Matt Schuckman column sig

Many nights throughout the past two decades I have sat at my desk with music blaring through my headphones as I delved deeper into a story.

My social media followers know this and often provide listening suggestions.

Traditionally, I gravitate to hard rock — Van Halen, Shinedown, Godsmack, etc. — but my choices vary with the situation and the tone of the story. Sometimes I need something more mellow like Bruce Hornsby or Billy Joel or something acoustic. Country has a place in my catalog, too.

There’s where Blackhawk fits in.

A country band with hits in the early to mid-1990s — my college years — Blackhawk became a radio staple with a couple of multi-platinum albums. It’s biggest charting record is the one that came to mind and I played as I penned this column.

Goodbye says it all.

Here, Blackhawk, is where I disagree.

There aren’t enough words in goodbye to say it all.

Thank you doesn’t say it all, either.

Officially, this newsroom turned into my home away from home 22 years ago when I left Columbia, Mo., and joined The Herald-Whig staff as a full-time sports writer. Honestly, it felt like home long before that.

Nearly 32 years ago, I walked into this newsroom for the first time, a slightly terrified, yet eager applicant looking for a part-time job. Across the desk sat an intimidating presence I had grown up reading and now had to try to impress.

What I came to learn was Don Crim wasn’t as gruff or intimidating as he seemed that day. He went from being my first boss in this business to my mentor to my biggest fan. Thank you isn’t enough for what he’s done for me, which includes bringing me home what now seems like a lifetime ago.

The bigger thank you goes to the coaches, the athletes and the families who welcomed me into their world and allowed me to tell their stories. You granted me access, answered my questions and found a way to allow me to do more than report the who, what, when and where.

You gave me the opportunity to tell the whys and the hows.

You trusted me enough to lower your guard, pour out your emotion and let me tell the stories of celebration and heartache, success and failure, victory and loss.

With that trust came responsibility, and I hope I held up my end of that deal.

To the loyal readers, thank you for investing your time and appreciation for what this newsroom has always attempted to do — provide in-depth coverage of the stories that matter to you. Keeping the sports-minded communities informed has been the ultimate goal.

You craved answers to the whys and hows, and I hope I provided them.

As I prepare to leave this newsroom for a final time, goodbye cannot say it all. Thank you cannot either. There’s been too much time, energy and emotion invested in this job to sum up my gratitude with such simple phrases.

Yet, nothing says it better either.

So thank you and goodbye. Hopefully that says enough.

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