William Berger

bergerWilliam E. “Bill” Berger was born in Ferris, Illinois on June 6th 1918. His father ran a small grocery store and Berger sold magazines and later had a newspaper route.

He later became a country correspondent for the weekly county journal, located in Carthage. He went to college in Carthage and dropped out after two and a half years. He continued writing for the paper and became a correspondent to larger dailies as well as selling subscriptions.

He went to Kansas in work for the Topeka State-Journal in 1939. He worked in Missouri and South Dakota, as well, before returning to Illinois, where he was drafted to serve in the Pacific Campaign of World War II.

Upon discharge, he returned to San Antonio, initially becoming the Circulation manager for the Gonzales Enquirer, eventually acquiring the Hondo Anvil Herald in 1946.

Bill Berger began his career during the depression when he started a daily newspaper route in his hometown of Carthage, Illinois. He was 12 years old at the time.

He took the next step up the ladder by becoming a correspondent for Chicago and Peoria daily newspapers. He was in high school then and earned the going rate of a few cents for each column inch that appeared in print.

Bill later attended Carthage College, located in his hometown. At that time, he worked as the college’s publicity writer, submitting copy to the local newspaper, the Hancock County Journal.

Following his college years, Bill worked for several Midwestern publications. Included among these re newspapers in lola, Kansas; Rolla, Missouri; and Yankton, South Dakota. He served as circulation manager of each of those newspapers.

His experience during that time included the job of city district manager for the Topeka State Journal, a rather large daily.

Following 18 months in the circulation business, Bill became advertising manager, and later managing editor, of the Tuscola Review, a weekly newspaper in Central Illinois.

About the time he had made a decision to purchase a newspaper, along came World War II, and Bill was sent to Texas for his basic training.

“No man could have been subjected to a worse fate than basic training,” Bill thought. But things looked much brighter shortly thereafter when he met a University of Texas coed by the name of Jerry Barnes. She became Mrs. Bill Berger several months later.

Bill was then sent to the South Pacific for a two-year tour of duty as an Army warrant officer. But he kept his hand in journalism by publishing a camp newsletter.

He then returned to the U.S. and Gonzales, Texas, where Jerry was teaching home economics. Bill took a temporary job with the Gonzales Inquirer. A short time later, the Bergers purchased the Hondo Anvil Herald from retiring publisher Fletcher Davis. Their first issue of the Anvil Herald was dated June 7, 1946.

During the next 20 years, additional newspaper purchases by the Bergers included the Zavala County Sentlnal, Carrlzo Springs Javelin, Seguin Enterprise, Waelder Home Paper, Schert-Cibolo Valley News, Randolph AFB Wingspread and the Sabinal Times. They also took this time to have three children.

The Bergers have since sold all of their properties except the Hondo and Sabinal newspapers.

Bill has also had considerable experience in government service. In 1965, he was appointed to the Texas Water Rights Commission by Gov. John Connally. Following that service, he held subsequent jobs with the Water Quality Board, the State Insurance Commission and the Texas Railroad Commission.

But Bill continued to serve as publisher of the Anvil Herald during those 15 years of work with various state agencies. He also helped establish the weekly magazine supplement, the Texas Star during that time.

Meanwhile, Bill refuses to be retired. With his son, Ed, he now owns and operates Associated Texas Newspapers, Inc., an Austin-based newspaper brokerage and consulting firm.

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My name is William E. Berger, most people call me Bill.  I was born in Ferris, Illinois, which is in Hancock County on the western edge of Illinois near where Iowa and Missouri intersect with Illinois at the Mississippi River.  It is the same county which was the home of the Mormon Church at Nauvoo when they were first organized in a large way.  At the time of 1840s that town was larger than Chicago at that time, but they were driven out after the murder of the Smith brothers and the county declined in population up until just quite recently.  It’s now, still a rural county, primarily a farming county.  I was born there on June 6 of 1918.  My father ran a small-town grocery store and not long after that, as soon as I was old enough, I started my first business in sales.  I sold the magazines and imposed on my neighbors and finally got a paper route when I was about 10 or 12; I’ve forgotten the exact age.  It was the Burlington, Iowa Hawkeye Gazette, which was a town about 30 miles from us and we got the paper every afternoon thrown off a small train or motorcar that came on the route from Burlington to Quincy.  That is my initiation into newspapering.  And I had 30 customers.  They paid ten cents a week and I netted four cents if they paid me.  So my income started out at about a dollar week.

