In the late 1990s, I was a young, raw reporter in the television world looking for direction in the incredibly busy world of journalism.
More than anyone else, former Addy editor Wayne Gregson gave it to me. For that, I am eternally grateful.
I remember fronting up to my job interview, on a Friday afternoon, upstairs at the then Metropolitan Hotel, a place that would go on to become my classroom, and Wayne my teacher.
When I walked up the stairs and into an otherwise dingy room, I saw Wayne’s wife Linda – then the Addy’s political reporter, local MPs Ron Best and Steve Gibbons, night editor Rod Case, chief photographer Peter Hyett, chief of staff Ian Haberfield and a couple of executives from a local manufacturing company.
They were all busy hatching a front page yarn for the next Monday.
I was impressed. Very.
This was a window to a workplace and a team I knew I had to be part of.
We used to have a beer most days after work, and as Wayne would have it, he’d sometimes hunt down the next day’s lead story while we were at it.
I’d often front up to work the next day with a sore head and a beer stained coaster with four or five dot points on it.
More often than not, that coaster was the genesis for the day’s paper.
Life was different back then, and I’m glad it was.
No matter how tough the day, I loved every day of my time at the Addy, working with Wayne and the team he led.
I remember how happy Wayne was when we did a good paper, and I quickly learnt the difference, and the power that comes with a good front page, and the difference good journalism could make when we got it right.
And yes, I remember how angry he could get when we didn’t get it right.
But that was how I learned back then, and I learned so much.
I was a sponge for what Wayne had to say, and I learned more from my time working with him at the Addy than from anyone else.
Wayne managed to intertwine his twin passions for Bendigo and newspapers in a way that made a significant difference to many people’s lives and ultimately, to Bendigo
When he told a bunch of us of his illness late last year, he told us not to be sad; not to be sorry.
I deeply regret not having a final beer with Wayne to say thanks, goodbye or whatever, but I suspect he knew one of us would have ended up in tears if we did. The other one was terminally ill.
Today we farewell Wayne, who passed away last weekend, aged 64.
He will be deeply missed.
– Peter Kennedy