dutifully received via snail mail since the mid-1980s.)
So regular readers here would not be shocked that this month, I celebrate 15 years as an entertainment blogger at the AJC. I started a blog about radio in 2004, added a second blog about “American Idol” in 2005, merged radio with TV in 2007 and then had all three combined as one in 2011.
Over those years, I estimate I’ve written at least 12,000 items, bringing in more than 120 million page views. That’s a whole lotta bloviating! That includes 200 recaps of “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” hundreds of “Idol”-related critiques, dozens of Regular Guys/Frank Ski/Steak Shapiro/Neal Boortz references, set visits to “Stranger Things” and “The Walking Dead,” and interviews with everyone from Jon Stewart to Betty White to Kevin Hart. It’s been a fun ride and I hope the ride won’t end any time soon.
The blog started by happenstance. There was no grand strategic plan. I don’t even think there was an official meeting about it.
In 2004, the digital team was seeking fresh content. Blogging was hot at the time. They had already started a blog called “Misadventures in Atlanta” about dating. An editor there then asked me in September, 2004 to do one for radio.
I was given the platform and would be able to post any time about anything radio related with no editor to fix my typos. That was an unusual type of freedom when print stories at the time were typically screened by at least three people before they made it onto the page.
Fortunately, I got to write about something I truly loved: radio. And I already knew the turf well, having covered it for the AJC sinc 2001.
Our AJC internal archives don’t include any of my blog entries from 2004 through early 2008 so finding them took some hunting via archive.org. And none of the entries are live anymore via ajc.com. (In comparison, all 170 stories from my college days are actually available here so you’ll be able to say, “Wow. That guy’s writing has actually gotten worse over the years!”)
Archive.org, which was known for many years as the Wayback Machine, allowed me to see entry links going back to December 16, 2004 but those early entries were not saved by the site. So the best I have are the headlines:
Started in the spring of 2005, archive.org did start archiving my entries, a sign they were generating enough traffic to make it worthwhile. The early stories were frequently very very short and quite casual. At the time, I didn’t post my fully reported stories at all on the blog. Those stories would just end up in print and sometimes, be posted in a separation location on ajc.com.
By September, 2005, I started adding photos!
And at that point, I had started adding local TV personalities as well.
That was also the first year I started covering American Idol on a separate blog.
Here is an early blog entry I wrote in which I was not all that impressed with Carrie Underwood. (Sorry!)
I definitely favored Bo Bice over Carrie during the season and even visited Birmingham for his huge finale party. But he lost. And Carrie is now a huge star. Go figure. And I thanked my relatively few readers that first season 4, which I did every year for the next decade plus.
The Idol blog became much more popular in ensuing years. It built a hardy community back when commenting on blogs was a thing before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter took over.
During the season 7 finale recap in 2008, when David Cook won, there were 243 comments from the likes of regulars at the time like flats, Songluvr,JTesla, War Eagle, Woodpappy, Tami and the woman who would ultimately be the de facto moderator Deirdre. Although there was the occasional troll, the blog was super fun, even off season.
But “Idol” eventually lost popularity and the Powers That Be retired my blog after season 10. I have continued to blog about “Idol,” loyal to a fault.
With “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” debuting in 2008 and “The Walking Dead” starting in 2010, I had even more fodder to write about. Of course, radio continued to provide me plenty of weird stories from the likes of former Kicks morning host Moby getting bitten by a lion and V-103’s Elle Duncan cursing out a producer over the air.
The tax credits also brought in a raft of new shows and movies, allowing me more fodder. And CBS46 provided me far more than its fair share of bizarro situations, peaking with Sharon Reed’s tenure.
I now generate 800-plus stories a year and I still love my job. There’s never a dull moment. I’ve gotten to interview Oprah Winfrey twice, do a Q&A with Jason Bateman for SAG-AFTRA, hang out with Bill Murray while he was shooting “Get Low,” have lunch with Henry Winkler and see Kelly Clarkson numerous times in concert. Atlanta magazine has profiled me.
I’ve also been Twitter blocked by Kim Zolciak and was on the receiving end of a “Fire Rodney Ho” Twitter page (which fortunately never took off.)
This is my way to show my gratitude to all my readers over the past 15 years. In an industry perpetually being challenge, I wouldn’t be here without you.
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