COMMENTARY: It’s always the good ones to go

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COMMENTARY: It’s always the good ones to go

File photo by Travis David | Former WTHI Sports Director Rick Semmler (middle) interviews Sullivan boys basketball coach Jeff Moore during the Wabash Valley Classic luncheon this past winter. Earlier this week, Semmler was let go by WTHI, owned by the Allen Media Group.
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Working in the media has been a rewarding profession. My bank accounts may beg to differ but all the connections made and friendships formed make it hard to second guess.


Not to mention, as a sports reporter — That Damn Sports Reporter to one “fan” — it’s pretty damn cool getting paid to go watch sports.


But back to the friendships.


My first full-time gig in the field out of college was at the Daily World in Linton. One of my first big assignments was covering the Wabash Valley Classic, which at the time was dubbed the Pizza Hut Classic.


That’s where I first met Rick Semmler. He was working at WTWO at the time. We chatted about the tournament, talked about the teams I covered … you know, your typical sports journalist banter.


The more we ran into each other, the more we talked. 


Rick eventually got promoted as Sports Director at rival station, WTHI, and I made my rounds throughout the midwest living out my dream.


We always remained in contact with one another, mostly on social media. 


As I left the Wabash Valley, I still always knew what was going on at my alma mater Sullivan because of Rick.


A lot of you who are reading this, always make the comment that I am a busy man running around covering this event, that event and a lot of the time this AND that event.


But let me tell you, my schedule is a walk in the park compared to that of the TV guys. They have so many more schools/teams to cover. It’s not even funny. 


But Rick made it look easy.


For those of you who have been living under a rock the last week, you may think this is going to be a tribute column to a friend who passed away.




It’s just an appreciation post to a friend who got screwed over by a greedy, incompetent company who is out of touch with reality and doesn’t know how to read the room. 


But I digress. 


Over the course of 17-plus years in this profession, I have witnessed my share of friends who fell victim of “corporate cutbacks.” Sadly, It’s all too common nowadays.


But this one didn’t make sense and it makes my skin boil with frustration. 


Rick was absolutely the best in the business.


During my time, there’s four media guys who I admire the hell out of because they are the best of the best. My Mount Rushmore if you will.


In no particular order that list includes Rick Semmler, Chris Duerr, Nicholas Vlahos and Matt Schuckman. 


Those four gents are the best of the best.


I think what made Rick and I good buddies is we are a lot alike.


I can’t hold a candle to what Rick brings to the table in terms of coverage, that’s not what I am talking about. But we both have the same forward and to-the-point attitude. Neither one of us sugarcoats things and quite frankly we don’t care who gets pissed off when reporting the truth. 


We both absolutely love giving student-athletes a platform to showcase their amazing talents. And we both have a mutual respect for one another.


Also, we both love Kentucky … although Rick hasn’t officially made that public!


I could go on and on about this or that and could probably write a novel about all of the banter from over the years. And almost just as long of a list about how big of a mistake WTHI made in letting go of the best thing that’s happened to their station in decades.


But in closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t give thanks to my buddy.


Thanks for being at the top of the media profession and making me a better reporter. While being back in the Wabash Valley I’ve tried to make sure not to be “scooped” by Rick. I have always tried to keep up with all of my teams, no matter where I have worked, but even more so here. Because I knew if I didn’t Rick would have it.


Not that it’s a bad thing, cause the most important thing is that the student-athletes are recognized, no matter who reported it first.


But it’s always good to break information on your “home turf”.


It didn’t always work out that way, but then again, that’s large in part due to Rick being as good as he is in this field.


And although I am still shocked and gutted about what transpired at the start of this week, I am grateful that my path crossed with one of the GOAT’s and that we have been able to keep in contact all of these years.


And I am kicking myself for not getting a selfie with Rick and Marty at Hinkle last month!


Best of luck in the next chapter and thanks once again!


And go ‘Cats! 


Oh, and don’t forget the step stool and/or milk crates! 



Travis David is the publisher of PressBox812 Sports and can be reached via email at: [email protected]. Follow him on X (Twitter) @Tdavid_21.


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