Kevin Woster

Kevin Woster

If you believe in eternal recurrence, you won’t be surprised at all by this column.

It marks my return to the pages of the Rapid City Journal after an absence of more than four years. And I’m happy to be coming home to the newspaper I have read and loved since I was a teenager, one I worked for as a reporter, columnist and blogger for more than 16 years.

I left the Journal in August of 2013 because of the management at the time. I return now, not as a full-time staffer but as a regular columnist on this page, because of new management.

I sense in that management a genuine commitment to re-connecting with readers and with the community in ways that faltered in recent years. And I hope to be a part of that, even if it’s a smaller part than in the past.

Friedrich Nietzsche would not be surprised by my return. The German philosopher promoted the eternal recurrence notion, suggesting that “your whole life, like a sandglass, will always be reversed and will ever run out again.”

This latest reversal in the flowing sands of my life began a few weeks ago when my cell phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID and recognized but couldn’t quite place the number: 394-8413.

On the third or fourth ring I finally answered, “This is Kevin,” even as I realized that I was answering my own phone. Or at least my old phone number, the one I used to have in the Rapid City Journal newsroom.

The response from the caller was: “Hey, Kevin, this is Chris Huber down at the Journal. Do you have a minute?”

I like Chris. He’s a West River guy with an easy-going style but a relentless work ethic and gifts in multi-tasking. Even better, I trust Chris. That means a lot.

So I had a minute, then some.

Chris and I worked together for about a year before I left the Journal. Then we saw each other on assignments during the three years I worked as a KELO TV reporter based in Rapid City and during the 10 months since I started blogging and offering radio commentary for South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

And, OK, let me say it before you do: Yes, I have a better face for radio than I did for TV. (I refused to wear the make-up for TV, by the way, even though it was suggested by my managers and probably would have been a good idea, from a visual standpoint.)

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You’ll just have to tolerate the picture of the rough old mug that will run with this column. Initially, I’ll be writing a column every other Sunday. Beyond that, we’ll see.

A few days after that call from Chris, who is now the managing editor, I joined him in a meeting at the Journal with Editorial Page Editor Pat Butler, a friend and colleague at both the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the Journal, and with Publisher Eugene Jackson.

I liked Eugene right away and not just because he loves to hunt and fish. I was encouraged by the respect he showed for local people and our opinions and his commitment to local news and improved community relations.

He must have thought I was OK, too, because here I am, back again, in a recurrence that might or might not be eternal but certainly is familiar and comfortable.

It’s enough to put a smile on this old, un-made-up face.

Kevin Woster has been a reporter in South Dakota for 40 years. He now writes a blog and does radio commentary for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He can be reached by emailing kevinwoster@rushmore.com.

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