Later on I began writing news as a country correspondent from a little town of about 300 population for a larger county seat weekly, the Hancock County Journal, which is located in Carthage about five miles away.  That town was about 2000 population.  And it also was the home of Carthage College, at that time Lutheran school with about 325 total students and that’s where I wound up going to college.  It was unfortunate but I dropped out after about two and a half years.  It was quite a chore to get the money together and even though it seems ridiculous by today’s standards, the total tuition was $90 a year but that was hard to come by.

The newspaper which I had been writing for was located in the same town as the college and as a result I got to hanging around the newspaper office on every opportunity and took a few pictures for them and wrote features and sports stories.  And then I also picked up correspondent’s fees by writing for dailies from the surrounding area as far away as Chicago or Des Moines if they wanted a story on our college.   So occasionally I’d get a dollar or two or three dollars from those papers as a fee for the correspondents and I also sold subscriptions on commission.  That’s the way I stayed alive in those days.

I was 21 before I finally got an actual salaried job and that was with the circulation service company called Williams Company and he, Mr. Williams made contacts with daily papers to furnish a circulation manager and to build up their subscription lists.  My first assignment was to go to Topeka, Kansas, where I worked for the Topeka State Journal and I went to work on September 1 of 1939.  That was the same day that Hitler marched into Poland and I was a great success when our circulation went up when the war started.

I later was sent to Iola, Kansas; Rolla, Missouri, and Yankton, South Dakota, before the War finally caught up with me.  And I was in Rushville, Illinois, the day the War started helping a friend of mine the editor of the Carthage paper who had bought the Rushville newspaper at that time and it was a competitive situation.  We worked hard for a few months and I drew no salary, it was just a volunteer effort and I lived with him and he fed me and put me up so I didn’t have any expenses or income.  But I was offered a job in Tuscola, Illinois, as managing editor of a weekly.  So I went over there in March of 1942, and worked until July when the draft got me and I had to quit.  So I went from there to Texas, wound up at Camp Swift near Austin, near Bastrop, and on weekends we went to Austin for recreation and to get a hotel meal, my favorite was the Driskill Dining room at that time.  They had an excellent steak for 50 cents as I recall it.

One of the ladies who was at the USO, which had a corner of the Driskill for their desk, offered me a ticket for a barbecue.  She said it’s a free meal so I took it up and went out to The University where the home ec group was serving a dinner for service men; there were about 50 of us who showed up.  And a girl named Jerry Barnes served my plate and we got better acquainted and in fact we were married as soon as I got promotion enough to afford a ring.  So we were married then in February of 1943.  We had been transferred as a division to Fort Sam Houston so we were in San Antonio by that time.

The Army had a habit of moving us quite often so in rapid order I was sent from San Antonio to Louisiana to the California desert then over to Pennsylvania down to Fort Bragg and from Fort Bragg to Seattle and then from Seattle to Honolulu near the place where Pearl Harbor happened and I was in an artillery unit at that time as a supply officer.  So after a little bit of training in Hawaii, we got on board a boat and went to Leyte in the Philippines where we were getting ready to invade Japan. By that time we were fully cognizant of the fact that Japan was going to be a tough job.  Fortunately Harry Truman authorized dropping the atomic bomb and the War was over before I had to do any actual combat.

Then I was transferred into another unit and set to Sapporo in Hokkaido as part of the first occupation troops.  That was an interesting session for a few months and then when I finally was discharged I was sent back to San Antonio where I was turned loose and my wife had been teaching schools.  She was in Gonzales at the time so I went there to be with her and for lack of something better to do I walked into the Gonzales Inquirer to see if they had any work and they did.  I became their circulation manager for a few weeks and kept looking for something to buy.  We found the Hondo Anvil Herald and bought that, took over June the 1st of 1946.

The Hondo Anvil Herald was a paper that had been established in Castroville in 1886.  The paper was moved to Hondo because the county seat had been transferred from Castroville to Hondo and it made the move about 1900.  The owner was Fletcher Davis from about 1900 until 1946.  He had owned the paper all that time.  In those days it was usually an eight-page weekly and he was using what they called Ready Print at the time.  So there would be four pages printed in Chicago or somewhere and shipped down there with feature stories and what you might call time-copy that had no time value.  One side of the big page was about 32 x 48 and the newspaper would set up and print four pages on the other side.  And then it was folded and made into an eight page weekly.

