Welcome Senior Editor Rod Walton
I’d like to use this month’s column to let Senior Editor Rod Walton, the newest member of our team, introduce himself. The entire staff is thrilled to have him.
Once a daydreamer always a daydreamer.
I have chosen to work as a writer-editor covering an industry full of pragmatic, no-nonsense and scientifically driven people. Yet I cannot shake the occasional detour into flights of fancy.
I was inspired recently by the news that a new play about Alexander Hamilton was going to debut on Broadway. Hamilton is my favorite founding father, or my FFF if you will. The stranger than fiction story of the ultimate American dreamer is going to be told not with historical footnotes but through hip hop music.
Along those lines, I was driving home one evening thinking about my new job as senior editor of both Electric Light & Power and POWERGRID International magazines. I had just seen data which shows that the transmission and distribution sector attracts more readers than some other subjects within the industry.
One thing led to another. A story about Alexander Hamilton led to thoughts about hip hop and ultimately to my daily work. Soon I was mimicking Chuck D. from Public Enemy and imagining this sing-along in my car: Chuck D. rapping out “I’m talking about T&D,” and then a dance-happy chorus shouting out “Transmission and Distribution!”
I’m sorry, but this is what you’re stuck with for a while. I jump into the kinetic, frenetically advancing world of the power grid with much excitement and energy. Previously I spent 22 years as a writer and editor with the Tulsa World newspaper. My last eight years were focused on the down, up and down-again oil and gas industry.
Yet electrical power constantly crossed my path. I wrote about rate increases and plans to shut down coal-fired plants. I’ve met more than once with the people behind the Plains and Eastern Clean Line HVDC transmission project to bring wind power from western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle through Arkansas and to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The world is ever changing. There’s a phrase we used in the newsroom that “we don’t have the megaphone to ourselves anymore.” Media outlets were a one-way communication from the decision makers to the audience. The Internet and wireless revolutions surely have made that a two-day dialogue.
The same is true in the “I’m talking about T&D” world. Smart meters, demand response and, in some states, deregulation, have put some of the power into the customers’ hands. Utilities don’t have megaphone to themselves anymore, either.
It’s exciting, and a little scary to see where this is all going. Not as scary, of course, as hearing me sing hip hop in the safety of my own car.