1. How’s it going being a co-owner of the Webster-Kirkwood Times?
A. It’s great! It’s the most challenging, but most rewarding, opportunity I’ve ever had. Publisher Randy Drilingas, General Manager Kent Tentschert and I, along with the rest of our staff (our “WKT Dream Team”) love that we’ve been able to bring the newspaper back in print and continue the tradition of community journalism for our readers. 🗞❤
The first edition of the WK Times printed under new ownership
Source: Jaime Mowers
2. What is the last book you read? Have any favorites you’d like to mention?
A. I’m currently reading “Leave Out The Tragic Parts: A Grandfather’s Search For A Boy Lost To Addiction” by award-winning journalist David Kindred. It’s a powerful memoir about Kindred’s investigation into his grandson’s death that delves into addiction, grief and loss, and the stories we choose to tell ourselves and our families. Ironically, Kindred does anything but “leave out the tragic parts” of the story, but that’s exactly why it’s so compelling.
I just finished reading “Everything Happens For A Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler. The book is a raw, honest journey through this young mother and professor’s Stage IV cancer diagnosis in which she explores the pain and joy of living without certainty. I love authors who aren’t afraid to describe in detail the pain and suffering, but who also talk about finding the moments of hope and joy that still exist — and Bowden does exactly that.
I also have to give a shout out to “Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened,” by Allie Brosh. My best friend gifted me this book shortly after I lost my dad, and I laugh-cried and cry-laughed my way through this book then, and still go back to it every now and again. Brosh makes the big scary things like depression and anxiety so real and relatable — and a lot less scary! 📚
Also…Glennon Doyle. Always Glennon Doyle, too. 😊
3. Tell me a little bit about your Buzzing Love project?
A. Well…how much time do you have?! I could literally write a book about Buzzing Love, but I’ll try to keep this (mostly) short and then you can buzz over to Buzzing Love if you want the longer version.
Buzzing Love is what I call my “heart” project. It was born out of the tragedy in which my dad’s life was taken on June 29, 2014. Buzzing Love came about as a way of putting as much love as possible into that pain. It started as a way to honor my dad’s life and pass on his legacy of love, laughter and kindness, and has since grown into so much more. 🐝💗🐝💗
Founded in loving memory of my dad, Gary A. Baranyai, Buzzing Love encourages random (or not-so-random) acts of kindness, especially the small ones that often make someone’s day. It’s about putting more kindness into the world wherever you are, however you choose to do it.
While Buzzing Love encourages kindness any time, our biggest “buzziest” and kindest day is “Buzzing Love Day,” held each year on June 29. Anyone, anywhere in the world can join us and participate — we simply encourage people to practice an act of kindness of their choosing wherever they happen to be on June 29. We also encourage people to share those acts of kindness on social media via the hashtag #buzzinglove.
Our Buzzing Love Day this year was extra special, as Webster Groves Mayor Gerry Welch proclaimed June 29, 2021, as “Buzzing Love Day: A Day of Kindness” in the city of Webster Groves! It was amazing to feel all the love and see how the community got involved in Buzzing Love Day this year — I already can’t wait for next year!
Gary Baranyai, the inspiration behind Mowers’ Buzzing Love project
Source: Jaime Mowers
4. How did all the challenges of the past year impact the Webster-Kirkwood Times?
A. Starting (or taking over) a business is challenging at any time, but throw in a global pandemic and the stakes get even higher! Like many other businesses, we’ve faced a number of challenges over the past year, but we’ve also had a lot of successes. We learn every single day, and we’ll keep learning and adapting. Where there’s a will, there’s a way…and our team always finds a way!
One of several challenges-turned-successes in our eyes happened when the annual Turkey Day football game in November 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19 just two weeks prior to the traditional Thanksgiving Day game between Webster Groves and Kirkwood high schools. All of our plans for the upcoming special section of the paper that we do every year for Turkey Day had to quickly be revamped. We decided to dedicate the section to all of the senior football players on both teams, featuring their photos. We also made the section about how the traditional Turkey Day festivities such as the chili fest, spirit days and pep rallies were modified due to COVID-19. Even though the game was canceled, there were still many ways the community was coming together and sharing the Turkey Day spirit, so it was a perfect way to highlight that.
When one of our carriers died suddenly, our other carriers and several employees stepped in to take on extra work until we could find another carrier to help deliver the paper.
What could have been a challenge concerning COVID-19 vaccinations didn’t end up being a challenge at all because all of our employees chose to get the vaccine and have been fully vaccinated for months.
An overall challenge that we’ve had to navigate — and continue to navigate — is operating with a smaller staff. Prior to the pandemic, the Times had a staff of more than two dozen people. We now have a staff of 10, which means that everyone has multiple responsibilities. But as I said before, where there’s a will, there’s a way…and our WKT Dream Team always finds a way!
We are also very honored to be one of the businesses in the 63119 area code to receive a “Creativity In Crisis 2020” Award from the Webster Groves/Shrewsbury/Rock Hill Area Chamber of Commerce for our successes in navigating the newspaper through the pandemic.
5. We’re a bunch of foodies over here at the library, so we have to ask: what is your comfort food?
A. Swedish Fish! 🐟🍥😃
6. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
A. Spend it with my dad. ❤
7. What excites you about the future of the paper?
A. We are especially excited to be coming up on our one-year anniversary of purchasing the paper and returning to print in September! It’s been an incredible year. We’re so grateful to the community and our advertisers who continue to make it possible for us to print a paper out each week, and we look forward to continuing to grow and keeping community journalism alive for our readers in our area.
To hear more from Jaime Mowers, check out her monthly column in the WK Times, and be sure to visit the Webster-Kirkwood Times website for even more news!