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Tara Milligan

Interview by Aranda Gehringer

Audio Transcription

Tara Milligan  0:01  
Got it. Thank you. I wondered after I set that up

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  0:07  
You read my mind. Yeah!

Tara Milligan  0:09  
Let me pause on my email real quick. So I'm not gonna go ahead and get distracted. Hopefully, I can turn the phone over.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  0:22  
Fingers crossed. Well, thank you again, for taking the time to talk with me. I know quite a few of my classmates have been talking to other people, and your name has come up a lot with people saying the nicest things. This process has been really cool. We have class tonight, actually, and as we're hearing a little bit from people that were involved in all different aspects, it's been cool to put the puzzle pieces together, and especially talk to some people about where they're at now in their career, and how I mean, even writing as like a student-journalist for the paper was so foundational to what they're doing now. It has been cool. So we're excited to get your perspective, too. And I'm gonna kind of walk us through questions all over the place, but feel free to lead me wherever if you think I'm not asking something that seems important to the story of the paper, just let me know. Okay. So can you tell us a little bit, I guess about your early interest in journalism, even before you decided to attend the U of M. What sparked, I guess, that interest in writing or journalism for you?

Tara Milligan  1:28  
I mean, I always had an interest in writing, from even being a little girl and just trying to write books, you know, your density of like, I'm gonna write a book, because I love to read I was a total bookworm. So I think writing flowed naturally out of that. I wasn't necessarily interested in journalism as a career, though. I had a friend whose mother worked at the local newspaper where I grew up. And so I did spend some time in a newsroom and in a press room when I was young. And I was kind of fascinated by that. And when I went to the U of M, I thought I was going to be an English major, specifically technical writing, because, you know, the idea of being an English major scared my mother to death, she didn't know what the outcome was going to be. So I picked something very practical, you know, technical writing, and then as a part of that took my first journalism class.It's kind of like, mass media, you know, survey course, and then a, like, news writing 101 kind of a course. And it's funny, because my very first story I wrote, I got an F on that story. And I was completely devastated. I'd never gotten an F on anything I'd ever written. I mean, I went, I won an essay contest, as a junior in high school that ended up being a trip to Washington, D.C., it was a really great experience, it sort of unlocked in my mind, oh, wow, we’re writing can really get me somewhere.But making that F like, it just kind of lit a fire under me. And I was like, I'll figure this out. And, and I sort of like, really got into it. And by the end of this semester, that journalism professor, had put an application to the Daily Helmsman, which is, you know, the college news, and asked me to be on staff. So that's how I got started.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  3:29  
Awesome. And tell me a little bit about choosing to attend graduate school, I guess that process leading up to you getting plugged in with the Teen Appeal post grad.

Tara Milligan  3:42  
So, yeah, grad school getting, again, that wasn't really on my agenda. I finished my undergrad. I went to work for, you know, a corporation here in Memphis. And, again, it was sort of like in a technical writing field.  I wasn't using my journalism degree that I had earned. And I did that for about six months, and I just really was not happy. And sort of just did some soul searching and re-evaluation and had talked to Elinor Grusin about grad school. And so we just sort of changed course and got me, you know, accepted into grad school. And from there, so - the, you know, I'm trying to - I don't have a recollection of when I first heard about the Teen Appeal. I just know that following grad school, I moved back to my hometown. I was working from my hometown newspaper and finally putting that journalism degree to use. I was there for about a year but it's a really - it was a really small town. You know, I was definitely looking for something, you know, more advanced, and was probably talking to Elinor about, like, you know, trying to find some leads on different jobs or, you know, what should my next step be? And I think that's where the Teen Appeal came up from her and her suggesting to me that I'd apply for the, you know, coordinator position.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  5:06  
And I guess going back to what the initial launch of the paper and the process really kicked off, can you, I guess, recall, like the energy of that time period, what was it like building something from the ground up like that? 

