Junious Smith III: It's Really Been A Year Already? Whoa
Confession time: I never liked the picture I took for Neuse News.
To be honest, I got caught up in work and forgot to get a haircut on Picture Day and do laundry to at least have better-matching apparel. The sheepish smile could’ve also went and even though it’s become my trademark, the hat should’ve been tossed as well. My picture (not the work of Brandon Potter, just my reflection of self) looks how some people probably thought this organization would look — not up to par.
One year later, this is the furthest from the case as Neuse News has turned into one of the top places to get local content in Eastern North Carolina and my picture has been plastered on hundreds of articles. I’ll never forget the day B.J. Murphy approached me about the concept of hyper-local web-based news — April 12, 2018. I was at Grainger Stadium trying to cover the Wood Ducks’ first home game of the season for my fledgling entity at the time, The Flourish Post, and B.J. was there with his daughters enjoying baseball. We conversed about the idea of Neuse News and while I agreed in principle to join the crew, nothing prepared me for what has transpired over the past year.
It has been mind-blowing to be a part of the meteoric rise of Neuse News, and it’s all because of the trust of the community. You believe in the writers, the content and the process, which has been a blessing throughout. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard “hey, aren’t you with Neuse News” or “I like what you guys are doing, keep it up.”
It certainly hasn’t been a road without potholes. I’m not a big fan of doing videos or talking on camera, something stressed in this organization. My government and general assignment stories haven’t been the best and it can be rough handling some of the non-sports workload. One of the toughest times happened in September with the Hurricane Florence coverage, especially working in Jones County. My best friend is from Trenton and while it was helpful as far as growing the business and telling a story most wouldn’t attempt in Jones County, it was still heart-wrenching to say the least. There were some nights where I did cry for those who lost everything — this was never a job where I came in just to get paid, and it was tough doing those interviews, especially the ones on video.
The positives have outweighed the negatives though, especially having the chance to make history with this organization. Graham Hill and I were able to broadcast games and actually had a bit of a following with The Flourish Hill Podcast, another entity unfathomable in the past. One of my biggest stories in the early stages was an interview with the first Kinston-born player to reach the NBA, 1981 Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell (assisted by Bryan Hanks), and that came on the fly. Again, like most of what we’ve done at Neuse News.
Whether it was covering a playoff game, checking in on a practice, Election Night coverage (by the way, Takeema, I promise I’m coming to Sassy’s before August 15 for a Zumba class) and everything in between, this has been an amazing first year. There’s plenty to improve upon, but having this base is nothing short of phenomenal.
And when I get the chance, I want a redo on this picture. As soon as I get out of the barber’s chair.