With new technology shifting how media companies operate, stories from workers like Quentin Anthony will become rarer.
Today, Feb. 12, is “Bean” Anthony’s 45th anniversary in the advertising department at The Daily Times in Maryville.
“It’s not like it used to be,” said Anthony, whose grandmother nicknamed him Stringbean when he was a really skinny young boy. Over the years, the moniker got shortened. “It used to be a time where the newspaper and the radio were all they tended (to run), but now you have social media and other things where they can display their ads.”
Given the change in nature of the advertising platform, ads have had to adapt as well. One from years ago that stood out to Anthony was a single-word teaser for a new business. The company added a word in the newspaper each day following the initial ad until the phrase was complete.
Curiosity grabbed the attention of readers, but online advertisements couldn’t run a successful campaign designed that way, Anthony said.
“This (digital advertisement) was something that came on the scene here in the past two to five years,” Anthony said. “They say eventually it may replace the newspaper. It may be awhile, because a lot of older generations still love reading their newspaper in their hand instead of on a computer screen or phone.”
The death of print media to a digital screen wasn’t a forethought when he started at the paper in 1976.
Forty-five years ago, Paul Bales, an advertising executive at The Daily Times, called Alcoa High School and asked the office if there was anyone who needed a job. Anthony had returned home and was visiting his alma mater when the late Bales called.
After an interview, he was offered work as a proof carrier in the advertising department and worked his way up. Anthony attributes his career to his future wife because he fortuitously was visiting the student that day at the high school.
One wife and three kids later, he realizes he’s been working at the same place for four and a half decades.
“You got 10 years, 15 years, then 20 years,” Anthony said with a laugh. “You know, times go by fast. I guess I was having so much fun, I just didn’t realize where all the time had gone.”
Bales had a substantial impact on Anthony’s life and career and taught him how to do the job the right way.
“Right now, I’m the last of that breed,” Anthony said. “I’m the last of the crew that was here for many years. It was like a little family, really.”
Anthony would advise any students going into the advertising field to learn as much as possible, like he did from Bales, and to make sure they like people. He meets people of all types on a daily basis and said, “If you’re not a people person, I don’t think it’s good for you.”
At the beginning of each day, he’ll check emails and missed calls, and then he creates a schedule. He may visit five to six businesses around town to see if they need advertising for an upcoming sale or product.
Working with people and seeing the benefit that comes out of their ads is his favorite part of the job, he said, adding that he takes pride in the responses businesses receive from successful ad campaigns. Knowing the newspaper was a part of it “makes all the difference in the world,” Anthony said.
“If you put something together and they get a tremendous response from it,” Anthony said, “you feel like you’ve done your job.”
Once a business shows interest in buying an advertisement, he gathers as much information as possible. He’ll check to see if there is artwork or particular words and phrases to include. Then, he’ll send it to the creative department to craft something to be proofed by the business before it’s published.
“It’s been good that I could remain with the same employer all these years without any layoffs, and good that they were able to give me a chance to provide for the family that I had, so I’m grateful.”
The oldest of his three sons was born three years after he started working at the newspaper.
“I used to laugh at this (certain) guy because he couldn’t remember how old his kids were,” Anthony said. But while trying to remember how old his youngest is, Anthony said, “Now it happens to me.”