Tara Milligan  5:27  
Well, you know, when I first - you know, started, it was pre-camp. So there was a lot of anticipation brewing about what you know, that first journalism camp was going to be like, and I wasn't involved at that point, like, I had not recruited any of these students, it was the very first camp, nobody really knew what to expect. I mean, it was a lot of hands-on work, just even setting up the training rooms and trying to figure out how it was going to flow. So I like - at the very start I was deep into kind of logistics and details and nitty gritty of like, planning and bringing this all together, without really knowing what I was getting into. And so there was a lot of anticipation about it, and like, “Is this really going to work?” Like, you know, we've invited all these kids. Are they going to show up? So the energy and enthusiasm really came about, you know, when camp happened. And, you know, we had all these kids from all these different schools, and then you had the professionals from the Commercial Appeal, you know, helping to teach classes and, and we were sort of, you know, the metaphor of like, you know, flying, you're building the plane as you're flying it. I mean, we were, we were just coming up with it. Like, we know, that's when we named the newspaper during camp, and we didn't have a name. We were coming up with awards that we were going to give out. So it was I think there was a lot of, I don't know, sort of spontaneous kind of creativity happening, not just from the kids, but from us as well. It was, that was really the first glimpse of like, okay, you know, this is - this is gonna be fun. And what we're doing is important, you know, 

Aranda Hanks Gehringer
Yeah, and you mentioned camp, I guess. And I think that's one of the things that's most interesting to me, because if I had been a high schooler in the area, that's something that I would have just nerd it out over. I think that idea is so cool. What was that like? What were the kids doing at camp? Obviously, like Commercial Appeal writers were coming in. It was collaborative, it sounds like but what was that experience like? Especially knowing some of these kids probably don't have any background in journalism? 

Tara Milligan
Yeah, we were just trying to kind of introduce them to the concepts of being a journalist, being a writer, being a photographer, they got to tour the Commercial Appeal, I think that was kind of a highlight, you know, of the camp. So it was really just these professionals kind of coming in and telling them, it's funny, we don't have the buzzwords we have now, like, about storytelling. I think that would have been frowned upon at the time, the idea of storytelling is it almost sounds like fiction versus journalism. But, you know, we're just kind of trying to ground them in the very basics of how to do an interview, how to put together a story, how to come up with ideas. And then kind of just the basics of photography and framing a shot. So they were just like, they were scattered around campus. Like, we bring them together. And then we sometimes kind of send them out and they'd be roaming campus, taking photos or finding somebody to interview about something, interviewing each other. It was sort of a controlled chaos. I think, in some ways. It was a lot of fun. I mean, I definitely wouldn't nerd it out, too. I guess there was a part of me that, you know, did at the beginning worry, like, are they gonna have the room? We want it to be fun. Are they gonna have fun? Are they gonna learn something? I mean, that was kind of the whole goal. And then a kid, you know, students that age, I keep calling them kids, but at the time, I was, like, 25 years old. So I was a kid really myself. That anyway, they're gonna, they're gonna naturally bring, you know, enthusiasm and natural curiosity to the whole, you know, experience. So they made it fun, they were great.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  9:14  
I guess, after camp wraps up and you're really launching into, like, working through the editorial process with the students, what is that experience like, like, keeping them on track, that sort of thing?

Tara Milligan  9:42  
Um, that again, is kind of where the, like, planner me comes out. Because it was such a large group, we had to really quickly kind of figure out a way to like, harness the energy properly and give a lot of direction. So, you know, that the, you know, the idea of planning for every issue and trying to get ahead and even think, “Okay, well we'll you know, we're planning for September now. And let's go ahead and think about October as well.” We had monthly pizza parties that wasn't kind of a, you've probably heard about this too, that wasn't a thing at this at the start, but we quickly realized, like, okay, we gotta have at least one kind of monthly touch base where we try to bring everybody back again, and maybe, you know, debrief on the issues and the stories and offer some additional tips or just, you know, revisit some, some tips reinforce, you know, some best practices, you know, those were really helpful. I don't remember I know, at one time, we kind of toyed around with this idea of like this, like, I can't remember what we call them, like a blue group, you know, red group or something where, you know, this group was dedicated to the September issue, and this group would have been dedicated to the October issue, so, so we could like, kind of swap them out. I tried to read up on best practices from other teen newspapers, or I remember trying to find other examples and how they operated, just to try to get a handle on it. Because there I mean, there were 30 ish schools, I can't really remember it was close to 30. And we generally had a couple of reporters and one photographer from every school. So it was, it was a lot of kids - a lot.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  11:22  
And I know, you mentioned that you weren't involved in like that initial recruiting, you kind of jumped in, and those kids are already there. But what was the recruiting process, like, I guess, once the program was starting to get a little bit more recognition, maybe 

