End of an era at Loeb School as longtime director departs

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Laura Simoes, left, incoming Director of the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication, and David Tyrell Wysocki, who is retiring after more than half a century in the trenches of journalism. Photo/Geoff Forester

MANCHESTER, NH — When David Tirrell-Wysocki retired on the final day of 2019, his departure marked the end of a career in journalism spanning more than half a century, including more than 30 years as a reporter for the Associated Press in Concord and the last 13 years as executive director of the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in Manchester.

As a student at Boston University in the 1970s, the Newport, RI, native held down a variety of reporting jobs in addition to attending classes and writing term papers. He was a stringer in Boston for the New York Times, worked part-time for the Worcester Evening Gazette and was a news writer and talk show producer for Boston radio station WEEI. He was also news director at the campus radio station and a reporter for the campus newspaper. With all that going on, you might wonder how he was able to eat, sleep and, oh yes, attend classes. 

“Time management,” is his brief and simple explanation.  In New Hampshire, he worked at radio stations WKME in Keene and WKXL in Concord before joining the AP for a run of “32 years and a few months.” Covering major news stories statewide over that length of time obviously produces some enduring, if not always pleasant, memories. 

“Covering the challenger explosion from the bleachers at Cape Canaveral,” is one such memory of a lifetime, Tirrell-Wysocki said, recalling the 1986 explosion on the spaceship that took the lives of all seven crew members, including Concord High School teacher Christa McAuliffe. And in 1997 he covered the shooting spree in Colebrook that resulted in the killing of two state troopers, a local judge and town selectman, an editor of the local newspaper and, finally, the killer himself. Racing from Concord to Colebrook to gather and report the facts as well as the emotional drama of the event posed a special kind of challenge.    

“There’s a profound sense that something has happened that has affected everyone in a small town, and being aware that there are families involved, and being sensitive to the fact that you can’t go barging into a situation like that where tragedy and grief are involved. You never ask the one question that you always see in movies about reporters: ‘How do you feel?’ There are better ways of asking people about how the tragedy affects them and their families.”            

Given his experience in both broadcast and newsprint journalism, Tirrell-Wysocki seemed a natural for the role of instructor and later director at the Loeb School. 

“I was one of the first three instructors at the school when it opened in 2000, and in 2007 they asked if I would take over as the interim director. It turned into 13 years. What prompted me to take it? I was really excited about the mission of the school and teaching people about the mission, about the First Amendment and communication. And it was a good match for me.” The courses at the school are designed for anyone seeking to improve his or her communication skills, not just for those already in, or seeking to enter, the world of journalism, Tirrell-Wysocki said.    

 “Most of the people who take our writing or photography classes will never be published,” he said, “but we’ve heard back from many who appreciate becoming better at writing reports at work or in school or better photographers at a hobby or at work. But many have been published and gone on to freelance writers and reporters throughout the area. Being able to communicate is kind of the foundation of everything you do. Many of the skills that students and adults pick up through our classes help them in many areas. That’s what they’ve told us, and many of them have come back to take multiple classes. 

“What we teach is how to communicate and how to ask a good question to get the information you need in order to communicate a story or issue a thought. Things like audio production logs, podcasts, even social media are tools you use to communicate a message. You still need to be able to put words together to create a message worthy of communication and delivery.”  

Tirrell-Wysocki takes pride in the role he played in helping the school expand from three to now close to 30 classes and workshops. “A major highlight is being able to expand the offerings and help enhance the reputation and the value of the school. There’s no better feeling than seeing the place full on nights we have classes.” The now-retired director is succeeded by Laura Simoes, whose experience includes a quarter-century of running communications and public policy campaigns for non-profit organizations, including the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. She has also been an adjunct professor of communication at Southern New Hampshire University since 2014.  

Most of the classes at the school are free, and information and registration for the 2020 classes are available online at loebschool.org. While both learning and teaching the rules and know-how of the increasingly complex world of communications can be challenging, it can also be an enjoyable experience, Tirrell-Wysocki said. 

“I told every single class every single workshop in the school we have one rule: Have fun.” 

 

 

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