That was not enough to suit us so we began to add other pages and soon developed up to 12 and then 16 and after a year or so with the Ready Print, we dropped that and went to a complete home print publication.  We added a few country correspondents and tried to expand the paper and bought another weekly in the same county which was called the Lacoste Ledger after we’d been there for about two or three years.  And later on as we progressed we bought a newspaper in Crystal City and then one in Carrizo Springs and Sabinal.  By the time, I think it was about 1957, we had added another one in Seguin.  So we had a group called Associated Texas Newspapers – because we had great ambition at the time we thought we’d just buy every paper in the State, you know.  We had a lot of people helping us and we had grown rather rapidly but we soon found that it was pretty difficult to get the type of management help that we needed to keep expanding.  So along about 1960 or so we began selling off.  So we kept several papers for a long time.  We were with the Seguin Enterprise; we operated that with the help of a very good friend and co-publisher named Othur Grissom.  We operated that one for 25 years before we sold it.  And by the time of 1962 I became interested in politics, met John Connally at Corpus Christi where we were both on the program to talk to the State electric co-op group and he was about to announce for his race for Governor.  He was Secretary of the Navy at that time.  And after we had met in Corpus Christi he asked me if I would help in his campaign.  So I moved to the Driskill Hotel for about six weeks, spent about four or five days a week up here, left the paper in Jerry’s hands and of course our other weeklies were being published by local publishers so we didn’t have any real problems with that.  I say, but Jerry might have a different thought.

Then after the campaign was over and Connally was elected, I went back to Hondo and settled in as publisher there and the operation of our group.  I thought no more about it but Connally asked me to serve on the Texas Tourist Development Board which he thought was to publicize Texas and that was because they had amended the Constitution to allow Texas to publicize its qualities and to seek outside travelers.  Since the Civil War days it had been illegal for Texas to try to attract other people into the State.  We’d had all we needed of carpetbaggers so we decided, or Connally and the Legislature at that time, decided we should organize a publicity campaign to develop tourism.  So the Texas Development Board was established and we began to buy advertising nationwide and that was handled by a manager of course.  It was very small at the time but I remember among others we had Pop Mabry who was the PR man for Humble Oil and Jim Gaines who was the manager of WOAI and John McCarty who was the Frito-Lay publicity man and one other if I remember was Kern Tipps who used to do the broadcast for football.  He was part of the Wilkinson, Schiwetz and Tipps Advertising Agency.  Anyway, we met once a month and talked about how to publicize Texas and we found out that most people outside of Texas thought it was nothing but a big desert with cows and we had to bring out the fact that we did have forests and trees and beaches.  But that was just a meeting of once a month for a couple of years and didn’t take up much time.  I was just, felt honored to be on it, but it was fun.

Then one Sunday afternoon I was going through the mail at Hondo and the phone rang and it was Connally on the phone and he wanted me to take an appointment as a member of the Texas Water Commission.  Well I didn’t know much about it but finding out it had a fairly good salary and was fulltime, we had a quick discussion and decided I would take it.  So I came up to Austin Monday and accepted the position.  It was a three-man group that handled water quality and the permits for building dams around the State.  Sort of like the judicial job.  People would come and seek permission to build a dam and we’d hear the testimony and for and against and decide whether they could go ahead.  That was very interesting and it was fulltime so we had to move to Austin.

We bought a house in Austin and moved the family when school was out in 1965 and we had to make arrangements to operate all of our newspapers by remote control.  We had managers or publishers in each town so it wasn’t too difficult.  Probably were pretty sloppy in the way we ran it.  I’m sure we could have done better if we’d been there on deck but this Austin business was quite a bit of fun too.  And we have been in Austin ever since although we maintained the ownership of the newspaper.

When our youngest son Jeff graduated from UT in ’83, he went back to Austin, I mean back to Hondo and operated our radio station which we had put on the air in 1969 and then he did that for a few months and decided he liked newspapering better even though his major at UT was Radio, TV and Film.  He became publisher of the newspaper and has done that ever since.

That fairly well outlines where we’ve been with the newspapers but we still own the paper but Jeff runs it and has full control.  But we are the owners just for tax purposes we’ve kept ownership and we’ll continue to do so far as I know as long as we live.