Tara Milligan  12:16  
That was one of my favorite pieces, actually, because recruiting meant me personally visiting all of those high schools in the spring. So every spring, I would drive to every single high school. And I'd have, like a contact person, usually an English teacher, you know, at every one of the schools, we would coordinate a date and time, they would promote it, you know, that I would be there. So the whole point was me visiting the school meeting with a group of students who were interested, handing out applications trying to collect the applications, like actually having them, like filling them out while they were there. So that I would leave with some in hand, you know, just answer any, any questions that they had, I really loved that piece. Because, you know, because I could talk to the students one on one, and give them you know, a spiel about the experience, and hopefully, what we wanted them to get out of it. And just just visiting the schools themselves, I'm not from Memphis. So, you know, I learned the city in a whole different way, driving to all those dozens of high schools. And I really got an inside view to have, you know, I mean, the Memphis City Schools are not like, they get beat up a lot. And that is from that experience, I could speak from a very personal place about like, you know, I, I've been to the schools like as I you know, of course, I don't work there. I'm not there every day, but I see teachers trying really hard, I see students in classrooms working and studying. Like, I don't know it for me, it was a it was a good perspective, to have it a good view to have to personally experience every single school and to be there and and it just cut through all the you know, I don't know, just the the bad press that was out there about each of these schools. So I really, I really loved the recruiting process.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  13:41  
Yeah, where are you from, Tara? 

Tara Milligan  15:00  
I grew up in McMinnville, Tennessee. There were a few stragglers, a few of us who ended up in Memphis. But yeah, grew up in McMinnville. It's a very small town, totally different. One high school in the entire county. So it was a little overwhelming thinking about the idea of, you know, 30 something high schools, but it's so funny, they all know each other. This is, this is the thing about Memphis, you know, there's just, there's just connections upon connections, and they have ways of knowing each other. They - maybe they didn't go to school together, but maybe they went to an after school program together. And so they - they knew each other that way, even though they didn't go to school together. It was wild to me how many of these kids from all these different high schools knew each other? Yeah, on top of it being really cool that the Teen Appeal, I guess, adds that extra layer.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  15:38  
I'm the exact same thing. I'm from McNairy County in West Tennessee. So we have two high schools in our county and you just really didn't know other kids in this way. Maybe if you played sports. So it's cool to me that they don't know building even more connections in the community is really unique when you're a teenager. Yes. Yeah. Is there a specific story or a feature that you can recall that really stands out? Maybe that you really enjoyed working on with a student? Or that was just really impressive during your time with the Teen Appeal? 

Tara Milligan  15:43  
Okay, I have to confess I cheated a little bit and went back after, okay. Because I was like, Oh, my gosh, that's been 25 years. And so I really, I had to, I had to cheat and look back at some archived issues I found online, thank goodness. And it was so great. It's like walking down memory lane. So I'm sure, you know, just from looking at those few issues, I was just really proud of the work. And I was like, Oh, wow, you know, we were tackling, you know, big things like crime in schools, and I don't know, that was fun. Because we because kids love I mean, it was all about like, you know what they're wearing? So they love taking photos of each other, you know, showing off their fashion? I don't know, I just thought that was all fun. Yeah, it's funny, you mentioned that the two themes were kind of noticing that are brought up a lot or the style section because it gets it is such a, it's such a cool way to place this moment in time. And then also just the topics. I don't know, that was fun. Because we - because kids love, I mean, it was all about like, you know what they're wearing? So they love taking photos of each other, you know, showing off their fashion? I don't know, I just thought that was all fun. 

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  17:42  
Yeah, it's funny, you mentioned that. The two themes we’re kind of noticing that are brought up a lot are the style section because it gets - it is such a, it's such a cool way to place this moment in time. And then also just the topics. We've been talking about them as a group and the fact that some of the students are talking about teen pregnancy. They were like we remember wanting to talk about gang violence. Yeah. And just stuff that you wouldn't think. I don't know if that would be talked about at that time.

Tara Milligan  17:53  
Marcus wrote, like an opinion. Marcus Matthews wrote, like, an opinion piece on the use of the word gangs. Yeah, and I remember that being really good. I mean, they came up with these ideas, and they really wrote from the heart. It was great.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  18:01  
And so I guess I don't really know, at the involvement on the parent level, was there as like, a level of communication that you did have with parents? Or was it really just the students? They're in the driver's seat? 

