CHAPEL HILL -- Swirls of speculation and unprecedented journalistic frenzy -- stirred by the recent Lebronathon -- came to a head this week with the growing recognition that a local iconic superstar could bolt on The Chapel Hill Herald, like James did the Cleveland Cavaliers, at a moment's notice.
Gary D. Gaddy's free agency, they came to realize, had created an opportunity for him to re-sculpt the local media landscape for a generation, a prospect which frightened The Chapel Hill Herald's management almost as much as it excited its competitors and exhilarated the remaining reading public.
Rumors were rife that Gaddy, The Chapel Hill Herald's leading regular Friday columnist, was being actively courted by an array of media outlets, including The Carrboro Citizen, Carrboro Free Press, The Chapel Hill News, The Daily Tar Heel, The News of Orange County, Community Sports News, Chapel Hill (magazine), WCHL-AM, WCOM-LP, WUNC- FM, WUNC-TV, Southern Neighbor and The Peoples Channel.
Insiders in Gaddy's camp quickly quashed speculation that Gaddy might move to Carolina Woman, which includes Orange County in its distribution area.
Despite initial indications Gaddy was set on leaving for greener (in dollar value) pastures, sources close to people close to lower middle management in the Paxton Media Group (of Paducah, Kentucky) say that The Chapel Hill Herald continued to work overtime with Gaddy's coterie of lawyer and agent to keep him on their non-payroll.
"My team talked to other teams about building a new team, but the Herald people just teamed up on me," said Gaddy.
"My Dan (CH Herald editor Dan Way) has been a lot smarter than their Dan (Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert) in dealing with prospect of a superstar leaving for a place with more championship mojo," said Gaddy in a news release leaked to the press by Gaddy's media handlers.
"I don't want to compare myself to LeBron James -- who knows if he can even write 141 characters in a row on single topic? -- but, like BronBron, Gary Gaddy has to do what will make Gary Gaddy happy," said Gary Gaddy via a post on GaryGaddy.com.
"That's not selfish. If Gary Gaddy is not happy, nobody in his entourage is going to be happy," said Gaddy.
Gaddy explained The Decision to stay at The Chapel Hill Herald this way: "I have a great supporting cast at the Herald. (Dan) Way doesn't screw with my stuff. (Bob) Ashley only feels compelled to respond every now and then to my columns. And (Nancy) Wykle fixes the Herald website instantly whenever I ask. It's like staying at a really nice Motel Six. They always leave the light on," said Gaddy.
"When (Neil) Offen (formerly the titular head of the Chapel Hill Herald) got bumped to Durham, I considered a move then. But I decided to give the new guy a try. Both of them (Offen and Way) are knowledgeable and experienced journalists, so neither of them ever had a clue what to do with my stuff. But they’re both just smart enough to just leave well enough alone,” said Gaddy.
"They don't even mess with my spilling and grammer. In fact, after 'correcting' some of my non-errors into errors (Yes, it is the Geneva Conventions, with an 's' on the end, guys), they even stopped 'fixing' my tpyos. Every writer wants to work at a place like this. Talk about fredom of speach, I got it,” said Gaddy.
It is reported by people close to people close to WCHL’s Ron Stutts, that despite Gaddy's broadcast-quality voice, Gaddy had quickly eliminated local market radio and TV from any serious consideration.
"Anybody who knows me, knows I am only here on earth for one reason: to win. I keep my eyes on the Prize. It's all about Pulitizers for me. No disrespect to the Emmy, but 'Frasier' won 37 of the things," Gaddy said in an exclusive interview with GaryGaddy.com.
"And radio? Nobody even knows what their awards are called. How lame is that? Who stays up late listening to the Marconi's?” Gaddy asked.
The next stage of The Decision is in preparation: a 16-page full-color supplement to The Chapel Hill Herald, entitled “The Decision,” which will be a pictorial history of Gary Gaddy's illustrious career, thus far, with The Chapel Hill Herald. The Decision will feature hand-selected advertisements from Gaddy’s favorite area eateries, including Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café in the Courtyard on West Franklin, Squid’s on Fordham Boulevard, Saratoga Grill on Churton Street in historic Hillsborough and Carrburrito’s in Carrboro on Rosemary near the intersection with Main.
Gary D. Gaddy remains, decidedly,The Chapel Hill Herald's leading regular Friday columnist.
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday July 16, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy