Bill and Leslie King have been married for more than forty years, and each has held a career in media for just as long. They both still fondly remember their time at Grady College—from meeting at the Red & Black to getting married at the Taylor Grady House.
Bill recently retired from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after 42 1/2 years on the paper’s staff, which made him the senior newsroom employee. He joined the Constitution straight out of Grady in July 1974, and served, among other jobs, as pop music critic, TV Week editor, Journal copy desk chief, Features Department slot editor and as a story editor in both news and features. In addition, he’s also written the Junkyard Blawg, a UGA fan blog, for ajc.com and now Dawgnation.com, since August 2005. He will continue doing the blog in retirement. Leslie (ABJ ’75) works in the communications department at Emory University in Atlanta. Together they publish Beatlefan magazine, now in its 39th year.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the couple reminisced about their Grady days.
Grady College: You mentioned meeting at the Red & Black—can you give a little more background on how you met?
Bill: We first met when Leslie called me up at the start of spring quarter(pre-semester system) in 1973 to ask if I’d like a story assignment from the Red & Black. I had put my name in to do stories for the R&B and she was one of the associate news editors at the time. Over the next school year, that led to me becoming R&B city editor, news editor and then executive editor (which is what the managing editor was called in those days). Leslie and I became friends, but didn’t start to date until the fall of 1974. By that time, I had graduated and was working for The Atlanta Constitution. Leslie became editor of the R&B for winter quarter 1975 and then graduated, eventually joining the Constitution in summer of 1975. We married in November 1975.
GC: What were some of the activities you were involved in as students? Were you taught by some of the same faculty members?
Leslie: I am a Tri Delt. We spent most of the time studying or working at the Red and Black. Working at the Red and Black also gave us a close-up view of student government. Bill and I were both in the newspaper sequence of Grady, so we did have some of the same professors, though we never shared a class. Two professors that we both had were Wally Eberhard and Bev Bethune.
Bill: I grew up in Athens and have been an ardent Georgia Bulldogs fan all my life, so attending football and basketball games was one of my main activities at UGA. The first three years I was in college, I spent my summers working in political campaigns (I quit when I finally got a winner!), and then the summer of 1973 I worked at the Institute of Government, editing their weekly newsletter. Other than Sigma Delta Chi, the R&B was really the only student organization I was a member of. Another couple of my favorite Grady faculty members at the time (though Leslie didn’t have them) were Al Hester and Ernie Hynds.
GC: Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Grady (either an individual memory or a memory you shared together)?
Leslie: Being in the school and working on the Red and Black were anchors for me and gave me a place within a big university.
Bill: I think my favorite memory from my time at “the J School” as we used to call it was “streak week” in March of 1974, when UGA students set a national record for having the most people running naked through campus. The R&B was covering that at the same time we were covering protests by black students over a controversial speaker who was scheduled on campus. Reporters from the Atlanta papers and the wire services used the R&B office (in the basement of Grady at that time) as their base for covering those events. It was a crazy and exciting week and reinforced my decision to make my career in newspapers.
GC: Both of you have had lifelong careers in media, which is exciting. How do you feel Grady/UGA helped prepare you for those career successes?
Leslie: Making connections through the school, the Red and Black, both of contemporary students and alumni.
Bill: I agree that the networking aspect of attending Grady was very important. I got my job at the Constitution because a fellow former R&B staffer who was working there called me up and told me there was an opening coming and that I should call Jim Minter (the managing editor at the time) and apply. And, when I interviewed with Minter for the job, he decided to hire me, despite my not having much daily newspaper experience, because he was impressed by my scholastic record at UGA (making Phi Beta Kappa). So that definitely helped! Also, the professors at Grady instilled in me a respect for facts and fairness and the need to maintain high journalistic standards, even when it’s not convenient.
GC: Anything else that you’d like to add?
Bill: My other favorite part of my time at Grady and the R&B was the people. The student newspaper staff was a very tight-knit group, socializing as well as working together, and we used to joke that we were like a fraternity and sorority combined; we called ourselves “Rho Nu Beta.” Leslie and I have stayed in touch with quite a few of those folks over the years and still get together with some of them for lunch or dinner.
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February 13, 2017 Editor:
Stephanie Moreno, firstname.lastname@example.org