Jimmy Hurley quotes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On the record…
Jim Hurley was one of his era’s more colorful characters.
He had plenty to say, and because Hurley was in the newspaper business — a onetime reporter, editor and publisher of the Salisbury Post — these things often made their way to print.
Here are some of them:
• In good times or bad, Hurley said there were three things a small private company could not afford to do: 1) price itself out of the market; 2) cut costs so severely that the quality of the product is destroyed; and 3) borrow excessively to cover expenses.
• On the content side of the newspaper, Hurley said he didn’t worry so much about what was in the paper, as what was not in it.
• Hurley, who fought off both throat cancer and a life-threatening brain aneurysm in a seven-year period, wrote once about learning not to give up: “I don’t know if I’m turning into a good actor or if I’m a walking fake, but it’s easier to wave thumbs up than to curl into a fetal position and quit.”
• His throat cancer surgery in 1989 meant he could no longer smoke, swim, blow his nose or smell. But during one of his follow-up visits, when a doctor told him he also should stop drinking Scotch whisky, he threw a fit.
“A nurse poked her head into the examination room to find out what all the commotion was about,” he wrote. “She left muttering, ‘For a man without a voice box, he sure can raise a ruckus.’ ”
• Hurley didn’t like when newspapers, even his, made political endorsements. He said endorsements told more about the editorial writer than the political candidate.
• In 1988, when the city of Salisbury’s sign ordinance thwarted the Post’s plans to erect a sign at the top of its newly renovated building, he said, “The city can take that sign and shove it, and we’ll save the money.”
• Hurley, a great saver, always advised people to pay themselves first. He said at least 10 percent of every paycheck should go into savings.
• Hurley acknowledged once that he didn’t like writing editorials. “I was more of a numbers man than a writer,” he said, even though he won numerous awards for editorials and news stories.
• Hurley introduced a regular feature to the newspaper called “The 95 Percenters.” It held the belief that 95 percent of people were generally left out of the newspaper and deserved a story. He gave them one every Monday.
“I tried to write up how people lived,” he said. “They were not the big shots.”
• Just months after his cancer surgery and radiation treatments in 1989, when he still could not talk, Hurley was touring Salisbury with a Raleigh News & Observer reporter, who was doing a profile piece on him. The reporter mentioned all the old elms and oaks lost in Hurricane Hugo and asked whether he thought that was a shame.
Steering the car with one hand and writing on a pad with the other, Hurley wrote, “Nah. Just plant more.”
• Hurley thought keeping the newspaper’s equipment up to date was important. “If we want the town to be progressive, he said in 1986, “the newspaper ought to look progressive.”
• Always thrifty, Hurley managed to save $1,500 while attending the University of North Carolina. Back home, Post editor Spencer Murphy was raising chinchillas, whose coats were being sold for lots of money. Hurley decided to buy two chinchillas from Murphy for his $1,500 and also paid the editor $60 a month for food and boarding the animals.
The chinchilla market went south, and Hurley ended up selling them for $211, losing roughly $1,300 in the end.
“I was always pretty conservative after that,” Hurley said. “Anytime somebody told me I could make all this money, I would look at how much I could lose before I would see how much I could make. I think it was a good lesson, losing the first $1,500 I had ever saved.”
• Hurley said he received this advice once from his dad when the son was whining about not learning enough about the business side of the newspaper: “Son, you find out who’s stealing down at City Hall and write about it, and you will be one hell of a lot better publisher than those kids sitting at their daddies’ knees.”
• Hurley’s favorite books: “The Richest Man in Babylon,” “The Power of Positive Thinking.” “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” “Thirty Days to a Better Vocabulary” and “Top Secrets of Selling.”
• Hurley once tired of seeing the Hurley or Holmes names attached to buildings or things to which the family had given money.
“We’ve probably overdone it already,” he said in 1986. “But you go through life, and you’d like somebody to know your family’s been here. That’s ego, I guess.
“You study history, and you see that we’re here for so long. We’re a grain of sand. Our lives are inconsequential in the scope of the universe. Daddy taught us to be good stewards.”
Compiled by Mark Wineka.