This is by and about my brother-in-law Joe Kovacs of WND.com. A fun read!
“What in the world – let alone where – is a Cave Junction, Oregon?”
This was among the first thoughts flashing through my head when Joseph Farah told me in the late 1990s that I’d have to move my life 3,500 miles away from my Florida home if I wished to work for WND, then known by its longer name of WorldNetDaily.
I rushed to a worn-out Atlas of the United States, and opened it to a page that seemed brand-new compared to all the others up and down the I-95 corridor from New England to Florida, where I had spent most of my life.
From my Eastern-boy view of things, too many of the Western states just seemed like giant rectangles, but I was finally able to locate the tiniest dot on the map in the southwestern corner of the Oregon rectangle.
Before making the cross-country and life-changing trip into real journalism in 1999, though, you might find it interesting to peek back at my previous 15 years in the news business prior to WND.
So let’s hit the rewind button and travel back to 1984.
Yes, there was more to life than “Miami Vice.”
It was the era of America’s last real president, the legendary Ronald Reagan.
I was working my first job in the so-called mainstream media, reporting for a newsradio station on Palm Beach, Fla. And when I say on Palm Beach, I mean ON the beach. The studio at the time was situated on oceanfront property, and sand often filled the parking lot.
It was in November of ’84 that a wicked storm blew a giant Venezuelan cargo ship called the Mercedes I out of the Atlantic Ocean and into the swimming pool of seaside resident Mollie Wilmot.
I was fortunate to be among the first people on the scene, and started snapping photos of the huge vessel. The boat was so massive, I simply could not fit the whole thing in a single frame.
The story became an international sensation, and I just had the feeling that I was in the business truly intended for me.
Despite being young and barely shaving, I received many other choice assignments, including covering Britain’s Prince Charles playing polo while his more-famous-than-he spouse, better known as Princess Diana, watched from a protected perch above the action.
I spent 10 years broadcasting news on the radio before making the jump to television, where I ran network affiliates and got to hang out with some of the biggest names in the industry, such as ABC News legend Peter Jennings.
But after 15 years in the so-called mainstream media, the news became somewhat repetitive to me. On any given day, certain stories were always covered, without exception. For instance, although it’s been many years since I’ve been running local TV news stations, I can virtually guarantee you that on July 4, 2012, you can turn on virtually any Florida television station and you’ll see the typical stories about the Coast Guard and other marine agencies on the hunt for drunk boaters, as well as some kind of report about how not to leave your hand full of bloody nubs where your fingers used to be before blowing them off with fireworks.
I also realized that many events my colleagues covered were not just an objective reporting of facts. There seemed to be an agenda behind many of the stories, not just in their selection, but in the way they were reported. I grew frustrated and perhaps a little jaded, and desperately wanted to cover real news, the important events of the nation and world, without any political agenda as an undercurrent.
Enter Joseph Farah, a man whose name I had never heard before.
I discovered his WorldNetDaily in early 1999, when it was still in its infancy, even before it was an actual company. I was astonished by how much major news one or two people could cover with a basic computer keyboard.
As I perused the news on WND, I was amazed at the sources from which many of the reports originated. There were papers that I’d never previously read, such as the London Telegraph, the Australian and the South China Morning Post. It was a far cry from the typical blather we’d so often say in TV or radio: “The New York Times is reporting yada, yada, yada.” It was as if there were no other source for my colleagues in the broadcast media.
Anyway, one day at the bottom of the website, there was a headline that read: “Come work for WorldNetDaily.” Once I clicked on the associated article, it said something to the effect of, “We want to turn this operation into the best news source in the world.”
That’s all I needed to hear. Or read. Whatever.
It was my chance to get out of the B.S. world of broadcast “news” and enter the real world of hard-hitting journalism. I immediately emailed my résumé, and the next thing I knew, I was on a cross-country flight for a job interview with Farah himself.
Now, I have to tell you, my personality is one that often tosses in jokes or sarcastic humor at almost every possible chance. But I didn’t want my jokingness to interfere with getting the job, so I convinced myself to be on my bestest behavior for the interview, and I acted much more seriously than I normally would. I wasn’t immediately hired, as WND was making the transition from a not-for-profit group to a for-profit company.
I didn’t find out until later that I was almost not hired because Farah thought I was “too serious” in my interview. It was about 6 months into my working for WND that I broke into my Jackie Gleason impersonation, quoting his famous catchphrase of “Homina, homina, homina.”
Farah then asked me if I liked “The Honeymooners” TV show.
When I said it was one of my favorite programs, he exclaimed, “If you had said that during your interview, I would have hired you on the spot!”
I was finally brought aboard in October of 1999 to be the guy who puts together the WND news pages and write catchy headlines. Moving from South Florida to the northwestern part of America was a big change. There was hardly anything in Josephine County, Ore., that resembled civilization as I knew it. It was like I somehow traveled through a time warp and ended back in the Old West. There was one lonely Burger King present in a town called Grants Pass, so I figured it had at least some connection to the 20th century, which was about to change into the 21st.
The original WND “headquarters” – if you can call it that – was in an extremely remote location called Selma, Ore., adjacent to Cave Junction. The office consisted of a glorified barn situated on Tall Timber Ranch.
While the ranch provided a scenic vista, the working conditions on the inside provided less-than-smooth sailing for the first year.
Scenic view from WND's original office in Selma, Ore. (photo: Joe Kovacs)
There was no high-speed Internet available when we first started. We were at the mercy of dial-up service, and unfortunately, the service provider would often just drop dead, especially in the evening hours when we were busiest preparing the freshest edition of WND. Remember, we were basically in Nowheresville, USA.
Also, my email did not work properly for the first month, and Farah kept asking me how we were supposed to run a news operation without email.
There were a few rooms with showers in the building, but after bathing in the putrid, rust-colored “water” being vomited from the shower head, I decided never to wash there again.
One day, we suffered a total power failure that lasted all day, and I was forced to leave the office just to be able to make sure WND got posted.
Having said all that, I was ecstatic to be there. It didn’t matter that we were physically situated in another dimension.
I had finally found a news agency that cared about reporting the news. I mean the real news. The news that matters. Not the daily body count of who shot whom and what’s the weather guess. I was working with some of the finest journalists alive, and everyone there knew (and still knows) that we indeed have a team gifted and blessed with extraordinary talent.
I think readers both old and new instantly recognize they get more real journalism from WND than any other news source on the planet, whether it was from the middle of nowhere, or now headquartered in new offices in the nation’s capital.
It was, and still is, all about finding and reporting the most important, hard-hitting, relevant and interesting information on any given day. Because we don’t follow the drumbeat of the mainstream media, we’re free to focus on what’s important to real people, without the phony-baloney hype and agenda-driven reports that seem so ubiquitous in today’s news industry.
Since the start of the brand-new millennium, I’ve written hundreds of news reports for WND. My colleagues have written thousands more cumulatively with tons of scoops over the years. My own archive is packed with stories ranging from the possible discovery of ancient Egyptian chariot wheels sitting at the bottom of the Red Sea, to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s probe of Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, to roundups of the funniest news of the year.
I’ve also had the freedom to write books such as “Shocked by the Bible” and “The Divine Secret: The Awesome and Untold Truth About Your Phenomenal Destiny” (coming July 17). If I were still in the brain-dead world of TV and radio news, I don’t know that I ever would have produced those focus-on-God projects.
And it’s the God of the Bible who ultimately matters. He is the real news, the Good News with whom everyone needs to get right as soon as possible.
As WND continues its ascension to the top of the news world, I thank our Creator that He’s raised this agency to be such a driving force in the New Media today.
It truly is a free press for a free people.