Meet your IPC: John Hecht


Name: John Hecht

Press Club board position:  At-large rep, Idaho Press Club state board

Current occupation: Recently retired.

Last job: For the previous 15 years, I was a “natural resources technical writer/editor” at the Pacific Northwest Regional Office of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (just across the street from the Statesman), with collateral duties managing the Planning Library.  I primarily translated and edited government reports into English.

Career path: To avoid being drafted into the Marines, I joined the U.S. Navy in 1968 and travelled by ships literally around the world, visiting 20 countries on four continents; I was a Radioman with additional duties in the Cryptography Room, and was separated in 1972.

Assisted by the G.I. Bill, I attended the University of Idaho and was deeply involved with student media and student politics.  Forced into graduating in 1980, I went to Alaska.  I was first employed in Juneau by community-owned KTOO-TV, which had the contract to cover the legislature, as a producer/reporter.  I opened my own business (Southeast Communications Administrative Media Services) and provided support to independent film and video companies.

I was a volunteer lobbyist, then the office manager for the Vietnam Veterans of Alaska Counseling Center.  I took a leave-of-absence to be Interim News Director at community-owned KBRW-AM, a 10,000 watt community-owned clear channel in Barrow, Alaska.

When state oil revenues dropped, I had another stint at the University of Idaho, where at the age of 39, I was selected as editor of the Idaho Argonaut, the student newspaper.  Back to Alaska to be radio station news director (Valdez), then editor of the weekly Valdez Vanguard, departed when new ownership came in, to work for my brother-in-law in Kodiak at the largest rock bar and liquor store on the island.

Idaho beckoned once again, and after various short-term and season jobs (editor of the Rupert News-Journal; Public Information Assistant at the Boise Interagency Fire Center), I was hired by Reclamation.  To my surprise (and that of my family and friends), it was a very good fit and I stayed employed.

Education: University of Idaho, B.S. Interdisciplinary Studies in Communications and Political Science (1980); B.S. Political Science (1986).

What first got you interested in journalism? The professor in Newswriting 201 passed on our less-than-awful stories to the student paper, and the electrical jolt of a byline lured me in deeper.  Then I found out I could get paid for asking experts questions.

What do you think of how journalism in Idaho has changed? The decreased flow of the revenue streams for newspapers and other media had a consequent decrease in reporters and thus reduced local coverage.  The internet is a marvelous tool, but it allows too much access and attention to persons not trained in journalism and its ethical standards.

Formative experience? Intense immersion at the UI with the student media:  Newspaper, radio stations (two FMs), and photo bureau, and participation in the (essentially) student-run KUID-TV.

Greatest achievement? My participation in the Vietnam Veterans of Alaska, from its beginning, as a lobbyist for mental health funding, and then establishment of our counseling center, probably the first such state-funded office in the country.  We improved the lives of a lot of Vietnam vets and their families.

Something people may not know about you? Lots, I hope.

Hometown: Boise now, for 23 years.

Family: Never married, but I have four siblings (two here in Boise) and lots of nieces and nephews.

Hobbies: I collect Hawaiian shirts, vinyl records (with an emphasis on blues and rock ‘n’ roll), and classic comic strip and comic book collections.

Surprising skill: If I’m skillful at something, it’s a surprise.

Past Press Club service: IPC member for more than 20 years; treasurer for both the Southwest Chapter and then the State board.

Other involvements: UI School of Journalism and Mass Media advisory board;  Boise Blues Society; Vinyl Preservation Society (of Idaho).