A few weeks back, Denver Post subscribers were flabbergasted when sports columnist Woody Paige left the paper after thirty years of covering local teams — most notably (and most frequently) the Denver Broncos, who kick off the NFL season and their defense of their championship tonight in a nationally televised home game against the Carolina Panthers, whom they defeated in Super Bowl 50.
Readers ought to be used to it by now.
As we reported in April 2015, reporter Mike Klis was the fourth Broncos-beat writer to leave the Post in three years, following Lindsay Jones (now with USA Today), Jeff Legwold (a staffer at ESPN) and Joan Niesen (who inked with Sports Illustrated).
Now, make it five in the past four years.
Troy Renck, who took over as the leader of the Post's Broncos coverage after Klis left, followed him out the door earlier this summer. And like Klis, who's now with 9News, he stayed local — and transitioned to television. He's now the main Broncos man for 7News, the same station to which Paige signed on (along with the Colorado Springs Gazette).
According to Renck, the 7News opportunity "came out of the blue. I had worked with Lionel [Bienvenu, the outlet's sports anchor] during some playoff coverage the previous season — and he texted me and asked, 'Would you be interested?' I said I'd be interested in talking, but it wasn't on my radar. I didn't think much would come of it, but it happened really quickly," over the course of two and a half or three weeks.
The offer appealed to Renck in part because "the opportunity to be on TV — well, there's a little adrenaline that comes with that and being their Broncos insider. Everything about it just felt like if I ever was going to take this kind of chance, this was the time."
When asked why so many Broncos writers have split from the Post in recent years, Renck doesn't mention the tough times at the paper, which has been for sale for two years and recently had to lay off numerous employees when too few staffers took a buyout offer. If he'd been eager to take a powder, "I would have taken the buyout, too," Renck points out. "That would have been the smart thing to do. But I wasn't looking to leave."
Likewise, he sees his situation as different from those involving Legwold, Jones and Niesen. "Jeff went to ESPN, Lindsay left for a higher-profile thing at USA Today, and Joan left for Sports Illustrated, which was a dream job. So Mike Klis and I are closer."
Even so, he says, the reasons he made the change are personal. "The Broncos are a hard beat," he points out, "and on TV, I don't have to deal with some of the minutiae stuff. Like if the Broncos sign a long snapper, I'd have to write a ten-inch story about it, because anything they do is news. But now I get to focus on the bigger picture, and that was more attractive. And it's been great to work with Woody again," as he does after games, usually Sunday nights and Monday mornings. "I was hoping our paths would cross again. I just had no idea it would be so soon."
Renck stresses, "I loved my time at the Post: fifteen years of covering pro sports between the Rockies and the Broncos. And I'm rooting for the paper, and for Nicki" — Nicki Jhabvala, who's now front and center on Post Broncos coverage.
Which probably means she'll start getting attractive offers to jump ship any day now.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.