The California State University, Bakersfield, student Newspaper The Runner turns 40 this year. Editors have come and gone but the memories they have will last a lifetime.
The Runners 40th anniversary celebration is honoring those who have worked hard to produce the CSUB newspaper since 1975.
Our first Editor in Chief was Floy Blair, first Features Editor was Jon Bashor, first Sports Editor was Richard Armstrong, first News Editor was Judy Ann Rose, first series Editor was Carole Eiden, first Sales Ad Rep was Dave Rodgers, first columnist was Russell Huddleston and The Runner’s first photographers were D.J. Whipple and Linda Baird. These Editor along with all the staff members made the first publication of The Runner possible in 1975.
Jon Bashor, one of the founding staff members and Features Editor of The Runner, tells his story of being one of the first Runner staff members in 1975.
“I was there from the very start and we had a feeling we could do anything. Our office was in the Faculty Towers building and we had a small refrigerator always stocked with beer. All of the type was set by a word processing team and we took the camera-ready flats out to a printing company in Lamont, where the paper was printed,” he said.
He speaks of his start to the newspaper and mentions his reason for join the runner was because of his crush, Flo Blair. Blair, the first editor-in-chief of The Runner, was an English major and was thought to be the best person to edit the articles.
“The paper was started by Marla Lyashere and she asked our English class if anyone wanted to work on the paper. My main motivation for getting involved was wanting to get to know the woman who was chosen as the editor,” Bashor said, “Collectively we had more enthusiasm than experience.”
As most journalists would feel the same, he felt that through the newspaper he and the other Runner staff could make a difference with their work.
“Heaven knows we didn’t make much money. I think that attitude was similar to the one we had when we launched The Runner. We would occasionally get calls from the school administrator asking why we ran this story or that one. We thought the students should know what was going on,” he said.
Letting students know what is going on at school is the essential purpose of most student journalists who work on the newspaper.
“Now, 40 years later, I’m still earning my living with my writing, editing and communications skills that I began to developed at California State College, Bakersfield,” he said.
Denise (Papasergia) Cutbirth, an entertainment editor for The Runner in 1983 to 1984, started her college career as a geology major, but ended up loving communications.
“I took a class in public relations with Marla Iyashere and fell in love with communications. It wasn’t long after that I was working with Judy Clausen at the college news bureau, and it naturally followed that I would write for the school paper,” she said.
“This was during the time before computers and all of the work producing a paper was done by hand,” she said.
During her senior year of college she was hired as an editor of the Tehachapi News, and after college she went on to become an editor of The Wasco News. Cutbirth was then hired at The Bakersfield Californian to be a features writer. She wrote a social column called “Out and About”.
“I owe my entire career to my education at CSUB (CSB when I attended),” Cutbirth said.
Lisa Baldridge, who’s Bachelors of Arts degree is in English and minor is in Communication, was editor-in-chief and then co-editor in the 1989 academic year.
After college Baldridge went into marketing and eventually ending up at The Bakersfield Californian.
“I held a couple of marketing department positions with them before becoming publisher of one of their affiliates, Valley Direct, which published the Tehachapi News. I was a publisher there for five years.The experience I gained working on The Runner enabled me to better manage the editorial department at the News and was helpful when I had to occasionally fill in as editor or reporter. Learning how to write and edit is a skill that has been of benefit to me at every job I’ve had, even my current one,” Baldridge said.
One of Baldridge’s fondest memory of working on The Runner was how much fun they had. “There were a lot of late nights scrambling to get the paper laid out and to the printer, but we all pulled together to get it done. It was a great place to learn how to work in a team.”
Ed Nieto, a co-editor with Baldridge, still keeps in contact with her and other Runner editors and staff from the academic school year of 1988 to 1989.
Nieto was a Communications major with an emphasis in print; he graduated in 1992. He wrote and edited for The Runner as well as interned for The Bakersfield Californian and later KGET-TV NBC affiliate in Bakersfield.
“During my internship at KGET, the TV news bug bit me hard to my surprise since I had always planned on a career as a newspaper journalist. Soon, I decided that I wanted to become a television newscast producer, which I actually started doing part-time while I was still in school,” he said.
In 1996 he accepted a job offer from KCRA, the NBC affiliate in Sacramento and worked as a news producer till 2015. He then when on to accept a government job. He also created a weekly news program called “The Real Deal”.
“Of all my career accomplishments, I am most proud that the journalistic skills I first began honing at the Runner,” he said.
