Baltimore’s newspaper of record bid farewell this week to two of its remaining arts writers, with longtime classical music critic Tim Smith departing this past Wednesday and music critic and nightlife reporter Wesley Case leaving today.
Case announced his move today via Twitter. A New Jersey native who spent his last 10 years with The Sun, he’s headed to Philadelphia to work as an editor for the sprawling sports news startup The Athletic.
Real quick: Two days after the great @clefnotes leaves, I'm next. Today's my last day with The Sun. It's been an absolute privilege to tell your stories the past 10 years — I only wish I could’ve told more. Infinite thanks for all of the feedback, and simply for reading my stuff.
— Midnight Sun (@midnightsunblog) November 9, 2018
In an interview, Case said getting to work in Philly sports news was a dream job.
“I just felt like I couldn’t pass it up as a guy from South Jersey who grew up obsessed with these sports teams,” he said. “Once it seemed like an actual possibility, I just felt like I really had to fully pursue it, and it worked out.”
Originally hired as a “presentation architect” for the Baltimore Sun Media Group’s now-defunct B free newspaper, tasked with elements like page design and editing, Case moved over to The Sun’s editorial side as a writer in 2011. He spent the last seven years there as a music and nightlife critic and reporter, penning features on everything from cultural shifts in the city, such as Baltimore’s increasingly nebulous gayborhood, to the restaurant business, as in his August piece on the arduous task of bringing an establishment back from the ruins of a fire.
Among his favorite stories, he said, were his remembrances of the late Randallstown “Club Queen” DJ K-Swift and Baltimore rapper Lor Scoota, the aforementioned Gayborhood dig, a takedown of Justin Bieber’s lacking performance at RoFo Arena and, as a whole, his bar reviews.
“I’m really proud of my time at The Sun and the work I did,” he said. He added: “It was important for me to just try to elevate The Sun’s arts coverage. I tried to do the music coverage at a time when—you know, I don’t think music coverage really moves the needle, traffic-wise. And that becomes a definite factor at a place like this.”
“It wasn’t perfect,” he noted. Asked to elaborate, Case said, “When you’re on a beat and you care about it, it can kind of torment you in the way of, How can I have done it better?”
Still, he said the paper’s editors “trusted my tastes and my instincts and let me pursue stories I thought were important. I have no complaints there.”
Smith, who leaves after 18 years with the paper, served his final day there on Wednesday. Among his final stories: a profile of West Baltimore-born tuba player Richard Antoine White, now principal tubaist with the New Mexico Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus; a revelation that the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is, controversially for its contract-less musicians, discussing cutting its schedule amid ongoing financial issues; and a mostly laudable review of Everyman Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer-prize winning play “Sweat.”
An accomplished fine arts writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, BBC Music Magazine, Opera News and other outlets, Smith’s role as a classical music, visual arts and theater writer had morphed in recent years, with the paper often assigning him to cover food happenings around the region. Smith came to The Sun in 2000 after serving as the classical music critic for the Orlando Sun-Sentinel for nearly two decades. He also wrote a book, “The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Classical Music,” published in 2002.
Smith did not returned a voicemail requesting comment. While he did not announce his departure via Twitter or through the newspaper, he told friends in an email that he’d be retiring.
The departure of both Case and Smith cuts the paper’s arts-centric staff by a third, leaving two devoted arts writers in visual arts reporter Mary Carole McCauley and arts and entertainment reporter Chris Kaltenbach, as well as features reporter and blogger Brittany Britto and fashion, lifestyle and pop culture features writer John-John Williams IV.
Case said he’s not sure of The Sun’s plans moving forward. “I do not know their plans for hiring. I hope that they find people quickly.”
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