We had fairly good luck with our newspaper.  We were able to improve it and increase the circulation, the quality, and we went and became involved in the newspaper organization such as the South Texas Press Association and the Texas Press Association.  We joined those very early and did go through most of the chairs in both of those organizations.  Also we were involved in West Texas Press Association and the Gulf Coast Press Association just because we liked to go and meet with other publishers.  That’s been an interesting way to get some vacation time without being away from the place too long.

CASH:  Can you talk a little bit about owning papers and running them, as you said earlier, by remote control, some of the challenges in operating that way and what kind of autonomy your local publishers had?

BERGER: I tried to give the local publisher autonomy as far as his choice of news or if he wanted to get involved in politics, who he would support.  I remember one time in the South Texas area we had four newspapers, Sabinal, Carrizo Springs, Crystal City, and Hondo and there were several candidates for State Representative.  It so happened that each of the four papers supported a different candidate.  Some people thought I was crazy for not picking one, but I just let the local publisher decide who he wanted.  And we tried to run them as loosely as possible, but I’m not sure that was the right way to do it but that’s what we did.

CASH: And what about the challenges of getting involved in local politics and running a community newspaper and trying to sell advertising and satisfy those advertisers?

BERGER: We tried not to get too involved in local politics the city or county level.  We tried to do the best job possible for our local advertisers and we would draw up spec ads which for those that aren’t familiar with it that means what we would suggest in the form of advertisement.  Usually we’d make it on a full-page basis and take it around and talk to the merchant and if he wound up buying a two column by four inch ad we were happy although we’d like to sell a bigger one.  That was one way we tried to do it although I must admit we didn’t always succeed.  But most of the papers were able to at least break even or make a little bit of money.  My best solution to the problem were when we finally sold them.  We usually sold them for more than we paid for them and I guess that was probably due to inflation more than my good management, but we did.

One time we had a problem with the fact that in Hondo the mayor was also a car dealer and the city bought cars and they tended to buy them from the dealer and we carried a story about it which as it develops was probably illegal.  I think the fact is that they should have put it out for bids and we carried the story and the dealer got pretty unhappy with us but we ran the story and we recommended it.  That was one item that I can remember, although that sort of thing didn’t happen very often.  It may have happened and we didn’t know about it too.

CASH: What have you done in journalism that is right up there, the hallmark of your accomplishment?  What would you single out if you could think of one thing?

BERGER: We have given an opportunity to many young people who went on to greater things after working with us.  I was Chairman of the Intern Committee the first time TPA had one back about the 1950s as I recall it.  I remember one of our first persons who came to work with us was a young man named Pat Galvin.  He joined our staff inn 1946 right after we came to Hondo and he worked for me for several months and maybe a year or two, he put out an outstanding news coverage and the San Antonio Light hired him.  We were glad to see him get a better job.  Of course we couldn’t pay very much.  He went on from there to the Light and then the Light having been a Hearst newspaper he wound up being transferred to Chicago to the Hearst paper in Chicago where he was on the City Desk for several years.  Later he began to do freelance writing and went into the magazine business and he wound up as publisher and editor of five trade magazines, like “Builders.”

We had several people who worked for us for a short time and later went on to greater things.  We had a young Aggie who was our advertising director and he worked for me for about a year and then went on and he became the advertising director of the Armstrong Cork Company which was the company that made Armstrong linoleum and it was a pretty big-time job.

Another was a girl, Peggy Simpson came to us as her first job out of Texas Women’s University, I think that was the name at the time, maybe they’ve changed, I’ve forgotten.  Anyway, her first job was with us in Hondo and she did a pretty good job writing news and when we had a murder mystery there that ran on for several weeks I gave her the task of filling in the Associated Press.  I was the prime fascia Associated Press correspondent if anything big enough happened in Hondo.  So I let her call in the stories about this on-going murder case and after she had done that for about 12 or 13 weeks, they Associated Press, dern their hide, hired her.  So she left us and went on to their employment and was in the Austin Bureau and later in the Dallas office and finally went on to Washington where she covered Congress and her, I guess perhaps one of her greatest accomplishments is that she was elected president of the Women’s Press Club, whatever it was called in Washington at the time.  It’s since been absorbed by the National Press Club, but at that time they had a men’s press club and a woman’s press club.  And she’s gone around the world on some of her stories.  She’s been a foreign correspondent.  I remember picking up listening on a radio one time and heard her voice coming out of Warsaw, Poland.  But we’ve kept up her friendship.  We send her the paper and she still reads our paper and now lives in Washington.  She may be retired too by this time.  Everybody seems to get old in this business.

