Longtime Vail Daily reporter Randy Wyrick leaving the valley
For years, he's been the face of the Vail Daily; he's returning to his native Indiana
This is a little different than a normal news story. It’s about Randy Wyrick, so of course it is.
Wyrick has been with the Vail Daily since 1988, with a few brief breaks. He’s now retired from the paper, and will soon head off to his native Indiana. His wife, K.T. Gazunis, has landed a position with a housing authority in Indianapolis. Wyrick’s following, of course.
In a recent conversation, he noted that most of the family — he’s one of five kids, and Mrs. Wyrick is still going strong at age 90 — favors the move.
“The rest say, ‘Where are we going to stay when we come out to ski?’” he said.
In a piece Wyrick penned for this story — he wanted to write the whole thing, of course — he recalled his arrival in Vail:
After (United Press International) sank I rode my motorcycle around the country and landed in Vail, Jan. 18, 1988 — a motorcycle in the Central Rockies in the dead of winter, which indicates how little sense I had in those days. I was low on gas and had 78 cents in my pocket. I invested 55 cents of it wisely and well on a happy hour beer at the Hong Kong Cafe. On the bar I opened the Denver Post, the Rocky Mountain News and the Vail Daily and started looking for a job. The Vail Daily needed a business and entertainment writer. I pulled my unemployed-lawyer-looking-for-a-job suit out of my motorcycle saddlebag, wiped the road grime off my boots and strode into the Vail Daily’s third-floor office in the Crossroads building. The editor, Reade Bailey, strode out to meet me dressed in a sweatshirt, slicked back hair, khakis with a hole in the right knee and no shoes.
We talked for about an hour and he said, “I’d like to hire you.”
I said, “I’d like to be hired, but let me think about it.”
He said, “It comes with a ski pass.”
I said, “I thought about it. I’ll start tomorrow.”
The next phone call to the Daily was Judson Ridgway looking for a roommate. So I had a job and a place to live right on the bus route in East Vail, which meant I could park my motorcycle for the winter.
But I only had 23 cents in my pocket and hadn’t eaten all day. I wandered over to a hotel where they put me to work as a ”pearl diver,” aka a dishwasher. They fed me and paid me in cash at the end of my shift. I did that for a few weeks, fulfilling my fundamental Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
A melted pot
Jim Pavelich, now a restaurateur in the valley, owned the Daily in those days.
“It was always fun, always interesting,” Pavelich recalled of working with Wyrick. “There was a never a dull moment.”
Pavelich recalled that Wyrick’s career highlight under his ownership was when “he melted a pot after one of our end-of-season parties.”
He declined to elaborate.
Wyrick recalled that over his years with the Daily:
I’ve met and interviewed the great and those who think they should be treated as great, presidents and other heads of state, ambassadors, celebrities from Bob Hope to Bob Woodward to Muhammad Ali, as well as 4-H kids and high school speech and debate stars.
For those of us who have worked with him, one of those highlights included nearly a year when he was dedicated to the Kobe Bryant case.
Bryant, in 2003, was accused of sexual assault against a 19-year-old hotel worker at the Lodge at Cordillera. For a year, Wyrick had an alphabet’s worth of national media types chasing his stranglehold on the story.
Wyrick chalks up his work over that year to “home field advantage.” But he usually broke new developments before anyone else. He was frequently on TV, and frequently out of touch. That led to the creation of the internally-infamous “Where’s Wyrick?” T-shirts.
It also led to the creation of the little-used phrase, “subpoena envy.”
Wyrick’s time at the Daily wasn’t uninterrupted.
I spent some time chasing rainbows around Los Angeles and Hollywood, writing comedy for The Blue Collar Comedy guys — Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy (Dan Whitney) and Bill Engvall — and their website, mybluecollar.com. They taught me that actor Edmund Kean was correct when he intoned on his deathbed, “Dying is easy, but comedy is hard.”
I’ve done extensive public speaking, standup comedy, pastored churches, taught junior high English and co-hosted a morning radio talk show.
Even with those breaks, Wyrick in many ways has been the face of the Vail Daily. He’s made lasting friendships that started as news contacts.
Buddy Sims moved to the Vail Valley in 1992. The Air Force veteran quickly joined the Minturn chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and soon came to know Wyrick.
‘A stalwart supporter’
“Randy’s been a stalwart supporter” of veterans and first responders, Sims said.
Wyrick has over the years covered the construction and dedication of Freedom Park in Edwards and has usually been the reporter on hand for Memorial Day and Veterans Day events.
“He’s always been there for us,” Sims said.
Wyrick’s connection with Sims and his wife, Bonnie, earned him another scoop early this year, when the Edwards couple was coronavirus-quarantined on a Princess Cruise Lines ship.
“My wife and I made a conscious decision: We’re weren’t going to talk to any other reporters from national outlets,” Sims recalled.
Wyrick has spent a good bit of quality time with many of Vail’s pioneers. Like many people, Sheika Gramshammer was surprised when she heard Wyrick is leaving the valley.
But, she said, “I know he’s going to be happy with his family right there.”
Leaving the valley will be bittersweet. But, Wyrick said, it’s the right time.
My stars aligned when I landed in Vail. They have generally stayed aligned, although I have occasionally kicked them out of kilter.
I hope your stars align as well.