Tara Milligan  18:40  
Oh, that's so funny. That had never really dawned on me before. But no, I did not. Which also is so unique. Like, I don't think that would happen now. Yeah, it's a different environment now. Right? Um, no, I, you know, after the fact. There were definitely some parents I met and there was one student, Carlene Roy. I remember her mother was like a counselor at Central High School. Thank you. It was Central. So hard to keep up. But anyway, um, so I had met her mom, just because of the whole recruiting process. I don't even think I saw these parents when they were, you know, picking their kids up from campus. And a lot of the kids rode buses. So, you know, they were catching a bus home. So no, I don't remember meeting any parents. It was so funny. I had never thought about that. You're right. I don't know that would be the case now. Yeah. Which just adds the unique experience that they really were, it's almost like going to work like they were going into their thing. They were independent journalists doing their thing. Very impressive.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  19:29  
And I guess we talked about it a little bit. I was going to ask about, you know, content that was built ahead of its time, but you kind of hit the nail on the head there. I guess jumping ahead a little bit to when you maybe heard about the fact that the funding was coming to an end or what that moment in time was like, Do you remember some of that? And when you maybe heard the news? 

Tara Milligan  19:50  
No, I mean, I had you know, I was coordinator for - it was like three and a half years. It wasn't quite four years. Um, and there were so many, you know, there were several people after me. I knew that when the Commercial Appeal was sold, that it was new when it was sold to get net that like, oh, you know, what is that going to mean for funding since it was all funded through Scripps Howard Foundation, and we get that pick it up? So, um, I'm sure I had conversations with Dr. Grusin, you know, about trying to save the funding. And I think there was even some activity around trying to say that, you know, some press coverage of it. I just, I just don't recall very much about that. Because I just, I just wasn't as involved at that point. 

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  21:05  
And I guess from the student perspective, as well as faculty that you collaborate with on it, is there anyone that you're still in close touch with, I guess, what have those relationships looked like even moving forward? 

Tara Milligan  21:37  
It's - it's kind of wild. I've stayed in touch with a number of people. You know, Marcus Matthews, of course. And he's doing great. So proud. I'm proud of all of them. But yeah, you know, and so there's a group of us who try to get together every now and then Marcus Matthews. April Thompson, when she was writing for me, Keona Gardener and larger groups and like we all try to when people are in town, like Keona is the one who left first to Missouri and in Florida, and now she's in Denver. We try to plan - you know, and get together so I've stayed in touch with them. I was April's like - I was in her wedding. Wow, I was a bridesmaid or maybe it was maid of honor. I cannot remember. But I was in her wedding. And, you know, Keona - you know, we have definitely stayed in touch over the years. I've, I've, especially with April and Keona, I think I kind of developed an ongoing kind of mentoring relationship with them. That has really stayed. Um, Alisha Tillery was another writer. And she is like, PR director at an agency here in Memphis. And we've certainly stayed in touch. Christopher Owens. I can't remember what school he went to. But he worked at ALSAC or a little while. So we were colleagues for a bit. I'm trying to think of who else I've kind of stayed in touch with. There's others that I kind of follow on Facebook. I mean, Katori Hall, she's you know, I'm sure her name has come up. She's such a superstar. I saw Tina the Musical the other weekend. And I was just like, I cannot believe I knew this girl as a teenager. Oh, who else - Jennean Farmer who's done some acting as well. She's doing great. And I don't you know, and there's - Oh, there was another student I looked at the other day because she's, I think it's Carly. I think it's Carly Roy maybe who is like she does kind of like style. You know, events. So yeah, I mean, there's - there's a number of them who there's others who kind of stood out that I didn't really keep up with as well like Jessica Marlar. I remember her from, you know, that first group, John Regrit, Lisa Hanks, who was good friends with Katori Hall. Lisa and Kator iwere like, you know, buddies kind of attached at the hip. Now keep up with Lisa on Facebook. We're still friends. So yeah, there's a lot of them. Especially that first group. Yeah, and it's because April and Marcus ended up going to University of Memphis. And so I saw them a lot because they were on campus. And Keona just kept up with, because -that just, you know, I just wanted to do check-ins with her and see how she was doing.

