In February, 2005, as season four of “American Idol” launched, the AJC was seeking interesting blog topics. An editor thought “Idol” as the No. 1 show in America would work. She asked me to handle it since I’d already been covering the show since its inception in 2002.
At first, I did so, reluctantly. I already had another blog covering radio. But once I started writing recaps of the show, I realized that this could be fun. It was more free-form writing than I was used to. Little by little, people started joining in the conversation. Even after Carrie Underwood won, I decided to keep the blog going in the off season. That first summer and fall, I felt like I was pretty much writing to myself.
But 2006 came and the blog blossomed, coinciding with what was the peak year of “Idol” popularity. Credit the likes of Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Katharine McPhee, Elliott Yamin and the winner, Taylor Hicks. I was finding my own “Idol” voice as part of what I liked to call the American Idol Industrial Complex.
What was just a posting board for “Idol” news gradually morphed into what I could say is a community of regulars. Some stuck around awhile, contributed, then disappeared into the ether. Others joined in and stayed for the long term. Many were seasonal, some became perennial. A few got upset in 2007 and created their own “Idol exile” group. I exiled a few myself. We tried our best to ignore the trolls and laugh at the pseudo-superior visitors who write, “Get a life!” whenever a blog entry was featured on the home page of ajc.com.
Deirdre became our den mom, my unofficial (eventually deemed “official”) moderator who would keep conversations flowing and inform me whenever something odd was happening. LinnyKat, JTesla, Rickster, Kellie & Carrie Fan and others became daily contributors to a conversation that usually stuck with “Idol” but would segue into other topics, be it movies, our personal lives, or plain silly jokes. Ultimately, we became a virtual family of sorts, a comforting place to just lounge and sip virtual coffee each day and have a laugh or two. I thank you all for making this blog what it is and would love to hear your favorite moments on the blog itself.
And I have to thank “Idol” for its contributions to my life and the country as a whole. Over the past ten seasons, I have attended every single “Idols Live” concert in Atlanta (except the second one in 2005, the only year they came twice). I’ve seen Kelly Clarkson solo in concert five times, Fantasia on stage five times, Kellie Pickler five times, Carrie Underwood three times. I have interviewed a vast number of the “Idol” alums, although some of the biggest ones continue to elude me. (Carrie and Kelly – call me!) I’ve been verbally harangued by David Archuleta, Diana DeGarmo and Clay Aiken fans. I was kicked out of the green room before a Jennifer Hudson concert over a spat with the publicist.
But as the tired cliche goes, change is the only constant.
After seven seasons, 2,000 blog entries and 60,000 blog comments over three different software blog platforms, this blog will no longer be updated as of Sept. 23, timed with my first two-week vacation in my entire life. “Idol”-related news will now migrate to my Radio and TV Talk blog starting October 10 when I get back. This will also include coverage of “The X Factor,” which debuted this week.
Additionally, we’ve created a new “American Idol” landing page, designed exclusively for fans of “Idol” and related topics. There you’ll find a host of photos, archives of posts from the “Idol” blog and related links along with my continuing coverage of all things “Idol.” The page also recognizes the impact you have had, so you I hope you check it out, bookmark it and share with others in the “Idol” community.
I thank my bosses here at the AJC for allowing me this platform to express myself, to earn my PhD in “Idol,” to become more than just a journalist, but an arbiter of something that has given many comfort and joy.
Of all my work over 20 years in journalism, I’ve taken greatest pride in this blog. It became an extension of me. And you, the readers, made it work, made it thrive, gave it life. I plan to bring the “Idol” blog spirit and soul over to the AJC Radio and TV blog the best I can and hope you can all join me there as well.