A salute to the man behind The Voice
Walk into the newsroom of The Washtenaw Voice, and one of the first people likely to greet you might be Keith Gave, adviser to the newspaper.
When he tells one of the stories from his glory days as a roving reporter, the image that might come to mind is that of a loud, smoke-filled newsroom full of reporters tap-tapping away at typewriters and working the phones trying to meet copy deadlines.
“He’s really an old-time news man,” said Dave Waskin, faculty adviser to Washtenaw Community College’s Journalism program.
“I saw him at the airport once when I was coming home to Michigan for a break from college. He had the look of a tired sports writer coming back from assignment, notebooks spilling out of his pockets,” Waskin recalled. “I had no idea our paths would cross again years later.”
When Gave originally applied to work for WCC, the hiring committee was merely looking for someone to guide the ship, but Gave surpassed that ideology, working tirelessly to generate ad sales and getting students involved in writing and design.
“He took the paper to a level no one expected, including me, and that has been most impressive,” Waskin said.
Impressive as he was to those at the college, it was no surprise to the likes of Bill Roose, managing editor for DetroitRedWings.com, who began working with Gave at the Detroit Free Press as a copy aid and cub reporter.
Gave is a guy who gets things done.
“He is very thorough. He was like all veteran reporters back then, can’t shake him, and can’t rattle him,” Roose said. “There would be all this noise going on and he would just bang out stories, and you’d read them and think, wow I didn’t even see that happen.”
“Keith was a great reporter and had incredible energy. Whenever there was a whiff of a story, I’d look up and he’d be on it already,” said Mitch Albom, columnist for the Detroit Free Press.
Most notably known for covering the Detroit Red Wings for the Detroit Free Press, Gave’s career has taken him on a scenic ride from hardened newsman to teacher and mentor for aspiring journalists.
“He started a newspaper at Kirtland Community College, where I work now,” said Jo Ann Gave, his wife of 24 years.
Gave originally started working at Kirtland, located in Roscommon, as a public relations director while concurrently working for the Bay City Times as a columnist and editor of True North Magazine. He started teaching journalism, and built an award-winning newspaper with just a handful of students.
“There were just about five or six of us on the staff. We were all middle aged,” said Jerry Nunn, 52, and editor and publisher of The Guide, covering northeast Michigan from I-75 to Lake Huron and north of Bay County.
“We won a lot of awards through his guidance,” said Nunn. “He was instrumental to my career.”
When the position surfaced at Washtenaw, Gave leapt at the opportunity.
“He told me that this was his dream job; what he was really meant to do, so I told him to go for it,” Jo Ann said.
However, the gig came at a small price: Gave had to acclimate himself to living in Dearborn, away from his family, during the week and traveling back home to Roscommon on the weekends.
“He misses his dogs: Chaucer, Tolstoy and Roxie. When he comes home on the weekends he just buries his face in their fur and hugs them,” Jo Ann said.
The sacrifice is huge, but it does seem to bring out the romantic side of him.
“I must get flowers more than any woman on Earth,” she said. “I know it’s because he is away all the time.”
When Gave is at home and not processing incoming copy for TheVoice, he likes to fish on the banks of the Au Sable River, just beyond an electric fence put in place so his canine friends won’t jump in.
“They just sit there and watch him and whine a little,” his wife said. “They miss him as much as he misses them. Most of the time when he is home though, he is up working into the night. I get mad at him sometimes because he works so hard.”
Reaping the benefits of his dedication, his students at Washtenaw respect and admire him for his experience and expertise, and also for his patience.
Having had some personal struggles when her father got sick and a dear friend was found dead from a heroin overdose, former Voice staffer Anna Fuqua-Smith said he was very delicate with the situation. The 26-year-old Journalism major from Ann Arbor said she is grateful to have an adviser who didn’t give up on her when she was struggling and needed it most.
“I know if I needed a friend, I could call Keith and he’d talk me through it,” she said.
Others have shared her sentiment.
“Keith Gave is a great teacher. He has kind of a smash-mouth approach to teaching that really makes everyone feel responsible for their own work,” said Adrian Hedden, features editor for The Voice.“Everything I’ve learned about journalism I’ve learned from him.”
Hedden holds Gave in high regard for all he has given to the field, but says that sometimes it can be frustrating when they don’t see eye to eye about something after it has been printed.
Aside from that, Hedden says he even derives some of his fashion sense from Gave and says he doesn’t feel so pressured to wear socks all the time.
“He’s really a no nonsense kind of guy and a lot of fun,” said Lawrence Donnelly, a conference services technician with the college, and a recent graduate of the Journalism program. “He is a great resource to have right here on campus.”
In a video shot by Donnelly, Gave talks about the pros and cons of citizen journalism and whether or not it has a place in the field, and in his opinion, it isn’t journalism.
Again, not surprising coming from a self-professed news junkie taking The Washtenaw Voice to new heights and raising the bar every academic year for community college newspapers everywhere.
Waskin calls to mind his first impression, “apart from knowing about him, the thing that stands out about Keith is his love and enthusiasm for journalism and for newspapers.”
*Editor’s note: Our adviser Keith Gave had no idea about this personality profile. Had he known, we might have not been able to get away with it. We make it a point to not write about our own, but because of the inspiration and determination he has instilled in all of his students and newspaper staff, we thought we could make an exception. Thanks for another great year, Keith.