When I was hired in 1988 as a reporter for The Washington Times, I gave no thought to whether my children might someday work for the same newspaper. For one, I feared I might not last a month, given the high expectations and deadline pressure of working for a busy metropolitan daily.
For another, I had no children.
Three kids and 28 years later, however, my middle child, Bradford Richardson, joined The Times. In doing so, he and I staked our claim as the first — and so far only — mother-son reporting tandem in our publication’s 35-year history.
In some ways, I’m not surprised. I think being a newspaper reporter is a great job, and some of my enthusiasm for the profession may have rubbed off on my son. As The Times’ Western correspondent, I work from my home in Colorado, which means my kids watched me for years conduct phone interviews, dash off to press events and scramble to finish stories before carting them to soccer practice or piano lessons.
We planned more than a few family vacations around my travel schedule. Any interview in Aspen or Steamboat Springs was a great excuse for a weekend trip to the mountains. When the Democratic National Convention was held in Los Angeles, we drove out a few days early and visited Grandpa in Bakersfield. I met with the Nevada governor while my husband and kids circled the state Capitol outside.
One time I interviewed Sen. Craig Thomas of Wyoming on the phone while holding a baby — and it might have been Brad — who decided at that moment to start bawling. I was mortified, but Mr. Thomas just laughed and said he understood. He died in 2007, and I won’t forget how much I appreciated his kindness that day.
Brad tells me he grew up thinking that having a reporter for a mom was no big deal. Sometimes it meant rescheduling events — we still remember the year we postponed his birthday party because it fell on the same day as the execution of the Oklahoma City bomber — but most of the time the demands of the job fit into our daily routine.
And it’s entirely possible that Brad may have gone into the news business without my influence. His career started just like mine, with a high school journalism class that led to a spot on the student newspaper.
Both of our paths to The Washington Times ran through Claremont, California. I served as editor of the Student Life at Pomona College during my junior year. Years later, Brad enrolled at Claremont McKenna College and became editor of the Claremont Independent. Still, he didn’t think about journalism seriously until he broke a national story about Scripps College’s disinvitation to a high-profile conservative speaker, columnist George F. Will.
Brad was hooked. He moved to the nation’s capital after graduation and did a brief stint at The Hill before coming aboard at The Times.
As far as I’m concerned, it was meant to be: He was hired on the same day as I was — Feb. 29, or Leap Day — 28 years earlier.
It might seem odd to have your son working at your place of business, but for me, it’s been great fun. We talk on the phone almost every day about what we’re writing. We’ve had a few joint bylines. I’ve probably taught him a few tricks of the trade, but he’s also shown me a thing or two.
Embarrassing but true: I didn’t know how to use Google docs until Brad explained it to me. Of course, he still doesn’t know how to change a typewriter ribbon.
What I also appreciate is having someone in my family with a connection to my co-workers. For years, my kids would see a call come in from the 202 area code and holler, “Mom, it’s Victor,” meaning National Editor Victor Morton. Or Dave (Politics Editor David Sands). Or Chris (Executive Editor Chris Dolan).
These were people whose names they had heard all their lives but had never met. And now Brad knows them, too.
Years ago, I took the kids to visit The Washington Times newsroom on New York Avenue during a family trip to Washington. Brad, who was about 10, played a game of chess with then-National Editor Ken Hanner. The estimable Mr. Hanner, who apparently does not hold back when playing against little kids, trounced the lad.
Kenny, if you’re reading this, Brad’s back in the newsroom. And I think he wants a rematch.
• Bradford Richardson contributed to this report.
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