Only a straight, unsuspected punch to the gut could be any worse than walking into our house and looking at the local television news for the first time in weeks, and then realize they’re discussing the death of a friend. That’s exactly how I learned of my long-time friend Brent Boynton’s passing.
They say he battled COVID-19 for the last couple weeks of his life. My heart breaks for his wife, Patricia.
The first time Brent and I met, it was 1998, and he was working for television station KTVN in Reno while I was working for the American Red Cross. He and his co-anchor Jennifer Burton were kind enough to spend an entire afternoon with the Sierra Nevada Chapter, teaching us how to communicate with the media.
We had a great time and Brent and I clicked right away. Later on, I went to work for Lotus Radio and he moved to KOLO, also a Reno TV station.
Our first opportunity to really work together came in 2005. He was U.S. Congressman Jim Gibbon’s Congressional Communication Director and I was reporting for the Daily Sparks Tribune.
Sadly, we didn’t have an opportunity to work at the same station, either TV or radio, but we did stay in touch. Eventually, he branched out teaching journalism class at University of Nevada, Reno, where he also earned his master’s degree in Mass Communications.
While he had a commanding presence, he also had a minute for everyone and a way of making people feel comfortable. Over 15 years years ago, I was at one of the lowest points in my life, having been fired from my job at the Tribune and the subject of some serious online bashing.
The morning after it happened, he called me at home. He had heard all about it and his first question was, “How are you was doing?”
He reassured me that it wasn’t the end of life and that the best thing I could do for myself was to turn off the computer and find a good book and read. He could have dismissed me, gone about life, but he made a conscious effort to show me that I mattered.
Unfortunately, I was able to return the favor when the TV station he was working for yanked him from the air and fired him. He was embarrassed and felt ashamed, but I reminded him that it wasn’t the worse thing that could happen.
Then in 2013, I got the boot again from my broadcast job and once again he called simply to see how I was doing. It’s those moment that mean so damn much to me.
Born in Pampas, Texas, in 1956, Brent got into broadcasting and journalism at the age of 15. After high school, he got his bachelor’s degree from University of Texas of the Permian Basin, having studied both Education and Telecommunications Business Management. He was also a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame and an Emmy-award winning journalist.
The local media learned of his death after the news was posted on social media from his former KOSA-TV co-anchor and current Arizona state Sen. Victoria Steele. The two had a son together.
He jus’ turned 64, too.