CASH: You mentioned your association with different news trade organizations.  Could you tell us a little bit about some of the work that you did and initiatives within the Texas Press Association?

BERGER: Well, I enjoyed being at the Texas Press Conventions and as things go I’d be put on various committees.  I was involved in talking about advertising.  I was on several programs.  I remember addressing the National Newspaper Association which at that time was called the National Editorial Association.  I spoke to two of their conventions on small-town advertising.  And then we would get involved with Texas Press trying to help promote the sale of advertising for all the papers in the State.  And of course that was primarily handled by our manager.  At that time it was Vern Sanford.  And we, I just encouraged as much as I could.  I was also elected as a member of the board of the National Editorial Association subsidiary called the—

CASH: National Newspaper?

BERGER: Well, no.  The National Advertising sales arm of the National Editorial Association.  I was a member of their board for several years and we would meet in various places.  I remember we would have meetings in San Francisco or Las Vegas or New York, Chicago.  But our efforts were to sell national advertising for all the newspapers and I was on their board for several years.  And it was interesting.  I don’t know whether I gave them any help or not but anyway, I was part of it.  The Texas Press, I was elected to various positions there and wound up as the president in 1964 I believe it was.  And I had been president of the South Texas Press in 1954.  By curious happenstance my youngest son Jeff was elected president of the South Texas Press exactly 40 years from the date that I served.

CASH: Let’s talk about today and the state of journalism today.  Do you read paper?  Do you look at them on the Internet?

BERGER: I do both.  I read newspapers.  I read the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily on weekends, and the Austin-American and those are the dailies that I read and then I also look at the Internet to see what I can find and there’s a lot of stuff out there but I don’t read it all.  I read perhaps too much of it.  My wife thinks I spend too much time in front of that screen, but it’s fascinating.  There is a lot of talk about the decline of newspapers and I think a lot of that is the big dailies have seemed to be losing their grip.  I think in some ways they are not covering the world news as well as they used to.  Of course I’m sure a lot of that is due to financial reasons.  But I can remember when the Dallas News had foreign correspondents, but they also had coverage of the entire state.  They sent a paper to every newspaper in the State as a trade-out they’d run a little ad for the Dallas News country circulation in all the papers in the State.  And they gave that up a long time ago when the postage rates got so high and apparently the cost of printing and mailing was more than it was worth and they apparently have given up their thoughts of trying to influence statewide news coverage.  And in fact several papers did that; Houston did it and even San Angelo tried to cover the West Texas area, but they’ve all cut back due to the high cost of delivery of the papers and they’ve just shrunk down.  They are losing their total income.  Most of them are much less profitable than they were.  But I’ve found that most of the good country weeklies are still doing as well as ever and some keep improving a little bit.  Ours has had a light gain in circulation almost every year since we’ve been there.  When we bought it it had about 1800 circulation and now of course the county is a little bigger, but it’s now up to 5500 and our volume has gone from $9000 a year gross when we bought it to well over half a million now and it’s hard to make a profit even though you handle lots of money, but we have managed to stay afloat.

CASH: Why do you think the weeklies and the small dailies are prospering while their metro daily counterparts are shrinking?

BERGER: The people like to read about their friends and neighbors and the small papers specialize in covering the news of the school, the city, and the accidents and births and deaths and obituaries.  We’ve never charged for an obituary in our paper unless somebody wants to run a half a page tribute.  But we don’t charge for weddings except for a small charge for a picture and we have a lot of them as a result.  And I think people like to do, read those things.  No telling how many scrapbooks are filled with our clippings from our publications.  This is true of all the weeklies.

CASH: What about the proliferation of online news?  How is that affecting the way that weekly newspapers are doing business?

