After college, Fike asked his parents if he could “take a year off and just bum around.” His parents agreed, but after only two weeks he learned he was going to need money to just “bum around,” so he answered an ad in the The Star Democrat for sales staff.
His career began March 13, 1992, at The Bay Times on Kent Island, where he sold advertisements for a year, before he moved across the bridge to Anne Arundel County to help open up a new market for the paper.
“I grew that market fairly well over the next year,” Fike said.
When an opportunity arose at The Star Democrat for an advertising director, Fike decided to apply, and got the job. With only two years of sales experience, and at age 24, he found himself managing a sales staff.
“A lot of that staff was older than myself and had been here for years,” Fike said. “It was a great experience and I learned a lot.”
He said he was thankful the staff and bosses were patient with him as he was learning the ropes.
“To get that kind of management experience at the age of 24 was cool,” Fike said. “It was such a great experience.”
Fike found his niche in sales and truly loved that time in his career. He said there are days when he thinks to himself he would like to do that again.
“I thoroughly enjoy what I do right now,” he said. “I like this role, but if you really get to the core of me it would be the sales. I loved the interaction with the people and assisting a business in growing their business. Going through that process with them was enjoyable.”
Fike said it seemed that every two years or so he was being promoted into a new position with new responsibilities but admits that even after four or five years into his career he never would have thought he would be where he is today.
“Somewhere along the way it just clicked,” said Fike. “I don’t know exactly what it was that clicked in my brain other than that this is a great area, I really do love it.”
Fike said it was around that time he met Gwen, who later became his wife. She owned a small retail shop next to the Tidewater Inn and one of his co-workers just knew they would be perfect for one another.
“I knew that there was no better place in the world to raise kids than the Eastern Shore of Maryland,” he said. “I enjoyed it as a kid and my kids are enjoying now.”
Fike said it is not just the area that makes him glad he stayed here but also his love for the newspaper industr y.
He said he gets asked all the time if the newspaper business is a tough industry, and where he sees the future of it going.
“My answer always is — yeah, it’s difficult but we are no different than any other industry right now, you can look at a variety of other industries and they are all going through some sort of transition in relation to customer habits and/or technology that is changing,” Fike said.
Not only does Fike love the challenges and innovations of this business but he said the things he loves the most about his career with The Star Democrat are the “fun things.”
“What I tend to remember the most over the last 25 years is the people — our staff — people that either worked with me or for me or in other departments,” Fike said. “It’s amazing the kind of memories that pop back up.”
Fike said those working in the newspaper industry tend to spend more time during the day with their coworkers than with their families, so it is important to him to enjoy what he is doing and that others around him do as well.
“Life is too short, enjoy what you do,” he said. “We work hard and play hard here in this environment.”
When he isn’t in the office he enjoys spending time with his wife Gwen and their two children, Harrison, 12, and Morgan, 11. He said their lives seem to be wrapped around the children’s activities but when they have free time they love to travel and play golf. He is a selfproclaimed foodie and sometimes travel plans center around that.
“It has been a fun ride that I have truly enjoyed,” Fike said. “I am looking forward to the future and the ride continuing to be fun and enjoyable with the staff we have today and who is going to join us moving forward.”