Yeah, there's a few of them that I've kept up with. And there's a few that I just remember really, really well.

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  24:14  
And that's something that kind of just keeps popping back up is also like the levels of success that some of these people have reached. And then when we speak with them, especially some that I mean, you would say like, have reached their own level of fame. Now almost the way they direct it right back to learning the skills that they learned on the paper is really cool to hear someone talk about how they're so excited to speak with some of my classmates about this because they're like, No, I credit everything to what I learned there. Right? Yeah, and just Memphis as a whole like, really is those two things that they bring everything right back to like at their roots. So it's been cool to listen to those stories because some of these people were Like, wow, I can't believe they're on the Teen Appeal. That's crazy that these people have all just reached such success.

Tara Milligan  24:25  
Tony Reed's another one I cannot leave out Tony. He - you know, he's - he's done some writing too. He has a book he's published, he's still involved in the media. He was - he was a really talented kid at CSC. I keep calling them kids. When you were asking about it folding? You know, I didn't really express when I answered my question just how heartbreaking that was, like, it really was sad. When it folded, because I don't know, there was such a legacy there. And where I work now, we talk a lot about legacy and purpose. Because I work for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital now, um, I work for ALSAC. But we support St. Jude. So it's a lot about mission and purpose and legacy. And it's just looking back, it's - it sort of blows me away that some of the most important legacy work I did as, like a 25 year old, you know, trying to guide and teach kids who were not that much older - not but not that much younger than me. It's very, it's very humbling. But it also, like I said, it just blows me away. But it is all for all those reasons, like it was an important program, you know, and it - it introduced kids to a different way of thinking, and a different way of writing different skills. And it did prepare them, you know, for future careers, in all the ways that has manifested. undefined

Aranda Hanks Gehringer  26:59  
You kind of read my mind. I was going to ask you a little bit about that word: legacy. It was in my notes about what you think the legacy is of the Teen Appeal in the city of Memphis, but I think you just summed it up so well, right there that it really is. I mean, it was such a building block and opening a door for some students who just wouldn't have had this opportunity. I can speak from experience, we didn't have a student paper or school paper or anything like that in my high school. So something like this would have been just a stepping stone into what I already knew I wanted to do in college. And that kind of leads to my next question, what do you think that Memphis students are missing out on now by not having the Teen Appeal or resource like that?

Tara Milligan  27:47  
Um, oh, my gosh, so much that they're missing out on so much. Just the connection to each other. You know, all the schools have their own personalities. And I learned a lot about that, you know, yeah, because I didn't grow up here. So I didn't really understand the whole, like Central High School, the high school thing and, you know, White Station. I remember, you know, the White Station kids, they were - they were a totally different group of kids and the Central High School kids were kind of quirky. So anyway, that's not really answering your question, that, that they're missing that sort of connection, you know, as an entity of Memphis City Schools, and just learning about each other and learning from each other. I also think like, this was such a great little slice of good, good news about what was happening in the schools, and the truth about what goes on behind, you know, those doors every day. versus what's in what's in the media all the time. And, and again, I'm -my background’s media, so I'm not like, you know, dissing the media, they’ve got to report the news. But it's hard if you're the Commercial Appeal, or the Daily Memphian, you don't know everything that's going on, you can't possibly know everything that's going on. And that's why these student reporter roles were so important because they were on the ground and you know, they could - they could report on what they were seeing every day. So I think that's a - that's a really big thing that's missing. Some of these schools - I think they still do have, like yearbook staff. So there - there is, you know, that opportunity. But yes, just like what you were saying, like just - just the exposure to a career possibility is - is, you know, sad that they don't have that because the Teen Appeal doesn't exist anymore. So yeah, just off the top of my head. Those are the things I think that they're missing the most.

Aranda Gehringer 30:00  
Yeah. And last question I have for you here. And then I want to just see if you think I've missed any key moments or anything like that. But what advice would you give a young person now that's interested in journalism is interested in writing? Is there like a key takeaway or something that you've learned in your career? Maybe, that you think would be helpful for them?