BERGER: We have been forced into joining the webs.  We put out a weekly summary after the paper comes out.  Usually it’s on the web by Friday after the paper’s out Thursday morning but all we cover is the highlights.  We put down an abbreviated obituary list and the top two or three stories and the top few sports stories and we have that on the web and we’ve found it to be rather interesting.  We’ve had people write us in on the internet, send us emails from Afghanistan or Iraq before our local people have gotten the paper out of the post office.  It’s amazing to me that this can happen.  In my case I’d write a column each week.  I’d write it on my computer in Austin, send it to Hondo in computerized form, it’s converted into typography that fits the newspaper, goes directly to our editorial page and they don’t even have to touch it down there except to set a headline.  I can’t understand it but that’s the way it works.

Then we have a printing plant in Hondo which we have in conjunction with our friends in Pleasanton and Uvalde and we print about 17 weeklies there and we receive many of these papers over the telephone.  They send us their made-up pages in typography that somehow is transmitted over the wires.  I don’t know how but it works.

CASH: You don’t have direct contact with the young reporters, young journalists coming out these days, but what are you hearing from colleagues who do and from your publishers and your son about what these youngsters know and maybe what they don’t know.  What do they need to know that they aren’t getting?

BERGER: I think what they need to know is that there’s no better place to get an understanding of the news business than the small rural weeklies.  They can work there for a year or two and pick up experience in every phase of writing while if they’d gone directly to a daily they might get assigned to the Obits or to the City Hall and do nothing but that day after day and they don’t really get exposed to everything else.  I think it’s valuable for them but we haven’t had much interest in it and probably because we simply can’t afford to pay as much as we would like.  The average, I get the impression that the average journalism graduate would like to go to the New York Times and immediately have a by-line.  It’s not going to work that way.  Or they’d like to go on network television and see their face nationwide.  It’s amazing how many have that ambition but how few are able to do it.

CASH: What about the state of journalism out there?  Is there anything that worries you about coverage or encourages you about coverage?

BERGER: The coverage varies a great deal.  It all depends on the tenacity and the curiosity of the reporter and the greatest value, the greatest attribute I would say is curiosity.  If a person is curious about what happened and why he might make a reporter, but too many people just let it drift by and they don’t really— They’re not curious about why things happen.

CASH: Do you have a concern about the drive for corporate profits?  We hear so much about newspaper companies being more concerned with the bottom line than with the by-line and what the content is.

BERGER: Yes I am concerned about that.  I have also been a newspaper broker for about 30 years.  I’ve done appraisals for other people and helped people buy and sell papers and I’ve noticed that many of the good papers have been snapped up by chains, large and small.  And when I see the results most of the chains do their best to get out a reasonably good paper.  They have to in order to sell advertising.  But a lot of them seem to be aimed at what they can make out of it and the publishers and a lot of them are, of course, looking for a job that makes them a good living.  But I prefer, or at least I think I do, prefer the local ownership so far as possible.  I say this with the knowledge that I had a chain of my own at one time.  We had about nine or 10 papers but we didn’t try to run it as some chains do now.  But there is a danger in trying to worry about nothing but profit.  Maybe that’s why I don’t have 10 papers any more.

CASH: Your papers always focused on community service?

BERGER: We tried to, yes.  In fact several of them won the, in newspaper competition, won community service awards.  We won one in Hondo early on for our editorial campaign for better telephone service.  We won a National Editorial Community Service Award that we received in Providence, Rhode Island, at a convention one time. Real proud of that.  We got to receive it from the hands of the president of AT&T.  Hondo at that time had a telephone service like so many small towns where you called the operator and she plugged you in and I expect that had its values too, you could always ring the operator and say where is Granddad, but we needed to grow and so we now have— Shortly after that we began to get dial service and connected to the world.

CASH: Well Bill if you could give some words of wisdom, advice, to somebody seeking a career in journalism, what would you tell them today?

BERGER:         Well I don’t know exactly where to start there.  I had the advantage of growing up with every phase of it.  I, as a child I was a carrier and a correspondent and sold advertising and took pictures and had to develop them; did the whole thing and it just sorta grew on me.  So I don’t know whether—  I guess the way you do it if you have that ambition is to hang around the paper.  Most publishers or editors will, are encouraged by kids who show an ambition, wanting to help, I think.  Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s the way I got all my start.  I remember that when I was working for the local paper I thought the publisher was over the hill.  He was 35.

CASH: [Laughter.]  That was pretty old.

BERGER:         Yeah, pretty old.

– Transcribed by Shannon Barclay Morris

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