Former BDT colleagues fondly remember Daily Telegraph sports editor Teddy Paynter

Apr. 27—BLUEFIELD — Former newsroom colleagues of Teddy Paynter, who became sports editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph in 1991 and served local readers into the turn of the century, have nothing but good things to say about him.

Judging from the accounts of his career that have blossomed online since his passing, this is apparently normative.

Paynter, a Man High School hall-of-fame athlete who spent most of his adult life in sports journalism, passed away recently of liver cancer, which was diagnosed in February.

He was 68 years old.

Paynter had been serving as sports director of Mountain Top Media in Pikeville, Ky. since 2019. He also was employed by Pikeville Medical Center.

Retired sports journalist Tom Bone, who continues to regularly contribute sports and news articles to the Daily Telegraph in-between various church and civic activities, was hired full-time in 1999 under Paynter's watch.

"Teddy Paynter was one of the most genuine people I ever met. He was my boss, but he was also a mentor and a good friend," said Bone.

"You knew where you stood with Teddy Paynter. He was not quick to judge people but he was very astute about people's character."

Paynter had been a sports reporter at the Logan Banner from 1973 through 1991 but quickly assimilated the local sports landscape on both sides of the West Virginia-Virginia state line. He acquainted himself with all the coaches, principals and athletic directors in the area.

"He got to know them all. Got to know how they ticked ... what motivated them and what they were likely to say after a win or a loss. He was very good with people," Bone said.

"His laughter was something you could expect any day while being in the newsroom. He always seemed to find humor in even the most dramatic or delicate situations. He gave a different perspective on the sports world in his columns that people could relate to. They laughed along with him with his jokes. He was that kind of a guy," Bone said.

In his role as a mentor, the most valuable thing he taught Bone — was to listen.

"Listen to the coaches. Listen to what the players had to say. He knew that any sportswriter's credibility as based on knowing the rules and taking notes and keeping up with stats. That's just part of the job. But to take it to the next level required working with, talking to and getting to know coaches as well as the rules of the game," Bone recalled.

"That helped you in terms of getting good quotes for a story. But it also helped you get a better perspective on what it was that just happened on the court or the playing field," he said.

Bob Redd, who teaches history as an adjunct faculty member at Bluefield University in addition to his duties as Director of Athletic Communications, worked with Paynter at the Daily Telegraph for about three years.

Redd had been a sports fan all his life, but was a hard news journalist when he applied to then-managing editor Tom Colley for a reporter's job at the BDT.

Colley forwarded Redd to Paynter, who took him in and ultimately groomed the news guy into a sports staffer who eventually became sports editor after Paynter moved on.

"I loved sports but i was just on the news side when it came to covering things. He provided a lot of insight on local and regional sports. He provided me contacts and things like that. Most importantly, he showed me how to work the desk," Redd said.

"He, myself and Tom Bone ... we had a great team and a great working relationship. We were not only colleagues but we were friends. It was great working with him. He was a great guy and his knowledge of the sports world in this region was unmatched," said Redd, who credited Paynter most with teaching him to respect both teams in a sports narrative, rather than playing the shameless hometown booster.

"He knew all the coaches and the players and the ins and outs. I just can't say enough about Teddy. He was a good overall guy," said Redd, who remained in regular communication with Paynter up until a week before he passed.

Mercer County Commissioner Bill Archer, who was a newsroom colleague of Paynter during the latter's tenure at the Daily Telegraph, valued the sports editor as a colleague and as a friend.{span class="s1"} {/span} While Archer was a hard news reporter for the duration of his time at the Daily Telegraph, Paynter was known from time to time to lure Archer across from 'the dark side' to provide supplemental sports coverage for the Daily Telegraph.

"We traveled together down to Blacksburg to cover a WVU basketball game once. It was really the first time I'd been to Cassell Coliseum to see a basketball game. We had a great time and we wrote good stories," said Archer.

The Commissioner was a civic-minded citizen from way back, using his off the clock hours for assorted volunteer work. One of his favorite weekend projects included taking local kids to see spectacularly talented adult league basketball league teams in McDowell County.

Paynter was able to inform Archer that 'FAMU' (the mysterious name chosen by one of the more impressive McDowell teams) was an acronym for Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University — which is considerably more well-known in the college sports world these days.

Archer, in return, could help Paynter navigate McDowell County.

"Teddy was from up north of us. He wasn't familiar with how it is down here. The first time I gave him directions for how to get to Iager, he said,'Really?"Archer said, laughing.

Archer noted that Paynter's personality had a great deal to do with the positive newsroom vibe, particularly during the 'night shift' where sports and news activity overlapped.

"Those were fun times. Back in those days whenever the sports department was working late or just pushing up against deadlines to try to get stuff out, it was always fun to do that stuff, even though there wasn't much call for news reporters to do sports. But if Teddy asked, I was honored to go," Archer said.

Whether they worked under him or worked beside him, Daily Telegraph alumni of the Teddy Paynter era agree that he was a good mentor, a good colleague, a good sports editor — and a good person. He was an excellent representative of his profession during what we recognize, in hindsight, was a golden age of local sports journalism.

"Teddy's love for sports and his knowledge of how people work, of how people function, provided the readers and his friends with unimpeachable truth about this world that we called sports. He cut through the minutae, statistics and plattitude that are part of the sports world — and found truth. That's a pretty good testament for a sports editor," Bone reflected.

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