Episode 67: Ben Montgomery

Ben Montgomery is the author of “The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer’s Search For Meaning in the Great Depression.” The book was published by Little, Brown Spark in September, and tells the story of a man named Plennie Wingo, who in 1931, attempted to walk around the world, backward.

This is the third time Montgomery has been on the podcast. He was the guest on Episode 21, when he talked about his first book, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.” That book went on to become a New York Times Bestseller.

He was also one of five guests on Episode 45, which was focused on the work of the late Michael Brick, which was contained in the book, “Everyone Leaves Behind a Name.” The other guests on that show were Wright Thompson, Michael Kruse, Tony Rehagen, and Thomas Lake.

Montgomery created the website gangrey.com, which was the namesake for this podcast. For years, he was one of the top enterprise reporters at the Tampa Bay Times, where he wrote about everything from one of the last spectacle lynchings in Florida to why cops shoot at suspects.

He left the Tampa Bay Times in October 2017 to focus on writing “The Man Who Walked Backward.” Now, he finds himself teaching student journalists at the University of Montana as the T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Visiting Professor.

Montgomery’s latest book is his third. His second book was titled “The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II.”

He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Local Reporting in 2010 for his series of stories on the decades of abuse at a Florida reform school for boys. He won the Dart Award and Casey Medal for the same series.

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Episode 34: Mike Wilson

Mike Wilson, Editor of The Dallas Morning News, photographed February 16, 2015. (Evans Caglage/The Dallas Morning News)
Mike Wilson, Editor of The Dallas Morning News, photographed February 16, 2015. (Evans Caglage/The Dallas Morning News)

Mike Wilson is finishing up his first few months as the new editor of the Dallas Morning News. Wilson came to Dallas from ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight website, where he was managing editor.

Before that, he was the editor of the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay Times. While in St. Petersburg, Wilson oversaw a staff of incredibly talented writers and reporters, many of whom have been featured on this podcast, reporters like Ben Montgomery, Michael Kruse and Kelley Benham French. During the podcast, we talk about a series of stories that ran in the St. Petersburg Times called Encounters. One by Kruse was about a dad teaching his young daughter how to ride a bike.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the writers Wilson cultivated in Florida. He was the primary editor on Lane DeGregory’s story, “The Girl in the Window,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2009.

During our discussion, we also talk about a story Wilson said he recently read, titled “The Root of All Things,” by Nathan Thornburgh. The piece ran on the website roadsandkingdoms.com, an independent journal of food, politics, travel and culture. It’s a story well worth checking out.

Episode 21: Ben Montgomery


Ben Montgomery
is an enterprise reporter at the Tampa Bay Times and the author of “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail.”

Montgomery’s book focuses on Emma Gatewood, who at the age of 67, through-hiked the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. She was the first woman to ever do so, and later became the first person, male or female, to hike the trail two and then three times. Montgomery’s book doesn’t just chronicle Gatewood’s hikes, but seeks to understand why she took to walking at such an advanced age.

Since joining the podcast, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk” went on to become a New York Times bestseller, and Montgomery has written another book. “The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II” is being published by Chicago Review Press, and will be available on Oct. 1, 2016.

As a reporter, Montgomery was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and won the Dart Award and Casey Medal for a series of stories called “For Their Own Good.” Those stories examined abuse at Florida’s oldest reform school, at times called the Florida School for Boys and the Dozier School for Boys.

He is also the founder of Gangrey.com, a blog devoted to sharing and talking about the best narrative journalism being done in magazines and newspapers around the country. The podcast is a spin-off of that blog.

You can follow Montgomery on Twitter @gangrey.