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A pair of reporter birthdays

My little brother, Kevin, celebrated a birthday last Tuesday, and in a Facebook post reminded us that so did David Kranz, now-retired newspaper editor and political columnist.

Terry Woster

My little brother, Kevin, celebrated a birthday last Tuesday, and in a Facebook post reminded us that so did David Kranz, now-retired newspaper editor and political columnist.

Kranz. The Kranzmeister. Kranz-a-matic. Kranzarama. Various co-workers used those nicknames at one time or another. I mostly called him David, a habit I picked up when we were both in J-school. He called me Woster, as in “Woster, what’s your story?’’
David was a couple of years behind me at State. That makes him 70. He’s a scurrier. Even back on campus, he scurried. He didn’t stroll, he didn’t quite shuffle, and he didn’t jog. He scurried, and it took him places pretty quickly, whether across the campus green or through the newsroom on an election night.
He worked in Austin, Minn., after State, and served as editor of The Daily Republic for seven or eight years. Most of his career was with the Argus Leader, where he showed the newsroom loyalty and dedication. Stories abound of David taking calls from subscribers whose newspapers hadn’t been delivered, growling “We’ll take care of it,’’ and rushing out with a fresh newspaper. Hey, I did that a couple of times in Pierre in my career. David would have done it 50 times a day if subscribers needed their newspapers.
We started talking politics when I edited the Pierre newspaper and he managed The Daily Republic. The conversations continued when he joined the Argus. That’s probably a big reason he talked the Argus into hiring me as Capitol reporter back in 1987.
David could be a difficult assignment editor. He knew exactly what he wanted, but sometimes he got to going so fast, his verbal directions over the telephone lacked, well, specificity. Our story-assignment conversations often included, “So the story idea is what again?’’ He’d bark out a laugh and repeat the assignment.
Nothing got David’s motor running like breaking news, especially an election or a legislative session. I recall an election night, back in the days of carbon copies and electric typewriters, when we were on deadline for the first-edition press run and a city reporter continued to bat away at a story needed for that run. David scurried to the reporter’s work station, stood over the typewriter, grabbed both sides of the sheet of copy paper and commanded, “Type a period wherever you are. This is going over.’’
Each year during legislative session, David would visit for a few days. He’d show up in the Capitol press room, drop his overcoat on the desk and disappear. I’d catch glimpses of him during the day, talking with a legislator in a corner of the House lobby or buttonholing a governor’s staffer down on second floor near the big west windows. Late in the afternoon, he’d show up, sit at my computer and bat out a story or two or three. I churned out copy quickly in my career, but David? Holy moly. Turbo-charged.
Now, while he was a pretty good copy editor, his own copy could be an editor’s nightmare. He thought faster than the keys would respond.
“Check this over, would you, Woster? See if I missed something.’’
He has no patience with technology. More than once when I returned to the press room, he’d be leaning over the desk, thinning hair hanging down his forehead, fiddling with the insides of my computer.
“Hey, you got jurisdiction over that machine?’’
He’d laugh. “Aaahhh, it won’t space right.’’
I’d try the keyboard a bit. “David, it won’t do anything right. What all did you touch?’’
For most of his newspaper career, David believed food came from vending machines. At 3 o’clock in the morning after the final election edition went to bed, we’d sometimes go to an all-night place and he’d have pancakes with powdered sugar and maple syrup.
My younger son, Andy, worshipped David. They met when Andy accompanied me to the newsroom as a 12-year-old. David scurried over, asked “Who’s this, now?’’ and they fell into a conversation on major league baseball and high school basketball. David never forgot to ask about Andy, and Andy never forgot David.
“Man, I love that Kranz guy,’’ he said once.
Yeah, we all do.

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