Tara Milligan 30:23
Um, I mean, I still think a journalism career, or a journalism degree rather, is such a great entryway into so many different things. Um, so I mean, I would - you know, even if you don’t know what it is you wanna do. You’re not maybe sure you wanna do journalism but you know, you’ve got some talent writing or you have an interesting perspective or way of storytelling. Then yeah, I think it’s worth pursuing just because it teaches you so many different skills. Um, how to manage your time, how to talk to people, how to conduct yourself around key VIPs or leaders. How to just tell a story in a cohesive way, or understandable way. How to communicate. Um, it’s just a great degree to have. I don’t know if I can speak to career advice in journalism anymore just because I feel like I’m so far removed from it at this point. I actually celebrated my 16th anniversary at ALSAC yesterday. So I’ve been here a long time -

Aranda Gehringer 31:35
Aw, congrats!

Tara Milligan 31:37
Thank you! Um, and I had gone on from the Teen Appeal - I worked at the Memphis Business Journal for seven years. Uh, four as a reporter and three as an editor. So I left just as the industry was really changing. Um, if I went back in the newsroom today I’d be really lost. I’d catch on, it would be essentially the same, but it’s also changed a lot. The industry itself has changed a lot. So I think there’s some things that would be almost unrecognizable to me. So I don’t know - I don’t know if I’m the right person to ask that, like, kinda career advice on journalism. But I still feel very strongly that a journalism degree is like a very worthwhile, very valuable degree to have in terms of skills people will appreciate and value, and that will help you throughout your career no matter what it is you’re doing.

Aranda Gehringer 32:46
Absolutely. Well, those are all of my questions that I had for you. I feel like we hit all of the big moments there pretty well. But is there anything that really stands out to you about the Teen Appeal or anyone involved that you want to make sure was mentioned?

Tara Milligan 33:02
Well Elinor Grusin obviously has to be mentioned. Um, because my - I may totally be making this up - my recollection is that this was all her baby. It was her idea from the get-go. Like Teen Appeal does not exist without Elinor Grusin. Um, and she deserves just all the credit for making it happen and for its longevity. That is all Dr. Grusin. Um, and she was, you know, a great guide as I was navigating these waters of being a very young person myself with a ton of responsibility with these kids. Um, and working with the Commercial Appeal to get the paper out every day - sorry - every month. So definitely Elinor. Otis Sanford was great just in terms of opening up - giving us access to the Commercial Appeal for everything. Like, I had - I’d go to the Commercial Appeal and scan in photos, you know. It’s so - the technology that we were dealing with back then made things hard. It would be so easy now. I had to drop off, um, disposable cameras to Wolf Camera, like, you know a couple times a month to get film developed. And then you just pray that something good comes back. You literally had no idea what is coming back to you.Um, anyway Otis gave us access to the newsroom, gave us access to people, you know. He made that part happen as far as the camps every year. Otis was great. Oh gosh, who else? It wasn’t just the - I should give credit too to the faculty. You know, of the journalism department at that time too, because they played a big role in the teaching as well, um, during camp. And uh, you know, it’s not like they were getting paid extra to do that kinda thing either, so. It was kind of a volun-told situation. Um, but they were all great sports about it. And just putting up with me. I also, um, I was an adjunct professor as well, so I taught a couple of classes. Um, maybe one semester out of the two I would teach a couple of classes. So they, you know, they were very kind to me and treated me like a colleague. Um, even though I was very young. So they were great. I’m trying to think if there’s anyone else.

Aranda Gehringer 35:52
It’s cool that you obviously mention Elinor and everything that she was involved with. Um, so - you may know this - her granddaughter is currently an undergrad student, so she got to be there when one of my classmates did her interview, and talked to both of them sitting there. That was really cool - just that family connection. Like, full circle. I was like, that’s special.

Tara Milligan 36:16
Yeah, a mutual friend of mine - Angie Craig - she sent me a note because she had seen this journalism alumni thing coming up, and she was like, “Hey, if I’m in town do you want to go with me?” And I was like “yeah, sure.” And she was like, “Is that Elinor’s granddaughter?” and I said yeah. She goes, “Oh my god, how is that even possible?” And I’m like, “Well I mean, you're a grandmother, so why wouldn’t it be possible?” It was just really funny. Um, yes, but I did know that. And I’ve stayed in touch with Elinor too, of course. Like, you know, we catch up every now and then and try to - we had, you know, lunch - Angie and I had lunch with her, um, over the holidays. So, I’m so glad she’s - was able to participate in this, and get her perspective. I can’t wait to hear that. That’s what I wanna hear.

