A young kid walks into the Kansan ...

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan

I’m a little late with this, but it was 35 years and about 17 days ago when a snot-nosed, wet-under-the-ears kid from Ohio strolled into Newton, Kan., and became your new sports editor.

As the Grateful Dead sang, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

When I started, we had around 40 people working here. Today, it’s about four.

Our word processor was about 12 feet long and 3 feet high. If a floppy disc got a scratch in it, you were in deep trouble and had to do a lot of rewriting.

My first Tandy laptop, which I got in the late ’80s, did more. My cellphone now does more than my Tandy laptop.

In my time, I’ve seen a lot of teams in the area win and others not win. I’ve covered about two generations of area athletes. And it won’t be too long before I start covering grandkids of people I covered when I started.

I wasn’t quite sure what my goals would be when I joined the Kansan staff. My training was in radio and television, and my dream (and it still is) was to someday own my own radio and/or TV station.

I set up one of those social funding sites to raise between $6 to $10 million to buy a group of radio stations in the area (which includes the sole commercial FM station licensed to Newton. Who here remembers “Beautiful Music” KOEZ), which has gone through a turbulent period? They were off the air for a while, and at least one that I know of is still off the air. Some have gone on and off the air at irregular intervals.

I am still about $6 to $10 million short of my goal. (It will take between $4 to $6 to purchase the stations and equipment and about another $4 million to operate until they can gain sufficient income to operate on their own.)

And I wouldn’t bother actually donating, I’m about to shut it down. It was more a joke for myself and my friends.

One of the stations was promoting itself as “Red Dirt Country,” (the Oklahoma-North Texas scene) but came back on the air as contemporary pop country. One is programmed as Bob FM, an adult oldies format it retained when it returned to the air. One is a news-talk station out of Wellington. One is a “Rhythmic Oldies” station out of Wellington. One is a relatively low-power (250 watts daytime, 1 watt night) adult contemporary station out of Wellington and one (my favorite) is an AAA (adult album alternative) station that played everything from ’80s college radio bands (which is what I played in college radio) to alternative/outlaw country such as Ray Wylie Hubbard and Jason Isbell.

The latter two are currently off the air and risk their license getting canceled if they aren’t brought back soon. The only station in town doing anything close to the AAA format is public station KMUW for a couple of hours a night.

My last thing here has to do with the Royal Australian Navy. And I’m a bit worried about the RAN.

Like a lot of you, I’ve been home a lot more than I used to be and have been watching a lot more streaming content than I used to. I try to look out for things out of the ordinary and found a show from the “Land Down Under” called “Sea Patrol.”

The show concentrates on the crew of the HMAS Hammersley, a patrol boat of the Royal Australian Navy.

While the RAN does operate a blue-water fleet much like its U.S. counterpart (and actually has a good reputation at it), the Hammersley’s mission is closer to that of the U.S. Coast Guard — looking for contraband, weapons, drugs, people smuggling, piracy and making sure pleasure and fishing craft are in worthy condition operating within the law.

But the problem is, the Hammersley’s crew almost every week is taken hostage, assaulted or otherwise having bad things happen to them. They always forget to check lower holds for someone armed, then that person who they forget about puts a gun to someone’s head and takes a hostage.

Sometimes whole boats get held hostage, including the Hammersley itself.

I’m also worried about the ship’s lack of medical personnel. Yes, a ship with a crew of about 20 people would not necessarily need a ship’s doctor, but this one does. The crew’s medical personnel is a coxswain (a petty officer in charge of navigation and steering) and an able seaman (about the equivalent of an E-3 in the U.S. forces), who is the ship’s cook.

And they are expected to do things a lot of MD surgeons don’t see every day — from jellyfish stings to radiation sickness.

And just a few episodes short of the thrilling conclusion, my streaming service cut me off, which they are want to do because of contractual obligations, putting new shows on and taking old shows off, so I can’t see how they get themselves in trouble for about the last five shows.

Mark Schnabel is the sports editor of the Kansan.