Interviews

Published on August 16th, 2018 | by Landon Buford

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Percy Allen Shares His Journey To The Seattle Times

Courtesy of Percy Allen

Percy Allen is a seasoned sports journalist who has been with the Seattle Times for a quarter-century covering everything that you can think of in Seattle sports culture.  Since 1993, Allen has been a voice that Seattle sports culture can trust. He covered the Seattle SuperSonics championship in 1996, that ended with the Chicago Bulls beating the Sonics in six games. Allen would provide coverage of the Sonics up until they departed in 2008. Other notable events that he had the pleasure of covering include three Superbowl from 2000, 2001, and 2002. However, Allen’s journey did not start in Seattle, Washington he is a native of Cleveland, Ohio.

During his teenage years, he attended Euclid High School and was a member of their football team. His position of choice was running back and as a student-athlete, he was able to earn a scholarship to Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. At the time Kent State was on the rise and his coach was able to sell Allen on the program he envisioned. Allen would not play football throughout his full time at Kent State University and had to figure out what his next move would be because returning was not an option. So, he turned to journalism.

Allen started taking the proper classes to begin honing his skills. He even started branching out to local news organizations to inquire about internships trying to set himself up for future opportunities. Upon graduating from college he took an internship with the Cincinnati Inquirer. After a summer internship with the Inquirer, Allen started sending out applications and received three job offers, and decided to come to Seattle and join the Times.

You are from the Cleveland area. What are your thoughts on LeBron opening his new I Promise School in Akron?

I love it and I think it is fantastic. I was doing my research on all the things that he is promising to help these kids and I must tell you he is now my favorite athlete.  He was not before, but he is now for so long I had a poster of Michael Jordan on my mantle wall even though I am from Cleveland. Jordan used to kill the Cavs, but he still had fans in Cleveland. I still am a fan of his, but as of late the debate between LeBron and Jordan has dominated the sports airwaves. For so long I have been on the record of saying that I respected LeBron, but Jordan was my favorite player. By him opening his school, this has made him my favorite player. The potential of the school is a game changer.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in journalism?

The short story is in college after I finished playing football I had to do something. I could not go back home to mom and I did not necessarily have a plan B. Granite like all kids that play sports I was pretty much all in, but I was not so far gone that I could not get my academics together. That is when I started concentrating on journalism.

How did you come to the decision that you wanted to attend Kent State University and were there other institutions on your radar?

Oh yeah, I grew up in Cleveland, attended Euclid High School and I was a decent running back. So, I had a lot of offers from Mid-American schools, the MAC, and a major offer from Indiana. It came down to Indiana, Miami of Ohio, Ohio U, and Kent State. Kent State at the time was a program on the rise. Coach Mason was charismatic, enthusiastic, a great recruiter, and he sold me on his vision

After you graduated college what path did you take to land a position at the Seattle Times?

After graduating from Kent State, I took an internship at the Cincinnati Inquirer for the summer. I ended up hanging out there until I ran out of money and I could not go home. So, I sent out about 50 different resumes and received three job offers from Toledo, Wichita, and Seattle. I went to NABJ that year and I was able to meet with all three companies and I had never been to Seattle. I decided to take a chance and I have been here ever since.

Do you think it is better to apply for internships during your junior and senior year to make the transition from college to a professional journalist smoother?

I would recommend that students get at least two internship opportunities before graduating college. Right around the freshmen and sophomore years that way you have something to offer the platform you are applying for after graduating. Also, if you are looking for an internship in the summer please apply in the fall and winter of the year prior because summer internship deadlines usually are in the first quarter of the upcoming year.

With some of the different technology that we now have available, what is some advice that you would like to share with individuals who have not received their big break?

I would say to be local, passionate, and if this is something you want to do then pursue your dream. I think the times have changed and there are some many ways to be a journalist nowadays. You don’t have to write for a specific company. You can form your own narrative until the opportunity presents itself. I think a lot of young people get lost in the sauce because they want to report on these big stories that include LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Tiger Woods. They can cover local issues in their own community. That is where I feel the art of this profession is being lost because not many people are reporting on the local issues in the community.

Who are some of the mentors you credit for pushing you towards where you are today?

There were so many when I was young that I looked up to when I was in Cleveland. I used to be a copywriter at the Cleveland Plain Dealer and one of my first editors was David Squires who is still working in media in some capacity. Once I made the transition into sports, guys like Darrell Orlando who writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and another person is Marc Spears who helps everyone, they were all my mentors.

What has been your toughest assignment to date and how did you approach it?

I would have to say the one that pushed me towards sports. It was my first year at the Seattle Times and they had me doing an investigative story that involved a death in the community. I had to go to the family of the victim’s house and I beat the police to the residence and I was the one that ended up breaking the news to the family. They looked at me like I was crazy it was a tough situation to be in. That is when I knew I was not cut out for hard news and I was geared towards sports/ It was a tough assignment the stuck with me for a very long time.

How do you want to use your platform to inspire others?

On a day to day basis, I don’t think about things like that. I guess when asked questions like this is when I contemplate certain things. I don’t think about inspiring others during my daily routine, but I do think about being honest, truthful, and composing a good story. I think about beating the competition to a story or trying to get better as a journalist with studying how I can write better lead-ins to my stories. I think about my visuals and starting a podcast, those are the things I try to concentrate on during my daily routine. In terms of inspiring others, it is not at the forefront of my thoughts, but hopefully, I do impact others to follow their dreams.

All season you had the opportunity to cover the first place Seattle Storm. In your opinion do you think they have a shot to bring home a third title?

I think the Storm are in a great position to win another title. They have a great combination of veteran leadership in Sue Bird and a great core lead by Breanna Stewart and Jewell Lloyd. Now, that they are in first place they need to maintain that position, as this will allow them to sit and watch until the Semi-Finals. In comparison to the old format where they had to play in the first two rounds to get to the Semi-Finals. Again, they are in a great spot and they have pieces that they will need especially if they get one of the two tops seeds in the playoffs. Both of those games will be in Seattle and it will be a great environment because they are tough to beat at home.


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About the Author

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, What's Trending's CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.


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