In today's column, please understand that what I am going to say is not meant to brag or toot my own horn, but rather to express sincere gratitude from my heart for my listeners and readers across the nation who have blessed me with your wonderful letters and phone calls over the years. For this, I can only say "To God be the glory."
During the decade of the 1970s, it was my privilege to work with our nation's schools as a business consultant. It became my joy to speak to more than 500 school faculties, dozens of student bodies and commencement exercises, along with conducting more than 50 six-hour "How to Plan Your Life" seminars with high school students. This was by far the most rewarding work of my life, and I am sure this is where I got my passion for literacy.
In 1980, the decision was made to begin a daily five-minute radio program that was known as "How to Plan Your Life." In time this program would run on more than 300 stations coast to coast and was heard by thousands of listeners each weekday. My first station was KARK in Little Rock, and it also ran in Conway for several years on KCON radio.
In 1995, fate smiled on me again as the publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat spoke to our local Lions Club, and I met him there. During our visit, I asked him if he might consider running something positive and encouraging for his readers. He said, "Let's take look at it." Well, he accepted my offer, and I am honored to say that my column is still running, more than 26 years later. My column is self-syndicated, which means I personally sold each newspaper, and newspaper people later told me that my column may be the most successful in the history of American journalism. At the zenith of the newspaper industry around the turn of the century, my column had run in 375 newspapers in 35 states. Based on the numbers, more than 1 million readers were reading my column each week.
But like everything else that goes up, sooner or later it must come down. After the turn of the century, due to no fault of their own, the newspaper industry fell on hard times. Most young people do not read the newspaper, and electronic media has taken over. Between 2004 and today, more than 2,000 newspapers have gone out of business. Many of these were carrying my column and others had to drop it for economic reasons. The bottom line is that today I have less than a dozen papers that still run my column. Just know that I am deeply grateful for each paper that ran it over the years, and I truly appreciate the opportunity to be of service.
This is the reason for the title, "Friends: This One Is for You." If you still read and enjoy my column, I want to make a special offer for you today. Following are the papers that are still running: In Arkansas, we have The Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs, The Courier in Russellville, Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, The Cleveland County Herald in Rison, The Wynne Progress in Wynne, and The Times Herald in Forrest City. In Kentucky, we have The Pioneer News in Shepherdsville, and The Hancock Clarion in Hawesville. In Kansas, we have The Spearville News in Spearville. In Mississippi, we have The Belzoni Banner in Belzoni. In Montana, we have The Wibaux Pioneer-Gazette in Wibaux.
Another special blessing is that over the years I have also received hundreds of letters from prison inmates in 15 states and readers from all across America, who moved from their hometown and still get a subscription mailed to them.
Here is my offer: I have a great book titled, "Better Than the Best." This book has 60 of my best columns. For the first 25 readers who write to me, I will send you a free personally signed copy. Send me a note at Jim Davidson, 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.