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Barbwire: 25 years before the masthead
by Andrew Barbano
Aug 07, 2013 | 1386 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
What a long strange trip it’s been. On Friday, 12 August 1988, a couple of months after the weekly Tribune went daily, this screed first hit the streets of Sparks.

Blame a nun and Gomorrah South. In 1987, Las Vegas publisher Lyle Brennan was looking to expand his magazine empire northward.

He knew that hiring local media personalities would create buzz. He quickly committed top jock D. Brewster Finley from KRNO 106.9-fm and longtime KOLO TV-8 news anchor Tad Dunbar.

Brennan also approached Reno Gazette-Journal columnists Guy Richardson and Cory Farley.

After looking at copies of LV and Sunworld Airlines magazines, the RGJ managing editor — who shall forever live in infamy as Ass-pinching Ed — said no.

“These magazines have local advertisers in them,” insisted old bullet dome. “If they want to read you guys, they have to buy our paper.”

Corporate case closed.

Brennan asked Richardson for a referral. Guy said “I know somebody I think you’ll like. He’s a good writer, he’s got an edge and a style.”

I submitted my first installment, “Theme Casinos, Spuds MacKenzie and Brigitte Bardot.”

Brennan said his editor actually fell off her chair laughing when she read it. (I was not sued.)

I went on to write several cover features as well as a monthly commentary. Brennan still publishes Nevada Business Magazine.

In the summer of 1988, I heard that new owners were taking the Tribune daily. I walked in with my magazine articles and publisher Randy Frisch asked me to write three sample columns.

The first gave the inside story of the financial meltdown of the inaugural Hot August Nights. The second took a dark journey to Nevada’s first AIDS hospice. Next came a lampoon about using the new county jail to solve the problems of rapid urban growth. Installment four detailed my human rights confrontation of Chilean Consul General Leopoldo Porras, a servant of the bloody Pinochet regime, at a local Republican Party luncheon.

The Barbwire became a radio show a month later and eventually morphed into TV, a return to which is in the offing. (See Barbwire.TV)

THE NUN’S STORY. I have been writing opinion pieces since I first published a hand-written newspaper at age 13 during my freshman year of high school.

By senior year, I had worked my way up to become editor of the student paper but got skated by an underclassman destined for corporate greatness. I was instead named “managing editor,” which really meant ad salesman, something I had also proven good at.

I refused to take the job or the dis. I put on a blindingly hot yellow tie (a cross-examination technique I  learned from debate team stories about famed lawyer Clarence Darrow) and confronted icy Sister Steven, the journalism advisor.

She informed me that I was not named editor because I was “too antagonistic.”

Perceptive woman.

Next week: A quarter-century of highs and lows.

Esté bien. Haga infierno.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 44-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail barbano@frontpage.reno.nv.us.
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