SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Going, going, gone

By Billy O'Keefe


ANA BRETON / The Working Press
Mac McKerral paced nervously in the back of the map room at the National Music Center Thursday evening.

Christine Tatum cuts off Mac McKerral’s hair for charity. (Photo by David Stone/Working Press)

Christine Tatum cuts off Mac McKerral’s hair for charity. (Photo by David Stone/Working Press)

As he fanned himself with his auctioning token, 2003 Radio Hall of Fame inductee and auctioneer Jim Bohannon continued to shout in excitement as he called out bids while the audience exclaimed in wonder.
During the Legal Defense Fund auction Thursday night, McKerral feverishly fought for several items without breaking a sweat. It was Item 188 that made him wipe the sweat off his forehead, which was about to grow.
McKerral was auctioning the chance for someone in the audience to shave off his hair —or at least what he had left of it.
As numbers continued to increase, McKerral exchanged glances with Terry Harper, the man McKerral was auctioning his hair for. Harper, executive director of SPJ, was diagnosed with brain cancer four months ago and has been undergoing treatment, which caused the loss of his hair.
McKerral, former SPJ president and an associate professor at Western Kentucky University, decided to auction his graying hair after he received an e-mail about Harper’s condition.
“Several people joked that after he lost his hair, he would look like Clint (Brewer, SPJ president-elect),” McKerral said. “That’s why I did it. I thought it would be fun.”
McKerral, however, didn’t have time to comb his hair one last time.
“Sold!” Bohannon said.
Shaving rights had just been sold to Christine Tatum, current SPJ president, for $700.
Putting a towel around his shirt and promptly sitting on a stool onstage, Tatum began to buzz McKerral’s hair as an eager audience scooted closer and squirmed even more with every shave.
“I think he looks better,” Tatum said.
Harper didn’t necessarily agree.
“I thought it was very nice of him,” said Harper, who has known McKerral for five and half years. “Even though I think I look better than him with a shaved head.”




The EIJ News