Aranda Gehringer 37:10
I know, I’m like, that is just very cool to get to hear.

Tara Milligan 37:15
Yeah, and I would love to hear the other students talking about it because I don’t know - I mean, I honestly don’t know what their feelings are about how that might have shaped their lives, or - I don’t know. I’m really appreciative of what you guys are doing in capturing this.

Aranda Gehringer 37:36
Yeah, and well - a little bit - I think he’d be okay if I mention this. We talk about it in class a lot. The whole concept of this came to Robby, our professor, because he’s so interested in trying to find funding for something like this and bringing this back to life. Um, he’s not from Memphis, he’s from Mississippi, but it piqued his interest so much, especially when talking to Otis and learning the history as we’re going through the archives and everything. So his longer term plan for this is to maybe find some sort of reiteration of what the Teen Appeal was. So we’re clearly in the early stages, but everything we’re doing in this class is hopefully going to lay some groundwork for something in the future. So, kind of the warm fuzzies. Everyone we’ve been talking to has expressed that it makes them feel good that at least someone out there remembers and wants to be able to bring the opportunity back. But - go ahead.

Tara Milligan 38:35
Yeah  - I mean, I would absolutely love to see that happen. I think it would be a gift to the city. You know, if kids were able to participate in a journalism program again. I just think that would be wonderful.

Aranda Gehringer 38:50
Yeah, and as we piece all this together, I’ll keep you in the loop. Um, let you listen to some things, obviously. It’s all coming together pretty quickly, at least with interviews and pulling out those, um, soundbits of things that have been really impactful. So I will definitely shoot you an email and, if anything becomes available for you to listen to when you get a chance, I will let you know.

Tara Milligan 39:15
Okay. Thank you. I appreciate it. It was fun spending this time talking about this project. It means a whole lot to me. I get emotional - it’s so funny, I get emotional thinking about it. The other thing - sorry I’ll share one more personal thing. Um, I found out I was pregnant like right after I accepted the job. So -

Aranda Gehringer 39:38
Oh wow!

Tara Milligan 39:40
Yeah, so I was the coordinator in, you know, I mean - I was going to have a baby. And it’s so funny because a lot of those kids will be like, I keep calling them kids. A lot of those students will say things like, Oh I remember you bringing your son up in a stroller, you know. And he’s 25 now. So like,  he was around all of that, because he was a baby and I was still trying to work. So I’d have him up in the Teen Appeal newsroom. We had like a Saturday session, you know, open like once a month on Saturdays for like four hours, and I would literally have my baby up there with me, you know. Um, as these kids came in, they all sort of knew him, and got to know him as well. I don’t know, it’s a very kind of interesting moment in my life of having this new job with a big responsibility and launching this great program, and also becoming a new mom. It was great. An
d I’m sorry – there is one more person I need to mention. Amy Edmondson! I did not say Amy’s name. Oh my - our first sort of grad student assistant, and Amy was wonderful. She was my partner in crime. We were attached at the hip. And she was a grad student at the same time, and you know, that is tough. But Amy was great. And it was wonderful getting to work alongside her. And she’s one- you know she’s not a Teen Appeal alum, she kind of is. I mean she has gone on to do great things too. Oh man, that would have been terrible had I hung up and not mentioned Amy. Oh my goodness, Amy was great.

Aranda Gehringer 41:27
Good to know, thank you. And exactly what you were saying. It’s such a unique and special time in your life that it makes sense that it’s like, just that first year of a child’s life in particular. Already you're going to soak up every moment, on top of this cool life experience. Yeah, so I hope it was cool to kind of walk down memory lane, and hopefully give you some good nostalgia.

Tara Milligan 41:53
It was. Yeah, it was great. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity.

Aranda Gehringer 41:56
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your Monday, I appreciate you. And for being the recording queen - thank you.

Tara Milligan 42:06
Yeah, I will send that to you. I think I just end the meeting and it will generate the recording with a link and password, and I can just pass it on to you. 

Aranda Gehringer 42:19
Perfect, thank you so much. Like I said, I’ll send you some updates as we have them.

Tara Milligan 42:25
Great. Thank you!

Aranda Gehringer 42:26
Thank you - have a great rest of your day.

Tara Milligan 42:28
Okay, bye!


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