His flourishing 23-year-long career in the media industry is directly related to the work he did for The Runner.
“I am eternally grateful to CSUB, and my Runner Advisor and friend Judith Pratt. Serving as co-editor of The Runner with my friend Lisa Baldridge gave me great confidence in my abilities to work as a journalist and also serve as a newsroom leader,” he said.
Nieto’s fondest memory at the runner is staying up all night one night in the layout room sometime in late in 1988.
They were redesigning the newspaper from top to bottom, which he later was proud that that design became the template and was used for years to come after that.
Jennifer Lynn Wood was an editor in 1989 and Runner staff member from 1988 to 1989.
After college Wood “worked in a print shop for six years in the composition department as a graphic designer, type setter and took the newspapers owned by the company from paste up to pagination.”
“I loved this job! I was working with newspapers and being creative,” said Jennifer Wood.
Her next position was selling advertisements for an online site. Later she worked for another online business, where she created a website for a company.
“As of November, 2014 I am semi-retired and spending my days working on a book, reading, painting, gardening… doing all the things I never seemed to have time for before. My hope is to find a very part-time job doing something in line with my hobbies,” she said.
Wood and Baldridge also both worked at The Californian.
Her fondest memories where being with the other students.
“There are so many it’s hard to pick any one. The other students were amazing and it was an awesome experience to be able to spend so much time with other people of like mind. I really loved working with Judith,” Wood said.
One thing she’d liked to mention is the thought that writing is becoming a lost art.
“That frightens me. I believe the pen is mightier than the sword and without it we are unarmed for the future,” she said.
Wood provided great advice for people today.
“If I had to leave one word of advice for the youth of today it was be – Write! Write, write and write some more.”
A year later Charley Chiang joined The Runner as a sports editor in the fall of 1990 and spring of 1991.
“My experience on The Runner staff helped me land my second job at Kern Community College District where I’m still employed after 18 years,” he said.
“The writing and layout experience I gained while working on The Runner helped me land a job as a technical writer.”
Chiang’s fondest memories are going to Mass. to follow the men’s basketball team in 1991 for the Elite Eight Tournament as well as meeting his now wife, Amber, during that time.
“My most memorable memory was when – on deadline – I needed to edit a feature about a network television comedy called ‘Friends.’ I’d never seen the show, but figured I could spell well enough. The writer kept using ‘Central Perk’ throughout the article, and I couldn’t believe the writer didn’t know the place in New York was Central Park, and I changed all the instances. If you’ve seen the show, you know how wrong I was. It went to print with my brilliant edits,” Amber jokes. Amber Chiang was on The Runner from 1992 to 1996.
Bob Christie was the Managing Editor and Culture Editor for The Runner in his time on the newspaper from 1993 to 1995. Steven Mayer, who was a reporter and co-managing editor, worked with Christie in 1994 and 1995 and at the Californian…
He graduated in 1995 and began an internship.
Christie has been in the journalism profession ever since and is now working in Arizona.
“I had taken a couple newspaper classes in junior college in my late teens and liked it a lot. But when I joined the Runner it was immediately clear to me I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he said.
Mayer had become a correspondent for The Bakersfield Californian after college. In 1997 they hired him as a staff writer and have been there ever since.
“The first day in the cramped little newsroom was interesting. There were so many students, the editors said about half of us would not be in the first issue of the paper. I volunteered to wait a week. But when I walked out onto the quad, I saw a huge line of people snaking, it seemed, halfway across campus.
“People had been waiting in the financial aid line for up to three hours. I went back to the newsroom, told somebody to grab a camera, and began interviewing students and eventually financial aid administrators. The story hit the front page, and it actually forced administrators to address the problem.
“That was it. I was pretty much hooked on journalism after the first day,” Mayer said.
Twenty years later, Steven Gaede was a staff member and then the Sports Editor from 2011 to 2013.
His experience writing for The Runner has set him up for a rewarding career in the journalism field.
“Through my experience with The Runner I gained an internship with the Condors, which allowed me to utilize the skills I learned on the paper. And after two fulfilling seasons with the team, I was able to land my current job at Providence Consulting.”
Gaede met a lot of people on The Runner and enjoyed his time there.
“Working on The Runner was awesome! My fondest memory on The Runner was when I covered Fight For Wrestling 3 back in 2011,” he said.
Editors throughout the years have made the newspaper possible. Without their hard work and dedication, The Runner wouldn’t be what it is today.