By Bill Crane, contributor
I am a native Atlantan (Crawford Long Hospital baby), born and raised primarily in the Decatur area, and fortunate to have grown up in a newspaper family. For almost 50 years, two generations of the Crane family published and produced at peak eight weekly community newspapers, in DeKalb, south Fulton, Clayton, Fayette and Henry counties.
Our family owned small business enterprise was based in Decatur, and the Decatur News Publishing Company had a peak publication circulation of more than 300,000 homes across DeKalb County and the metro southside. Those included DeKalb county’s legal organ, The Decatur-DeKalb News and free distribution community weeklies including the DeKalb News/Sun (north and south editions), Southside Sun (covering East Point, College Park and Hapeville), Clayton Sun, Henry Sun, Fayette Sun and Lithonia Observer. Though our family sold the small chain in 1996 and most of those publications were merged into other papers or no longer exist, that experience and those years in a newsroom helped form the person I am today. My grandfather, William “Bud” Crane, was co-publisher, along with my grandmother, Mary L. Crane, and those two hard scrabble Yankee carpetbaggers arrived in Decatur in 1949, unemployed and expecting a job that had been “arranged” for Bud, but which never materialized running a gas station on the Decatur square.
They arrived in a jet stream trailer, along with my then 7-year old future father, Jerry Crane, and his toddler sister Sheila. Fortunately at the time, Georgia Power and DeKalb County weren’t quite so speedy in turning off power and water for unpaid bills, and my grandfather hooked the trailer up to the back of that closed gas station. It wasn’t too many years later that the pair had started a modest “shopper” newspaper to challenge the local political power structure of that day, and in particular a well-regarded and generally viewed as benevolent dictator, the one-person county commission and longtime chair of DeKalb County, Scott Candler. Those scrappy, Yankee Cranes helped DeKalb send Commissioner Candler on to a new job as the first Director of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, and DeKalb County politics have been evolving ever since.
I know that is a lot regarding time before I was even born, but history and politics have long shaped and informed my world view. Bud wrote a weekly column for just under a quarter century prior to his retirement and move to Florida in the early 1990’s, he called it “One Man’s Opinion.” When I was asked invited in 2008 to pick up that mantle and begin a weekly column on DeKalb county politics, history and other topics, by Carolyn and Doc Glynn, the current owner/publishers of DeKalb County’s legal organ, The Champion and its sister publication, DeKalb’s Champion Free Press, I leaped at the chance, and “One Man’s Opinion” was re-launched, in homage to Bud. Now, I will be sharing my thoughts twice a month with visitors to The Atlanta Loop. The platform of my column has broadened to more statewide, as One Man’s Opinion now appears in more than 30 newspapers, websites, shoppers and media outlets like The Atlanta Loop, as well as for a decade a similar companion column, Georgia View, appeared primarily on the inside back cover page of Georgia Trend magazine.
My personal politics lean to the right. I consider myself a fiscal conservative and otherwise Libertarian. I vote and support candidates in both major parties and have served in senior staff and campaign/communication roles for more than three decades for a too long list to mention here in both major state and national parties including two U.S. Senators and one Governor here in Georgia. I tend to have deep personal loyalties and affiliations, proven over time, which also supersede any party platform or ideology. I am also known for my work in crisis communications and reputation management, and since 2009, have owned and operated a full-service corporate communications firm, CSI Crane, LLC, with offices based in Decatur.
In our visits and my columns, I will try to inform and well as entertain you, mixing a healthy does of “ha ha’s” with the Ah-hahs. My commentary and reporting is fact-based and documentable, surrounded by informed opinion, versus opinion buttressed by facts only which support those opinions. As you choose to read along, I think you will gain a better understanding of my viewpoint. I am not a member nor aligned with any political party, and if I am actively consulting or directing any campaign, candidate or public policy discussion, you will be among the first to know that here first. Since the summer of 2000, I have served as the primary broadcast political analyst first for 11Alive Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, and since (starting in 2006), WSB-Radio AM/FM and starting in 2011, WSB-TV’s Action News. I’m beginning my 20th year in this market in this capacity, making me the senior political analyst on any of the network affiliates in Georgia, though Bill Nigut, now at GPB, took nearly a decade off while doing other work before stepping back into the industry a few years ago.
I am a lifelong resident of DeKalb County, Ga, though my travels and professional work have taken me to five of the seven continents, including extended stays and work in New York City and Washington, D.C. I am a southerner to my bones and soul, and that too shapes my opinion and thinking. The bonds of friendship and community are among my top priorities in life apart from my family and profession. I am the very proud father of two daughters, Barclay Carson, a Gwinnett County school teacher, and her younger half-sister Olivia who will enter the fifth grade later this fall. As we share thoughts and issues of the day, I hope you will reach out to me, share your thoughts in reply or even suggest topics for future columns and focus. I also have a passion for civic and non-profit work, which you will likely come across in other parts of The Atlanta Loop. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via my mobile at 404-964-5609. My firm, CSI Crane, LLC has offices in Decatur, not far off the square and near the Avondale MARTA station. If you see me out and about, please say hello. It will be my pleasure trying to help keep you in the Loop, with the Atlanta Loop.