In retrospect I don’t really know why, but when we launched Triad City Beat, I secretly wanted to be the music writer.

We met our new office, a second-floor walkup not yet full of hundreds of newspapers we would later painstakingly assemble, or even all of our secondhand office furniture pulled out of the Nussbaum Center’s basement. Jordan Green and I had quit our former altweekly jobs together, sitting side-by-side in our old boss’ corner office, without having yet agreed on our beats.

When Brian Clarey — our exuberant leader we’d grown to love at the old shop — said he wanted Jordan to handle music, I tried to keep the disappointment from flashing across my face. I’d never dreamed of being Cameron Crowe; if anything, I got into this industry to make the powerful tremble. But for some reason, in that moment, it felt like bombing a pop quiz.

So much has changed in the subsequent four years, more than I could ever adequately track. For starters, I’m deeply grateful that Brian assigned me to the food beat, and soon after to booze as well, and thank god I didn’t have to cover music. But much more importantly, we built something magnificent, something simultaneously tangible and intangible. We changed the conversation. We wrote a different ending.

We made a lot of “important” people say the F word, we uncovered huge stories, we rooted for the home team and offered loving but necessary critiques. We held power to account, we didn’t back down and we made our own way.

One of the main reasons Jordan and I followed Brian into the unknown was the promise of editorial freedom, and we’ve reveled in it. We’ve lost big advertisers because of it, and we were briefly blacklisted by the police department (sorry not sorry). We stuck to our convictions and published hundreds — thousands — of articles that wouldn’t have had a home anywhere else but here.

But Jordan and I also took the plunge without hesitating because we trusted Brian, because we’d learned to function as a unit over the three preceding years (the two of them much longer) and because we could tell each other exactly what we were thinking. Don’t ever do something like starting a business without existing trust, strong ties and open communication.

Cliché or not, I never could’ve anticipated what the following four years would hold. In some ways, especially financially, it’s been much more challenging than I expected. But in other regards, we succeeded so far beyond what 26-year-old me envisioned that I consider Triad City Beat to be a raging success.

Now it’s time for me to step into the unknown once again, to take a deep breath and move forward, to see what’s on the other side of a couple doors. Triad City Beat has given me the courage to knock on those doors until someone answers. Some have opened already.

I started interning with Brian and Jordan when I was 23, an unemployed recent college grad who’d never seriously considered a career in journalism. Now I’m 30, having turned this penchant for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable (and drinking a lot of local beer) into a profession along the way. I leave this fiercely independent newspaper in the hands of those who started it alongside me, and to so many of you who made this dream possible.

Thank you most of all to Brian and Jordan — my mentors and really in many respects, my heroes. Thank you for taking a chance on me, for bringing me along and for knowing what’s best for me even if I didn’t always see it. My sincere thanks to everyone who accompanied us on this journey so far, including our families, former writers, Kickstarter donors, advertisers, Jorge, contributors like Carolyn and countless others who gave their time, money or skills to our cause.

And maybe more than anything, thank you to our readers. When you emailed me to say that you tried a restaurant I recommended, shared a news article I wrote or picked up a copy of this paper, you made all of this possible. Like Tinkerbelle, TCB grew a little bit stronger each time you did.

But this newspaper isn’t going anywhere — only me. So please, if I can ask one more thing of you, it’s to keep this thing going. The Little Newspaper That Could persists, and I leave it in your capable hands. Become a sustainer, share it with a friend, send in a tip, tell local businesses to advertise and above all, keep reading.

What this team does is of the utmost importance, and while they can do it without me, they can’t do it alone.

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