The tradition of award-winning outdoors reporting and writing at The Blade -- a legacy spanning nine decades -- will continue, Blade Publisher and Editor-in-Chief John Robinson Block announced Wednesday, with the appointment of Matt Markey as the newspaper's new outdoors editor.
Mr. Markey, who has worked at The Blade for 17 years, will succeed Steve Pollick, who is retiring after 40 years as a writer and editor at the newspaper -- the last 28 years as outdoors editor.
The Blade conducted a national search for Mr. Pollick's successor, learning quickly that its top candidate was working within an arm's reach of Mr. Pollick's cubicle. Mr. Markey has spent the last seven years covering the Ohio State football team.
"Matt Markey's a very fitting replacement for Steve Pollick and a continuation of this tradition of The Blade always having a great outdoors writer," Mr. Block said. "He's someone who will be respected far and wide by, obviously first and foremost, The Blade readers, but also by the larger interest community of outdoors enthusiasts."
Added Kurt Franck, executive editor: "We're lucky we can pick somebody like Matt Markey, who will take us in a direction that we need to move into both digitally with great coverage and also looking from a standpoint that he's an outstanding writer who has a good background of outdoors.
"We're unique in the fact a lot of papers don't have outdoors coverage anymore. We've had for years and years -- with Steve Pollick and his predecessor -- nationally respected outdoors coverage."
As a young boy living in Fostoria, Mr. Markey often sat home waiting for his father to return from work, knowing he'd be carrying The Blade from that day so the two of them could pore over the observations written by the outdoors columnist.
For young Markey, it was an educational exercise in his favorite activities. Fly-fishing one day. Maybe mushroom hunting the next. Advice for a backpack trip. He read about it alongside his pops, a prominent area physician.
Beginning in early January, Mr. Markey, an award-winning sports writer and avid sportsman, will be the one providing outdoors insight to readers of The Blade.
"My hope is I can continue those lessons in the pages of The Blade and bring everyone along in those adventures," Mr. Markey said.
Whether exploring the extreme reaches of the Canadian wilderness, fishing off the Caribbean Islands, or inspecting a massive oak tree in Fostoria with his father and identifying its age, Mr. Markey always has had an affinity for nature. Mr. Block was impressed to learn Mr. Markey conducted research and was the expert fishing consultant to Robert Redford for four months on the set of the 1992 Redford film, A River Runs Through It, which is about fly- fishing.
Mr. Markey said his appreciation for this area's outdoors, from its rivers, lakes, and islands, heightened once he lived elsewhere.
"It's a vast arena," he said, "but not one that I find daunting at all. It's exciting to jump into."
Wanting to continue a theme beginning in the 1920s under Mr. Pollick's predecessor, Lou Klewer, Mr. Markey's primary objective will be to educate his audience. Young readers will be emphasized too, with Mr. Markey extending his volunteer work as a fishing instructor and camp counselor into the printed word.
"I think [readers] can expect to learn something from every piece because the educational side of it is so valuable to me and has been since my youth," Mr. Markey said. "I want every piece to be fun and interesting but also, when you put it down, you've learned something. That's my goal."
The Blade's goal is to continue its sterling reputation among outdoors enthusiasts.
Mr. Klewer began writing for The Blade about the outdoors in 1924 and during his nearly 60-year career at the newspaper earned more than 25 major awards from national, state, and local organizations. Ever a trailblazer, he was the first Toledo-area Boy Scout to earn the national Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, the first to receive the state's award for outstanding contributions to wildlife journalism in Ohio, and the first writer for an Ohio newspaper to win an Outdoor Writers of Ohio excellence in publication of outdoors news.
Mr. Klewer was recognized for his service in many venues.
He was awarded the Bronze Star with a V for valor for his work with the Red Cross overseas during World War II, elected to the Explorers Club of New York City in 1951, and named the Ducks Unlimited Man of the Year in 1981.
The awards kept coming even after he retired, such as the J. Hammond Brown Memorial Award, the highest honor from the Outdoor Writers Association of America, the 70 years of service award from the Toledo Area Council of Boy Scouts of America, and the Ohio Conservation Achievement Award from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Mr. Pollick, who was appointed The Blade's second outdoors editor by Blade Co-Publisher Paul Block, Jr., in 1983, was also an acclaimed writer in Ohio and nationwide.
He won dozens of awards over the years, including being recognized three times with the highest newspaper writing honor given by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. He won the organization's "best of the best" honors for work in 1985, 1999, and 2009.
Other notable accomplishments include being named a fellow of The Explorers Club in New York in 1987 and being a recipient of the Lowell Thomas journalism award from the Society of American Travel Writers, which marked his first national award in 1984.
Mr. Block called Mr. Pollick a "celebrity" at the paper and lauded him as the best outdoors columnist "on any American newspaper."
"The question, 'Why we would do this?,' is because we have such a tradition in being excellent in it," Mr. Block said. "We will not let that go."
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